I originally wrote this on a forum where some of us were debating which versions of Vandal Savage were better. The one from "Justice League" or the one from "Young Justice." Well, I sided with the YJ one, and my post also turned into a scathing critique of the three-part "Savage Time" from the end of JL's first season. I'll probably edit this, and expand it a bit from the original post, but here it is.
Let's start with casting. Phil Morris and Miguel Ferrer are excellent voice actors, both sound sinister and carry an air of intelligence and charm to sinister voices. But just listen to Phil Morris' Vandal Savage talk some time. He speaks very fast, like he's constantly in a hurry. Like he's very, very impatient.
Miguel Ferrer, by contrast, sounds very patient and methodical. He's been alive for fifty thousand years, this is a guy who knows how to wait. A true schemer. A real predator who stalks his prey. He's calculating dozens of ways to stick the knife in you.
The design for him is also better. He looks prehistoric. He still looks human, while at the same time looking not quite human, like a neanderthal. The one in JL just looked relatively normal. Being immortal was just a gimmick, but didn't seem to factor in to his mannerisms, the way he carried himself.
That and this Savage's plans actually seem to be working. The one in JL actually got defeated by the time the episode was over, both times. It doesn't help that there was no logic at all to the time travel... okay, so he sends himself a laptop with plans, builds new weapons and gear, takes over the Third Reich and turns back the invasion of Normandy. Then gets defeated when his big jets crash into the water. So the Nazis need someone to lead them and decide to thaw out Hitler.
Let's go into what was wrong with this plot line.
- The Nazis had A LOT of tech left over created from Savage's laptop. There had to be copies among copies of plans and blueprints passed out so all of this stuff could be built. He couldn't conduct a war, run the Axis, and build these things all by himself, as well as keep the laptop a secret... he had people working on these things. Plans and specs were copied and passed around. More of these things could be made without him, and without the laptop... by this point, the Allies could not win.
- "The old Fuhrer may have been a little crazy, but at least he had respect for his generals." Um, anybody who has read a book about Hitler knows this was not the case. Hell, he had most of his generals declared traitors. They got the crazy part right, but not the respect for his generals.
- So, when Savage is gone, the Nazis just happen to decide to thaw out Hitler so he could lead them to victory? At this point, a lot of the higher brass thought Hitler was leading them to defeat. So many of them conspired to kill him. It's far more likely Himmler would have come to power... but considering the circumstances and true history that was going on, they'd have left ol' Uncle Adolf in the fridge.
- History was still irreparably altered. Normandy was still an epic defeat for the Allies. The League didn't change that. Assuming you buy into the notion that history can be changed at all via time travel (I don't), the world the JL would have come to would have been far different than the one they called home. Even if by some miracle the Nazis were defeated, with the advanced tech they still have, you know who would have likely acquired it next? Russia. The Cold War would likely have gone very, very differently. None of the existing tech just vanished when Savage crashed into the ocean. If you're going to write a time travel story where history can be altered, you really need to stop and think about the implications of such things.
"Maid of Honor" is better, but they could have used any wannabe Bond villain for that.
And "Hereafter" would have been far more poignant if Superman and Savage had ever met each other on screen before this.
Granted, we won't find out until Saturday just how well YJ's Vandal Savage arc worked out, assuming it ends next week (which I won't assume). But he was smart, operating from the shadows, and slowly moving his pieces into place and now he has the entire Justice League under his control. We'll see where this goes next, but this Savage is absolutely terrifying.