Imagine all the wars and chaos that the world has been through and is still going through. Imagine all the famous Marvel and DC superheroes you know today. Imagine politics, pop culture, and post-traumatic stress. And imagine Diamond Dallas Page in a Birdman costume. Now put all of this together in a cauldron of modern surrealism, and you get Netflix’s new show “The Guardians of Justice.” One word? Gobsmacked!
While the base plot of the series seems to be how Knight Hawk uncovers the truth behind Marvelous Man’s death, a lot is going on in “The Guardians of Justice,” which makes it a satire on present times. Director Adi Shankar takes a dig at the tastes of the viewers by adding the perfect tinge of chaotic parody to all the things that we easily relate to today as pop culture. And it is spectacular.
Major Spoilers Ahead
“The Guardians of Justice” Season 1: Plot Summary
Earth’s greatest protector, Marvelous Man (Cal), shoots himself live on TV for the whole world to see. And the fate of the world is now in the hands of the remaining guardians: Golden Goddess, The Speed, Black Bow, Blue Scream, King Tsunami, Awesome Man, and Knight Hawk. The world is at the brink of war, with every country blaming another one for the death of the Marvelous Man. Knight Hawk begins his search for Cal’s killer and even interrogates his fellow Guardians.
Meanwhile, the terrorist group Anubis wreaks havoc and, aided by Russia, is planning to attack America, which will ultimately lead to World War IV (World War III was prevented successfully by Cal). Additionally, a new drug, Mellow Devil, is turning people into murderous maniacs, one that contains the DNA of Mind Master, someone who was known to have died a long time ago at the hands of Cal himself. Knight Hawk plans to bring all the addicts that have lost hope after Cal’s death to the Citadel of Justice (“The Guardians of Justice” facility) to help them get better.
Upon further investigation using a cortex (his own Cerebro cum Jarvis), Knight Hawk discovers that Cal and Mind Master were in love with each other and that Mind Master was present at the spot when Cal shot himself. However, he also finds out that before Mind Master, it was he who Cal gave his heart to and vice versa. But Hawk had all those memories of his erased.
After interrogating Mind Master, Knight Hawk discovers that Cal was depressed due to his relationship issues, which is why he decided to kill himself. And the Mind Master was there at the spot to stop him but couldn’t. Knight Hawk kills Mind Master, blames Marvelous Man’s death on him, and declares the terrorist organization Anubis responsible for ordering Mind Master to do so. With this, he prevents World War IV.
On the other hand, Speed has discovered Knight Hank’s plans to create his army, Hawk Global Offensive. In the ultimate showdown, Speed reaches the Citadel of Justice to face Knight Hawk and stop him, but she is killed. In the end, Knight Hawk has a whole army and the remaining Guardians at his disposal to fight Galacron, the titan whom Marvelous Man had warned about. “The Guardians of Justice” Season 1 ends with Knight Hawk sharpening his bloodied “claws.”
Superheroes And Their Homosexuality
One of the main themes of “The Guardians of Justice” is homosexuality. It is only today that we have homosexual superheroes, as we see in Marvel Studios’ Eternals. For those of you who do not know, the Comics Code Authority prohibited any mention of homosexuality in American comics between 1954 and 1989. At the most, homosexuality was only hinted at.
Talking about 1987, the year in which the show takes place, homosexuality suffered a lot, especially during the “gay plague” that occurred in the 1980s. Moreover, there was also a lot of unrest against homosexuality. Many officials wanted the death penalty for homosexuals. The US Department of Defense also issued a policy that made homosexuality incompatible with military service. The communication director for US President Ronald Reagan referred to AIDS (first identified in 1981) as Nature’s retaliation against gays. So, you get the scenario, right?
Director Adi Shankar thus rightfully showcases how different the outlook on homosexuality was during that period. The Marvelous Man and Knight Hawk are in love. But Knight Hawk has his memories of Cal erased because they cannot risk letting their love be revealed to the world, a world that is already showing hatred towards gays. Furthermore, they could not afford the shame that would come with it. After all, they had an image to protect, and the revelation would only affect the trust that the common people put in them as their savior. So, Cal marries Laura Louis, probably in an attempt to get rid of his homosexual nature. But we are shown that not even a God-like superhero can run away from his true nature. As fate would have it, the Mind Master falls for Cal and reveals his feelings towards him. We are also told how Laura isn’t happy with Cal and has an affair with King Tsunami. Thus, all these issues take a toll on Cal’s mind to the point where he decides to kill himself. The mind wins out over the body. Feelings triumph over strength.
In “The Guardians of Justice” Episode 6, there is a scene where Hawk asks the computer to open file 377, which has the clip of Marvelous Man shooting himself. Surprisingly, Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes both gay relationship and lesbian relationship illegal and subject to punishment. And, despite the fact that the article was ruled unconstitutional in 2018, prejudice against homosexuals still persists in India. It makes sense for a director who is partly Indian to incorporate this notion in a film that has homosexuality as one of its themes. Alternatively, it can also be that Shankar added it before 2018 (“The Guardians of Justice” took six and a half years to develop, which means its development began in 2016) when Article 377 was still in force, and Shankar decided to keep it anyway.
Why Did Knight Hawk kill the Mind Master? Is Speed Dead Too?
The love-hate relationship and their complexities are made very clear in “The Guardians of Justice.” And to have done this from the perspective of a superhero is very effective. One of those so-called relationships that we have in the show is Speed-Awesome-Man, and the other is Marvelous-Man-Knight-Hawk.
Knight Hawk kills the Mind Master, but why? The only viable reason is that he hated Mind Master, not only for loving Marvelous Man, but also because, had it not been for Mind Master, Cal would still be alive. Alternatively, it could also be that Mind Master’s inability to save Cal was what enraged Hawk, which, accompanied by his deprived love, made him kill Mind Master. But herein arises another question: Keeping in mind the fact that Hawk’s memories of Cal were erased and he had no remembrance whatsoever of their nurturing relationship, it seems that he still has feelings for Cal. How is this possible? Is it because, deep down, Hawk still has feelings for Cal? It seems that way, but we can never know for sure. And it’s this uncertainty that eats up Hawk himself too, which adds further to his hatred.
The love that Speed and Awesome Man share is pretty simple compared to the complexity of Cal (Marvelous Man) and Atticus (Knight Hawk). Yet, it doesn’t last long as Awesome Man kills Speed with his own hands at the end of “The Guardians of Justice” Episode 7. But it’s not so much the love that he has for Speed, but the constant fight between his conscience to follow the orders of Atticus, who brought him up, and his heart that is inclined towards Speed that matters here. On the one hand, he cannot help but wonder about Speed’s words when she mentions how Little Wing (Awesome Man’s alternate version) is being deprived of his childhood. On the other hand, he has powers that he needs to use for the “greater good.” Ultimately, his powers win over his feelings, thanks to Atticus’s persuasion with the use of Marvelous Man’s legacy, and he rips her off.
In both cases, Adi Shankar ends the scene with “brutality” and “fatality.” Something interesting happens here too. In the first case, Knight Hawk kills Mind Maser out of rage. He wanted to kill him and did so in a brutal manner. Hence the word “brutality.” But in the second case, Awesome Man didn’t want to kill Speed but had to do it. As a result, it depicts “fatality,” which means accidental death. This might mean that for Awesome Man, Speed’s death will always be addressed or suppressed by the excuse of an accident. It would serve as the only way for him to survive the fact that he killed the love of his life with his own hands.
‘The Guardians of Justice’ Season 1: Ending Explained – Is Knight Hawk, the Next Dictator?
“The Guardians of Justice” begins with war and ends with it. In episode 1, we see Marvelous Man defeating Mecha-Hitler (another dig at war). And the show ends with Knight Hawk preparing for it in episode 7. In Episode 1, we see Walker tell Knight Hawk that all the countries are blaming each other for the death of Marvelous Man. China is blaming Russia, whereas Iran and Iraq are blaming America. At this point, Hawk replies that the accusations don’t make sense, which, considering the 1980s, is true because Russia and China were allies, whereas Iran and Iraq were at war with each other (Iron-Iraq War, 1980–1984). To this, Walker answers that the steps that lead to war rarely make sense. Adi Shankar strategically makes use of these words throughout the show. How?
Knight Hawk formed his personal army, Hawk Global Offensive, because he wanted to be prepared for when Galacron, the Titan, attacks Earth just as Marvelous Man had warned about. But there’s absolutely no mention of Galacron in the entire show in any way, thus deeming Hawk’s preparation nonsensical.
Even the end of the show mentions the possibility of Marvelous Man’s warning never coming true. What if there isn’t any threat and Atticus is wrong? This would not only make all the deaths of so many people in the course of the events of the show futile, but also prove that Marvelous Man was wrong. But the latter possibility is something that Atticus isn’t ready to accept. And it’s possible that he’s using the lie to shape his own ideals of a safe world, one protected by him and his army. This is further stressed when he says that he can protect the world, but he has to do it “my way.” Is he then the world’s next dictator? We can only wait until “The Guardians of Justice” Season 2 arrives to find out.
“The Guardians of Justice” is a 2022 Action Superhero Television Series created by Adi Shankar.