Leveling Up wouldn’t be an official videogame column unless we offered up a true internet staple: a highly subjective and certifiably arguable top five list! Today’s topic? DC and NetherRealm Studios’ Injustice universe.
Both Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) and Injustice 2 (2017) took the gaming world by storm with a storyline that shook DC’s Multiverse to its very core. Before we go any farther, though, it’s time to advise any Superman fans out there to proceed with caution. That’s because we can’t even delve into what some of these juicy moments are without addressing the elephant (or Kryptonian?) in the room—Superman is the villain.
*Insert audible gasps, ooohs, and/or ahhhhs!
And not only is he the villain…he’s a tyrannical dictator whose lust for power and vengeance is second only to his brute strength and determination. In fact, he’s committed to building up a network of both heroes and villains to enforce his rule, a group that comes to be known as the One Earth Regime. So, faced with a threat unlike anything he’s ever seen before, Batman has no choice other than to form an underground Insurgency, which is where the actual storylines for the games pick up.
If that sounds like a lot to take in as part of a prologue, that’s because it is! But a dramatic set-up like that one can only mean the games themselves will be equally shocking and unforgettable as you witness what happens next. And now, without further ado, here are some of the Injustice moments that still give us goosebumps today!
Stryker’s Island Breakout (Injustice: Gods Among Us)
With Superman’s Regime forces growing by the day and Batman’s Insurgency efforts losing ground, the good ol’ DC Multiverse enters the picture with an opportunity for worlds to literally collide. That means our Insurgent Batman is able to pull in other Justice League members from a parallel universe to help the cause, including a parallel version of himself. While some heroes make it safely across the void, parallel Batman ends up getting captured by Superman and his Regime. This leads to a team of Insurgents and parallel fighters storming the prison known as Stryker’s Island in a climactic rescue mission to free the captured Batman. Oh, and did we mention that Damian Wayne has already defected to Team Superman? That heartbreaking battle between father and son rightfully earns a spot here among our top Injustice memories.
THAT Brainiac Reveal (Injustice 2)
Take a deep breath…now we’re jumping ahead five years to Injustice 2. Superman and his Regime have been toppled, while Batman and his Insurgents have been tasked with rebuilding the dystopian Earth that remains. Such a fractured landscape, though, has given rise to entirely new factions of dissent, namely Gorilla Grodd who’s seeking his own brand of world domination. This leads us to an explosive early sequence in the game where a team of Insurgent allies led by Black Canary, Green Arrow (from the parallel universe), and Harley Quinn head to Gorilla City hoping to take down the opposition. Harley ends up getting trapped there while Black Canary and Green Arrow get abducted by none other than Brainiac, revealing that Gorilla Grodd was just a pawn within Brainiac’s larger scheme to collect Earth as one of his shrunken planets. Talk about a plot twist!
Wonder Woman and What Army? (Injustice: Gods Among Us)
We’re jumping between games like our characters jump between universes, but bear with us because we’re now back to Injustice: Gods Among Us. And what a moment we’ve arrived at here! Thanks to the Multiverse doing its thing, we get to see not one but two Wonder Women attempt to lead an Amazonian army that could be the ultimate force for justice or evil…depending on which Wonder Woman they choose to follow. Fully ready to do the Regime’s bidding by taking hold of an entire continent, this army of warriors is ultimately persuaded to align with the parallel universe Wonder Woman after she defeats her evil doppelganger in a thrilling showdown.
The Insurgency and Regime Team-Up (Injustice 2)
Taking the silver medal for our Injustice memories is an unforgettable battle against Brainiac that sees the Insurgency and Regime forces working together for the sake of survival. It’s here where comic book fantasy comes alive as the two sides hatch a plan to use Aquaman’s trident as a lightning rod that wields magic straight from the Rock of Eternity. This tactic weakens the shields on Brainiac’s ship and allows Batman and Supergirl to sneak inside where the rest of the action picks up.
Battle of the Supermen (Injustice: Gods Among Us)
Drum roll please! There was no way this moment wasn’t going to be crowned victorious. How poetic is it that, in a game where Superman is the primary villain, only another Superman can be the one to stop him? Witnessing this emotional confrontation is the stuff all epic conclusions are made of, especially the pathos behind their discussion of what Lois Lane means to each of them. The parallel Superman eventually emerges victorious, but, in classic cliffhanger fashion, the game concludes with a not-so-subtle nod that Regime Superman may still have some tricks up his sleeve even from within his newly minted prison cell. Not only is this an action-packed sendoff for the first game, but it sets up Injustice 2, which is all we could have ever wanted.
Injustice: The Years Go On
Speaking of set-ups, it’s no surprise that the depth and breadth of the Injustice games have spawned their own comic book spinoffs as well. Born from the incomparably daring mind of Tom Taylor, there’s plenty more here for gamers and non-gamers alike to discover.
The inaugural series, Injustice: Gods Among Us, is a prequel that explores what happened in the five years leading up to the first game (spoiler alert: it’s quite a bit). Injustice: Ground Zero emerged next out of the gate, offering a unique journey back through the Gods Among Us game storyline but from the lens of Harley Quinn. And then Injustice 2 inspired its own accompanying series of books that helped bridge the time gap between the two respective game plots.
But that’s not all! We’re happy to say that we can now dive back into the world of Injustice once again, thanks to this week’s release of Injustice: Year Zero, a new digital-first series whose first three chapters are available now from participating digital retailers (look for Chapter 4 on August 18th).
Want to keep the Injustice convo going? Then be sure to visit DC FanDome on August 22nd where we’ll have another chance to take a trip down memory lane when it comes to all things Injustice. You won’t want to miss it!