Justice League Unlimited: CADMUS Crisis
Director: Joaquim Dos Santos
Writer(s): Dwayne McDuffie
Release Date: June 25, 2005 - July 16, 2005
Running Time: 80 mins
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Justice League Unlimited: CADMUS Crisis is a two hour television movie that serves as the season 2 finale of Justice League Unlimited.


The rogue New God Mantis is rampaging through Metropolis. He proves a handful for the combined powers of Superman and Captain Atom, but Superman manages to open a Boom tube and send him hurtling back to Apokolips. No sooner has the dust settled than Lois Lane arrives and reminds Superman that they have a date. As Superman flies away with her, Captain Atom is surprised to be hailed by General Eiling, in full dress uniform. Eiling informs him that his commission in the U.S. Air Force has been reinstated, and it is time for Atom to make a choice.

Over a picnic, Lois gently tells Superman that the Justice League's recent heavy-handed behavior is making some people nervous, and that people haven't forgotten the time when Superman was under Darkseid's control.

With Huntress's help, The Question steals a series of high-security files from a government terminal, hoping that it will finally provide proof of a link between Lex Luthor and Project Cadmus.

Inside Cadmus, Luthor is examined by Professor Hamilton and is shocked to be told that his Kryptonite-induced cancer has disappeared entirely, as if it was never there. Amanda Waller arrives and informs them of the theft.

In his apartment, Question cracks the files and begins to review them. He happens upon footage of the Justice Lord Superman assassinating President Luthor in the Justice Lords' alternate dimension. After days of poring over the data, he becomes unhinged, believing that the same thing is fated to happen in their world: Luthor will become President, Flash will be killed, and Superman will attack the government in retaliation – except that, according to Cadmus simulations, the resulting war between all the metahumans of the Justice League and humans will destroy the world.

Question confronts Superman, who assures him that he would never do what the Justice Lord Superman did, even if Luthor does become President. Question is unconvinced, and decides that the only way to prevent Armageddon is to kill Luthor before he takes office. He goes to Luthor's office to do so, but Luthor swats him away with a display of inhuman strength that surprises both of them –and confesses that his entire presidential campaign is nothing but a bluff, “a small part of a much grander scheme”. Question is taken to Cadmus and tortured by Dr. Moon for details on the files he stole.

After Question disappears, Huntress kidnaps Jimmy Olsen and uses his special watch to call Superman, alone. Telling Superman about the tape (which she assumes is a fake) they track Question's communicator to a garbage dump. Huntress fears the worst, but Superman points out that they dumped his comm, not his body. They conclude that Question has been taken by Cadmus. Superman initially refuses to help her, insisting that the League cannot act without legal grounds. But when Huntress points out that Cadmus is interrogating Question under the government's authority, Superman decides that they'll act "off the book".

The pair smashes into Cadmus and Superman easily defeats their soldiers. As Huntress searches, Superman looks through a wall and sees Professor Hamilton, realizing his role in the conspiracy. He confronts Hamilton, who doesn't deny what he's done, insisting that the world needs protection from Superman and his kind. Superman leaves in anger. But after Superman leaves, Hamilton sags, as though exhausted, with a concerned look on his face.

Together, he and Huntress break into the cell where Question is being tortured. As they are leaving, they are stopped by Captain Atom, who says that he is now taking orders from the government and his job is to stop them.

Inside Project Cadmus, Captain Atom attacks Superman. In addition to his super-strength, Atom can produce red sun energy blasts that weaken Superman. Huntress takes Question out of the building and calls the Watchtower for an emergency teleport. Captain Atom gives it everything he's got, but is no match for Superman's strength, and Superman is forced to give him a severe beating, coming dangerously close to cracking his containment suit, before Atom finally stays down. But when Cadmus doctors arrive to see to Atom, Superman tells them to back off – Captain Atom is one of the League. No one tries to interfere as Superman carries him out and back to the Watchtower.

Superman visits Question in the infirmary, who confesses that he was afraid Superman was coming close to killing Luthor. Superman insists that that would be impossible, but Question reminds him that Luthor and Cadmus have been remarkably effective in bringing out his worst side.

Superman tells Kara the truth about Hamilton, and together they storm up to the bridge, looking to assemble a team to go down and smash Cadmus before they make another move against the League. J'onn J'onzz and Green Arrow remind them exactly why they can't do that – because they are committed to upholding the law, and Cadmus may actually be a legitimate, albeit secret, branch of the government, which on its own commits several legal crimes. Furthermore, such action is precisely why ordinary humans fear the League. Superman is still not convinced.

Working in his laboratory at Lexcorp, Lex Luthor receives a call from Amanda Waller about the break-out. She warns him that if Question has gotten evidence to implicate Luthor, Cadmus will cut him loose. Seeming unconcerned, Luthor strides to a targeting computer in his lab that has just beeped ready, and presses "Enter."

The debate aboard the Watchtower is interrupted when the computer announces that the binary fusion cannon is preparing to fire. Horrified, J'onn tries to override the system, but he is locked out; as a last resort he tears the circuitry out of the control panel, but the system re-routes. Superman hurtles out of the station and to the mouth of the cannon, but is a split second too late: the laser fires down at the Earth's surface.

Down below, people are going about their daily lives, but pause when they see the sky light up: the beam lances down and hits an abandoned building marked "Condemned." The building is vaporized, and a massive shock wave ripples out, hitting the surrounding city with the force of an earthquake.

Aboard the Watchtower, the discharge has drained the station's power for a whole hour. Even without sensors or communications, J'onn can tell that the League has fired on Cadmus's headquarters.

Several things happen at once: J'onn receives an angry call from The President of the United States on a special hotline, but swears that the League was not responsible for the blast. At the same time, Flash leads a rescue team down to the surface to help those caught in the shockwave. Meanwhile, the President receives a call from Waller, who reveals that the facility that was destroyed was empty – they'd evacuated an hour earlier because of the break-in by Superman.

Waller advises The President in the strongest terms to order retaliation: in her eyes, the blast was clearly retribution for taking Question, and the League and the government are officially at war. The President is reluctant to order retaliation, and tells Waller to stand by.

The League is at its best on the ground, rescuing people trapped by the devastation. But things turn ugly as rumors start to fly that the League fired the cannon at the ground.

At Cadmus' new facility, Waller becomes tired of waiting, convinced that they need to act. She orders Galatea to take command of an army of Ultimen clones.

Professor Hamilton installs a transmitter on Galatea's forehead putting her in telepathic contact with the Ultimen. He explains that, unlike the previous versions, these Ultimen clones are just "blank slates," entirely dependent on Galatea's commands. Waller appears, telling Galatea it is time. As she prepares to leave on her mission, Galatea stops, turns back, and gives Hamilton a goodbye hug, calling him "Daddy". With that comment, Hamilton's face falls.

Aboard the Watchtower, the crew are still working flat-out to restore main power as quickly as possible. The first thing they get back is communications, which allows them to speak with the Flash, who reports from the surface that, mercifully, there are no fatalities.

Seeing a news report of the devastation, Superman calls a meeting of the founders, sans Flash and Batman. He says they've lost the trust of the people, and Wonder Woman proposes making a gesture of cooperation. The founders announce to the rest of the League that they are temporarily giving themselves up for arrest, until their innocence is proved. Before leaving, Superman tells Kara to "hold the fort."

When called, Flash agrees to come too, but Batman refuses absolutely, preferring instead to track down those responsible for framing them, telling them that "This is the single dumbest idea I've ever heard". Six of the seven founders surrender themselves to the authorities.

Aboard the Watchtower, the systems detect a volley of incoming Damocles-class missiles, which deploy driller heads instead of explosive payloads. The missiles strike, boring into the hull and disgorging the Ultimen. Galatea follows, issuing two simple orders: clear her a path to the station's reactor room, and then kill everyone in the Watchtower.

Inside Cadmus, Amanda Waller and General Eiling are watching the progress of the attack, when Batman appears, knocks out Eiling easily, and confronts Waller. He tells her that, moral considerations outside, the League wouldn't have fired the cannon. They've been keeping tabs on Cadmus for months – as witness Superman's break-in to rescue Question – and would have known that the facility was empty when it was hit. The cannon was fired remotely, and out of the three people smart enough to pull that off, the only one not already on the Watchtower was Lex Luthor. Batman suggests that Waller "start looking at him, hard," then leaves (it is uncertain whether he notices the attack going on).

A full-scale battle rages inside the Watchtower. Even the human support staff, though told to stay sheltered, join in the fighting. As a group of Ultimen reach the infirmary, Huntress and Question join the fray, as does Captain Atom, who rises, still injured, from his sick bed, having decided whose side he is on.

Steel notices a danger signal from the reactor room and flies down to join Atom. As the League takes the upper hand, Supergirl breaks off and runs down to check. She finds Atom knocked unconscious, and sees Galatea wiping the floor with Steel. Galatea informs Kara that she is about to sabotage the reactor and blow up the Watchtower - adding with a smirk, "but what I'm hoping, is that you'll be dumb enough to try and stop me." They fight, but Supergirl is outmatched – Galatea is stronger and more aggressive than she is. But as they fight, Supergirl goads her with the fact that she is not a real person, and Galatea becomes even more violent.

Back at Cadmus, Waller has started "looking" at Luthor, and it has taken her an embarrassingly short time to discover that Batman is right: Luthor has been poaching copies of advanced Cadmus technology and shipping it to his laboratory at LexCorp. Hamilton makes a quick examination of the technology and confirms that it could have been used to remotely fire the Watchtower's cannon, "but that's the least of it..." Waller calls Galatea and orders her to cease the attack. Galatea, now obsessed with killing Supergirl, ignores the order. As she burns Supergirl with her heat vision, Steel awakens in time to fire a blast that drives her back. Reaching the end of the re-start process, the power is restored. As Galatea charges, Supergirl rips out a huge power coupling and rams it into her stomach, feeding her a massive surge of electricity.

Up on the bridge, the League cheers as the last of the Ultimen are defeated, but the power goes off as soon as it came back on. Supergirl helps Steel to his feet, while Galatea is left on the floor, twitching and catatonic. In his laboratory, Luthor has finished his great project: an android body bearing his likeness, after the design of AMAZO, into which he will transfer his consciousness, thus making himself immortal and superpowerful: not only will his scheme succeed in making him a living god, but he has made the Justice League outlaws, so that killing Superman, as he has always dreamed, will now be an act of heroism. Before starting the transfer, he is confronted by Batman. They briefly fight, but Luthor quickly subdues Batman and throws him out of the window with his mysterious super-strength. Before he can hit, however, a hand grabs Batman by the shoulder, saving his life.

Just before Luthor throws the transfer switch, Waller appears with a nano disassembler beam gun and disintegrates the android, telling him he's under arrest for framing the League, and to back her up, all seven founders are standing before them now. Superman tells Luthor that he's outnumbered and out of options. Luthor angrily refuses to give in... and abruptly begins to writhe and scream in pain, and mechanical tendrils erupt from the flesh of his back and arms. A familiar three-dot triangle appears on his chest, and a skeletal face emerges from his stomach, accompanied by a familiar voice: Brainiac.

Inside LexCorp, the seven founding members of the Justice League and Amanda Waller have just been treated to the bizarre sight of Brainiac emerging from inside Lex Luthor's body. But no one is more surprised than Luthor himself. Brainiac explains that he inserted a microscopic copy of himself into Luthor's body when he forced Luthor to build him a new body inside LexCorp years earlier.

Since then, he has grown steadily, until Luthor was, for all intents and purposes, acting under his control – as a by-product of his occupancy, Brainiac cured Luthor's Kryptonite poisoning and gave him his mysterious super-strength. The last act Luthor was to accomplish was to transfer Brainiac's consciousness into the "more suitable" android body. Having had enough exposition, the League attacks, but the Luthor/Brainiac hybrid was able to convert the building into mechanical constructs, with which he overpowers the League. But J'onn breaks free of their restraints and smashes Brainiac's body. As his final move, Brainiac converts the entire top of the LexCorp tower into an enormous skull-like robot, and attacks again. But the combined power of the League manages to destroy it.

However, the fight was only a diversion. Under Brainiac's control, Luthor is walking along a sewer, to find a place where he can stop and repair himself. Brainiac makes clear that he regards Luthor as only a temporary vessel, which Brainiac will digitize and then destroy, per his programming. Luthor points out that Brainiac's programming is devoid of purpose: its ultimate end is simply for him to digitize, and then destroy the entire universe – after that, nothing. Luthor says he can show Brainiac a higher purpose.

In conference with Waller, the League deduces that since Brainiac's body is entirely nanotechnological now, he will go to Cadmus to harness the power of the Dark Heart. They call for backup, but the League teams on the ground are too far away, and the Watchtower cannot send help – the Javelins were all wrecked in the attack, and the teleporters are still down. Sure enough, as soon as they arrive, Brainiac has done just that: absorbing the nanotechnology, a new entity is created, a true fusion of Luthor and Brainiac, which has created a machine that will enable him to instantly absorb, and then destroy, all the knowledge stored on Earth, and then the universe – only they will now be able to re-make the universe to their liking.

To fight the League, Luthor/Brainiac conjures up android replicas of the Justice Lords, each of which confronts its opposite and goads him/her with her worst fears: Superman, the fear in others that his power inspires; Green Lantern, his heartbreak over Shayera; Shayera Hol, her status as an outcast on both Thanagar and Earth; Flash, his immaturity compared with the rest of the League. They are all resistant to the goading, and defeat their counterparts, and manage to destroy the machine, but Luthor/Brainiac is still too powerful for them. All of them are knocked unconscious except for Flash. Luthor/Brainiac prepares to kill Flash, but Flash vibrates free of his restraints, and is left standing alone against Luthor/Brainiac.

Luthor/Brainiac taunts, "are you going to fight me, boy?" Flash hesitates, then streaks away. Luthor/Brainiac begins reassembling his machine – and then Flash hurtles at him from the opposite direction, having run so fast that he's circled the globe in only a few seconds, and hitting Luthor/Brainiac with enough force to tear away a chunk of "their" android armor. Flash makes his fastest run ever, circling the world faster and faster each time, hitting the fused villain harder and harder each time. Then he stops, his body crackling with the speed energy he's tapped into, and applies his vibrating hands to Luthor's Brainiac armor, tearing it completely away, and leaving him naked and helpless at the bottom of a crater.

As the League rises from unconsciousness, Flash stands, unsteady, and then fades completely away, to the others' horror. Luthor manages a weak chuckle: "What do you know? I did kill him."

Now is the moment of truth for Superman: he seizes Luthor, and his eyes glow red... then fade away. At the end of the day, he is not a Justice Lord – no matter how much he wishes he could do what that one did.

Then J'onn shouts that Flash is still alive, he can sense him telepathically. Shayera reaches in the direction J'onn J'onzz is pointing, and her hand touches a portal to some other dimension, the "Speed Force", into which Flash has been pulled. She seizes his hand, all six of them form a chain, and it takes all their combined strength to pull Flash back. A short distance away, Waller tells the President to call off the air strike against Brainiac.

The next day, Superman addresses a crowd in Metropolis, including the members of the expanded League, the Watchtower support crew, the press, and various citizens. He says the League has been guilty of arrogance, and has alienated the people it was trying to protect. That being the case, the founders have decided to disband the League, and decommission the Watchtower: "This is the end." In the silence that follows, the founders begin to dismount the stage – and Green Arrow steps forward and delivers his own compelling speech to Superman, telling him that no matter what, especially after their victory against Luthor and Brainiac, they are still heroes and needed greatly, particularly Superman.

This speech is greeted with applause from the crowd. It is a turning point for Superman: after so many years, he feels he has finally regained the trust he lost when he attacked the earth under Darkseid's control. Bowing to the crowd's pressure, he agrees that the League will stay in service, but they will have to make changes to ensure they remain in touch with the people, and will start by opening an embassy.

As Superman goes on, Batman excuses himself and throws a verbal wink to Green Arrow, who has justified Batman's reasons for recruiting him.

That evening at the Daily Planet, Clark Kent drops in on Lois Lane as she is finishing her story on the League. He is surprised to hear that she's using the adjective "ambivalent," and she shoots back that her job is to be as tough on Superman as she is on any subject – but only because he himself has set such high standards. After all, she finishes, "he's only human... You know what I mean". Clark smiles.



Television Films
Live Action 1970s: Wonder Woman | The New Original Wonder Woman | The Return of Wonder Woman
1990s: The Flash | Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
2000s: Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt
Smallville: Absolute Justice | Finale
Arrow: The Undertaking | Three Ghosts | Unthinkable | Flash vs. Arrow/The Brave and the Bold | Uprising | Sins of the Father | Deathstroke Returns
The Flash: Fallout | Rogue Time | Enter Zoom | Escape from Earth-2 | Gorilla City
DCAU Batman: TAS: Two-Face | The Cat and The Claw | Feat of Clay | Heart of Steel | Shadow of The Bat | Robin's Reckoning | The Demon's Quest
Superman: TAS: The Last Son of Krypton | The Main Man | Blasts from the Past | Apokolips...Now! | Little Girl Lost | Legacy
Batman Beyond: Rebirth | The Call | Curse of the Kobra
Justice League: Secret Origins | The Savage Time | Starcrossed
Justice League Unlimited: The Once and Future Thing | CADMUS Crisis | Destroyer
Other Young Justice: Independence Day
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