Editor Julie Schwartz coined “Justice League” to resonate with kids, knowing they understood the concept of a “league.”
The change from “Justice Society” to “Justice League” was crucial for the team’s popularity and success.
Schwartz’s marketing-savvy name change led to the Justice League becoming one of the most iconic comic-book teams.

The Justice League is DC’s biggest team and has appeared in comics over and over again. Whenever there is a major threat to the DC Universe, it’s usually the Justice League who first rises to the challenge. Everyone knows the name Justice League, and the story behind how they got their name is surprisingly simple.

The Justice League got its name from Julius “Julie” Schwartz, a comic book editor for DC Comics, and he had many contributions to the comics he oversaw, but the biggest is by far the fact Schwartz named the Justice League for the simple reason that every kid knew what a “league” was. This fact is confirmed in the documentary Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics, available for free on YouTube.

Sometimes the reason behind a team’s name is simple. The Teen Titans are called such because they were all teenage heroes. Red Hood and the Outlaws earned their name because they’re people willing to work outside the law, often violently, to achieve justice. But there wasn’t really any in-universe explanation for the Justice League — but there’s an historical explanation that makes perfect sense, thanks to Schwartz’s intervention.


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Julie Schwartz Gave the Justice League Their Iconic Name

In the early days of the DC Universe, when characters like Batman and Superman were put on a team together, it was called the Justice Society of America. This society had iconic members such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Superman, and more, like Alan Scott, Black Canary, and even Captain Marvel, now more commonly known as Shazam. It was DC’s de-facto team that could handle the biggest villains and threats that superheroes faced at the time. After Schwartz took over as editor, one of the first things he did was get rid of the Justice Society name, as he explains below:

“I hate the word society. Sounds like a social club. I want to use a better word: league! There’s baseball leagues, football leagues, youngsters identify with leagues. Societies they know from nothing.”

Schwartz reasoned that kids didn’t really know what a “society” was. “Society,” in his view, was a boring adult word that was mostly used for golf or country clubs. But every kid back then knew about leagues. There were baseball leagues and football leagues and little leagues; every kid either knew what a league was or was in a league themselves. This pushed Schwartz to change the Justice Society of America to simply the Justice League. While this was a simple change, the Justice League absolutely exploded in popularity.

The Justice Society of America Wasn’t Catching on with Kids

But One Simple Name-Change Changed Everything

When it comes to marketing, branding is essential — if not the most important part of making a comic-book concept succeed. While the Justice League roster was much the same as the Justice Society of America’s, the Society simply wasn’t as popular with kids because they couldn’t really identify with it — at least, according to DC’s editor. When Schwartz changed the name to the Justice League, he created one of the most popular and enduring teams in comic-book history, and all it took was one little name change.

Source: Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics

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