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At the end of season 1 for Justice League Unlimited, a conversation occurs involving the cannon on the watch tower. One of the original 7 members justify the presence of the cannon by pointing out how it would have been useful against the Thanagarian invasion (which occurred during the last episode of season 2 of Justice League), as it could have been used to destroy the hyperspace bypass generator.

But I simply don't see how the cannon would have been useful. For one, Shayera Hol would have been well aware of the cannon if it existed on the watch tower during the Thanagarian invasion, which means the Thanagarians would have had just about every detail about it. This would have led to two possibilities: 1) the Thanagarians would have utilized it as one more weapon to keep the Earth under control or 2) recognized it as a significant threat if they were to lose control of the watch tower and disabled/destroyed it. In fact, they could have benefited from both possibilities: actually destroy it, but use the threat of it in civilian areas to deter the Justice League from a wide range of actions.

In reality, the cannon, which is essentially a space-based weapon under no government jurisdiction, winds up being a significant factor in how the populous negatively views the Justice League during the course of Justice League Unlimited. So, considering the questionable benefit and the very real drawbacks to the JL's public image, how did the members of the Justice League think the cannon would be beneficial overall? Do we know how each member of the original seven felt about it?

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    Look, the truth is, someone said "The best superheroes have a strong canon" and somebody else misinterpreted and by the time anyone realized what happened, well, it was already halfway in production. – starpilotsix Jan 10 '17 at 19:35
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    "Speak softly, and carry a big laser cannon on your floating space station." -Theodore Roosevelt – Ellesedil Jan 10 '17 at 19:37
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    If you were constantly facing the strongest evil beings in the universe, wouldn't you want a giant cannon? – Slacklord the Terrible Jan 10 '17 at 20:51
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    @Terriblefan: That depends. The cannon on the watch tower only points down at the surface. It's not really useful for things in space, like invading forces. Also, when it's fired, it takes the watch tower an hour in order to get their main power back on-line, so it's really only useful once. So... unless the strongest evil beings in the universe (or their creations) happen to be on the surface in a relatively unpopulated area, then the cannon could be useful. But... that's a pretty narrow set of circumstances. In the show, it's used "usefully" once (and it wasn't that useful). – Ellesedil Jan 10 '17 at 21:28
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    I hate to say it..... but I think the sole reason was plot. Cadmus needed to use it to justify their actions against the league. and it eventually sets up the final luther vs. flash showdown. – Matrim Cauthon Jan 11 '17 at 0:22
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From the Dictionary of Modern Proverbs:

Generals have a proverbial weakness for fighting the last war

In order to destroy Thanagarian hyper relay, Batman had to crash the Watch Tower into it.

In the aftermath I'm sure Batman and others were thinking "Wouldn't it have been great if we hadn't had to do that? What if we had a powerful energy canon instead, in case we need to destroy something on Earth?"

Like you said, it probably wouldn't have been effective against the Thanagarians, because Hawkgirl would have known about it. But it was effective (at least for a time) against the Dark Heart.

While Cadmus and other groups might hate and fear the Justice League, I think by-and-large the population of Earth is happy that they have fought off several alien invasions.

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