Summary: Batman and Wonder Woman travel to Superman's Fortress of Solitude to celebrate the Man of Steel's birthday, only to find that he's been enraptured by the Black Mercy, a parasitic organism supplied to him unwittingly by Mongul. As Superman dreams of an idyllic life on Krypton—a side effect of the Black Mercy's possession—Batman and Wonder Woman must face the deposed tyrant, who is much more powerful than both heroes.
JL Mission Roll Call: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman
Featured Character: Superman
Cartoon Network on “For the Man Who Has Everything”: “Batman and Wonder Woman surprise Superman at the Fortress of Solitude in order to bring the Man of Steel his birthday present. But when they arrive, he has been immobilized by a special ‘gift’ that Mongul has delivered to him (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on “For the Man Who Has Everything”: “That actually came about when we were sitting down plotting the season; it came up in the conversation that in the first two seasons we never did a show that involved just the big three. And we were like, ‘Yeah, I guess we should rectify that situation.’ And it was Dwayne [McDuffie] who said that the best big three story of all time was ‘For the Man Who Has Everything.’ And we said, ‘Okay, let’s do that.’
“I wasn’t going to do the show if [writer Alan Moore] wasn’t comfortable with us doing it. And he said, ‘Oh yes, I would be honored if you would adapt that for your show.’ So that was great and, hopefully, he’ll still feel that way once the show’s done. I think he’ll like it. It’s a really intense episode; Mongul is definitely more scary than in the episode ‘War World’ (courtesy of [website name removed]).”
Bruce Timm on parallels with the Batman episode “Perchance to Dream”: “Weird thing is, it wasn’t until I re-read the comic—I think I hadn’t re-read it since it originally came out—while prepping for our adaptation, that I realized we must have sub-consciously swiped the basic idea for ‘Perchance to Dream.’ Mongul’s motivation is even the same as the Hatter’s: to keep the hero out of his way. At least, I hope it was a sub-conscious swipe.
“Anyhow, what struck me this time was another ‘For the Man Who Has Everything’ parallel: the villain’s motivation for disabling the hero with an immersive dream world is, once again, the same in both stories (and ‘Perchance to Dream’ too, for that matter): basically, just to keep the hero out of said villain’s way…which is actually pretty dumb, when you really think about it! In all three stories, there is a moment when the hero is completely incapacitated, lost in la-la land…c’mon, bad guys, take a moment to kill the sucker! [Of course], you could argue that Mongul might be worried that he’s just not physically powerful enough to kill Superman, I suppose. And Tetch, while seriously pissed off at Batman, might be just humane enough to stop short of actual murder.
“[As for which one I prefer, I] haven’t seen ‘Perchance to Dream’ in many years, but I remember thinking the animation was fairly weak. Also, we weren’t crazy about the storyboard for the last act, so Boyd Kirkland and I re-boarded the majority of it under a very tight deadline. I remember thinking Kevin [Conroy] was awesome (especially as the ‘evil’ Batman) and dear ol’ Roddy [MacDowell] was wonderful, of course.
"One thing no one’s mentioned is that we also apparently swiped Alan Moore’s original ending for the Batman Beyond episode ‘Eyewitness.’ The fact that we had already done that ending once was one of the reasons why we didn’t do it this time, but just hinted at it with sound effects. Also, we knew there’s a limit to how much horrific carnage the censors would allow us to show, anyway (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Timm on Kal-El’s Black Mercy-induced dream:
“We made a conscious effort to make
deviated from the original story] in Kal’s farewell scene with his son.
“There was some debate about how the Black Mercy actually worked, why Batman was able to escape from it more easily than Superman, etc. Our rationalization was that Superman had been under its spell for a far lengthier time—several days at least, maybe as much as a week—whereas Batman was only its victim for several minutes at most; longer exposure to the plant [creates] a deeper, harder-to-break spell (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
J.M. DeMatteis on Superman in “For the Man Who Has Everything”: “I don’t think he’d be happier on Krypton. It’s just that Superman never really knew Krypton and had a profound longing to experience that part of his history. Krypton is part of him but Earth, I think, is a bigger part (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”
Dwayne McDuffie on “For the Man Who Has Everything”: “The rest of the team doesn’t know about [Superman’s] birthday. I also think it would be remarkably inefficient for every Justice League member who gets in trouble to call the whole team down every time something happens. These guys are pros who handle situations by themselves all the time. The other sixty guys are generally just as busy as the handful who we happen to be watching at the moment.
“[In terms of the climax], you can play things a lot bigger in comics without them seeming cheesy. We toned down the bombast because having actors yelling how they feel at the top of their voices brings to mind certain excesses of William Shatner—‘MONNNNNGUUUUUUUUULLL!’
“[As for Mongul falling under the spell of the Black Mercy], if we see Wonder Woman defeat Mongul and he ‘dreams’ he pulls it off, you risk confusing the audience at a point in the story where a twist would, at best, just serve to undercut honest emotion. […In addition], after the ass-whupping [Wonder Woman] took, I think we needed to see her moment of triumph. [Also] if we had shown Mongul’s fantasy, Batman’s line at the end would be redundant.
“[Finally], I wanted [Robin] there, but was talked out of that opinion. Looking at how the show turned out, I’m glad; it makes Wonder Woman the hero (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Bruce Timm on Robin’s omission: “We didn’t hesitate for a moment to cut Robin from the adaptation, for a wide variety of reasons…though it did necessitate losing one of everybody’s favorite lines from the original: ‘Think clean thoughts, chum’ (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
Bruce Timm on “For the Man Who Has Everything’s” reaction: “Dave Gibbons sent me a nice email—he found it very enjoyable overall, thought it was a successful adaptation, [and] understood why we changed the things we did—[but] I’ve not heard from Mr. Moore yet, so I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Hopefully he liked it; we may never know. […] When we asked for his okay to do the adaptation, his only request was that we send him a copy of the finished product, so that shows some interest on his part (courtesy of Toon Zone).”
"I fashioned a prison that you could not leave without giving up your heart's desire. Escaping it must have been like tearing off your own arm, and now I'm going to kill you anyway. Happy birthday, Kryptonian. I give you oblivion."
An exchange between Mongul and Superman from "For the Man Who Has Everything"
Commentary coming soon!
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