Before there was The CW’s Arrowverse, now retitled the CW-verse, there was Smallville. The long-running series set the tone for teenage angsty superhero shows using DC Comics characters long before Stephen Amell started brooding on screen.
Using the premise of a young Clark Kent growing up in Smallville, pre-Superman days, the series was highly influential in giving way to the DC content we might take for granted today. So the news that Smallville’s Justice League spin-off almost happened is a big deal.
Through its 10-season run, Smallville introduced many variants to popular DC Comics heroes and villains. Or at least, very proto-versions of them.
These are incarnations of the characters prior to their more popularized versions today played by Jason Momoa, Grant Gustin, Ray Fisher, Stephen Amell, and Katie Cassidy, respectively.
Smallville’s Justice League spin-off characters were already introduced.
We now know that there was a plan to form those Smallville characters into their own series. Before Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the Smallville Justice League spin-off was in the works, as revealed by writer Steven DeKnight.
In an article, DeKnight refers to the plans to create The CW version of the Justice League with Green Arrow as its leader. Justin Hartley (This Is Us) played the character in Smallville acting as that universe’s rich billionaire playboy-slash-superhero.
Apparently, there were plans for Arrow to take in various superpowered characters creating the Justice League. Plans for Smallville’s Justice League spin-off never materialized despite a backdoor pilot episode in Season 6 of Smallville.
Other iterations of DC Comics Teams on Television.
This isn’t the first time that TV versions of superhero teams appeared. The Justice Society of America, the DC Comics team that came before Justice League, had their own Smallville appearance in Season 9 titled Absolute Justice.
The episode came from Geoff Johns long before he became the Warner Bros. executive he is today. The JSA also appears in DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and will be next seen in Black Adam.
A version of the Justice League also appeared at the end of the Crisis event of The CW’s Arrowverse populated by the CW versions of the characters. Another version is referred to in Titans, however, through flashbacks alone.
The team’s first-ever live-action feature film appearance is in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, now streaming on HBO Max.