Years before The Batman’s Matt Reeves turned down a script that put Batman in a James Bond movie, a Justice League episode did exactly that.
Much has been made of The Batman director Matt Reeves referring to the original script he’d been offered for a Ben Affleck-starring Batman film as being “almost James Bond-ian.” He clarified it was a valid interpretation of the character — just not one he was necessarily interested in directing. With Affleck’s departure from the film and its subsequent retooling, Reeves was able to make the Batman film he’d always dreamt of. Even then, he’s still compared the Caped Crusader to 007, because the two rely on their skills and a similar arsenal of gadgets, while both having cool, detached mystiques.
Batman has already found himself as a globetrotting James Bond-type on occasion, notably in celebrated comic creator Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated, which had him embroiled in a cross-nation fight between spy group Spyral and terrorist organization Leviathan. Earlier in 2003, a Season 2 episode of the Justice League animated series called “Maid of Honor” put Batman and Wonder Woman front and center in an adventure that utilized Bond tropes in a big way.
While hobnobbing with dashing billionaire “Wayne… Bruce Wayne” at a gala in Paris, Wonder Woman — or simply Diana, as she was mostly referred to in the series — found herself rescuing socialite Princess Audrey of Kaznia from kidnappers. This lead to a fast friendship for the two, and Diana was dragged along by Audrey while the latter celebrated her final days as a single woman before her arranged marriage. Things took a turn when Diana learned Audrey’s intended was Vandal Savage (currently appearing as one of the overarching adversaries in HBO Max’s Young Justice: Phantoms). Audrey’s fiancé quickly explained he was Vandal Savage III, dedicated to making up for the wrongs of his grandfather, while the strong resemblance between the two was due to “insistent genes.”
The wedding date was bumped up after Audrey’s father King Gustav ‘suspiciously’ suffered a sudden stroke. Savage took full charge of the Kaznian investment in the International Space Station, before boasting to the world that the station was a ruse for the construction of a mass driver device, and threatening to cause untold devastation unless his authority and rule on a global scale is recognized. All of this was accomplished while Savage wore a Chinese tunic suit à la Bond villains Blofeld or Hugo Drax.
“Maid of Honor” was written by JL producer Dwayne McDuffie and directed by Dan Riba. Despite the inclusion of Bond elements, it was still very much a Justice League adventure. The mass driver was put out of commission by The Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, who rescued the hostages on board the space station and then blew the whole thing up. That aside, the earthbound elements were low key and high stakes, with Wonder Woman caught up in the emotions of her friendship with Audrey and Batman relying on his technology and guile to save the day. The episode freely indulged in the tropes and trappings of the Bond films before Daniel Craig assumed the role (and handpicked Skyfall‘s director).
Savage had appeared previously as a villain with global domination as an objective, so he was a perfect fit for the episode. He was even paired with a gimmicky henchman in Colonel Vox, a brute only able to speak through a device around his throat lest his mouth release shockwaves. This is the source for the obligatory one-liners and puns in the episode: “Don’t interrupt me when I’m speaking. I’d hate to have to raise my voice,” “Apparently you didn’t get the message… allow me to take it loud and clear,” or, when Wonder Woman defeats him and crushes the voice box, “Not another word.”
In a curious bit of unintentional synchronicity, the direct-to-video film Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman was released days after “Maid of Honor” premiered and involved the Penguin selling arms to Kaznia; while in no way connected to the events of the episode, the timing was such that it’s easy enough to draw lines between the two. Producer Bruce Timm has cited the episode as a favorite from his oeuvre, describing it as an “episode (he) loves unreservedly,” while it remains very much a love letter to classic James Bond films without letting the fun of an homage obstruct the storytelling.
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About The Author
George Morrow (19 Articles Published)
George Morrow currently lives in Southern Ontario, Canada, and studied creative writing in British Columbia. He’s been a contributing writer and columnist for several publications, wrote and illustrated his own 250 page graphic novel “TDSA: The Teenaged Defending Squad of America” (available now from fine digital retailers), and had a suggestion make it into print in the “Captain America: America’s Avenger” Marvel Handbook. He’s read far too many comic books and watched far too many movies and television shows.