The elite was originally created by Joe Kelly as an answer to the (then-) popular Authority/Ultimates trend of heroes, which represented a more violent and fascist way to take the superhero concept. The showdown with Superman represents the clash between the then-opposite postures.
The Elite appeared in Tripoli before Superman could get there and killed Bobo Haha and 2000 soldiers. Manchester Black then declared: "The old ways are dead. Trust me, in less than a year, you'll love me for this..."
This initial team consisted of:
Manchester Black then went about showing Superman that "the dream is over" which concluded with Superman faking the deaths of the rest of The Elite to show Black that one can save people without having to kill.
The original Elite would be reunited again when a vindictive Manchester Black forced their former teammates under mental control to fight Superman during the Ending Battle arc. When they resisted the mental push, Black induced a stroke on Menagerie and Hat and almost sent Coldcast into a meltdown, but he resisted. This was the end of the original Elite.
After Manchester's apparent suicide, his sister Vera Lynn Black formed a new team with the intention of atoning for her brother's actions. The new team included Coldcast, a new Hat, and the second Menagerie, the sister of the original. After helping the Justice League prevent a worldwide catastrophe as Gaia became enraged with humanity despoiling the Earth, Sister Superior—as Vera Lynn Black called herself—petitioned the JLA for the Elite's inclusion. Superman objected, but the team did become the Justice League Elite by including some Justice League members. After the second Menagerie betrayed the team in retaliation on behalf of her sister, the team disbanded.
A new team under the support of STAR Labs and lead by Manchester Black debuted in Teen Titans. Black was recruiting Wonder Girl and Power Girl as new members.
The new Elite include: Kid Flash, Guardian, Klarion, the Durlan Ru'at L'lwer, and other two unknown members, including a previously unseen Indigo tribesman.
Manchester Black's team appeared in the 2012 animated film Superman vs. The Elite. Vera Lynn Black also makes an appearance, though as a British special agent rather than as a member of the team.