Excitement about next year’s ‘Dawn Of Justice’ movie continues to mount, with on-set photos coming thick and fast and some Lexcorp viral media hitting the web this week. The DC replies to Marvel’s current dominance of the film market are now within touching distance, audiences waiting with baited breath so see if Cav-Fleck, followed up by Will Smith and the rest of the Suicide Squad are going to be able to live up to fan expectations.
But pause for a moment, and cast your minds back to January 2013, when Guillermo Del Toro announced he was planning on adapting and filming a ‘Justice League Dark’ film as part of the oncoming DC revolution. This was big news. It demonstrated a commitment by the studio to take a risk, to embrace the broader elements of their canon. And if anybody was going to be able to successfully portray the magical side of the DC comic universe then surely the director of ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the Hellboy movies was the man to do it.
And then things went, well, kinda quiet. Which is nothing unusual where Guillermo Del Toro is concerned. Let’s not forget he was originally the man chosen to direct the Hobbit trilogy, before subsequently handing it right back to Peter Jackson. His long gestating adaptation of ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ has been a work in progress for the best part of a decade, and Pacific Rim 2 has just found itself bumped into a holding position whilst other projects are prioritized.
Two pieces of information about the film emerged this week though. One is a confirmation from Del Toro that a completed script has been handed in to the studio for their perusal, and is still very much a viable project. The second is that fresh off the success of ‘Fury Road’, DC are courting George Miller to direct. If this is true, and let’s be fair, it’s not the first time Miller’s name has been pulled out of the bag in relation to a superhero flick, then it may well be the best chance this innovative but incredibly risky project has of making it off the ground.
JLD is a relative infant in the genre, having only been in existence since the launch of the ‘New 52’ imprint back in 2011, but it’s members can trace their origins right back to the 1940’s. Following their banding together, the League has featured prominently in recent major storylines, including ‘Flashpoint’, ‘Blackest Night’, and most notably in the ‘Trinity War’. The failure of Amazon’s adaptation of ‘Constantine’ to secure a second series is indicative of how difficult it is for audiences to engage with the more fantasy nature of the material, and could well explain the project finding itself in development limbo. The fact it is now being openly discussed again may be as a result of Marvel’s decision to pursue a magical line with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, to complement their mainstream offerings.
So which of DC’s more occult-themed heroes might you find in the ranks of Justice League Dark, and who will manage to successfully make the jump from page to screen?
7. John Constantine
Having featured in the comics since his debut in 1985 and survived Keanu Reeves’s wooden performance, everybody’s favorite scouse spellbinder most recently gained his own series with the brilliant Matt Ryan portraying him. Whilst low viewing figures mean that the series has not been renewed, it’s been confirmed that Ryan will be cameoing as Constantine in the next series of ‘Arrow’. The writers did a great job in the TV series of balancing the dark humor with the inner grief and self-loathing of the conflicted conjurer. It’s a given that any movie adaptation of Justice League Dark would have to feature Constantine, so here’s hoping that they stick with Ryan to portray him.
6. Swamp Thing
The only member of the list to have already had two of his own live-action feature films and a TV series, the battles between Swamp Thing and Anton Arcane we’re going on way before anybody even conceived of the idea of a multi-film comic book franchise.
The character has enjoyed impressive longevity invoking a number of re-writes, culminating in him going rogue in the aftermath of Darkest Night, and leading to the beginnings of the JLD uniting to capture and cure him. With his place in cinematic history already secured, he’s a dead cert to make the final cut.
Victor Frankenstein’s creation, or monster, dependent on your point of view, is a character so embedded in literature that a version of it can be found in pretty much any comic book company/franchise in some way or form. In DC, he’s been around since the 1940’s, and is represented in the classic Boris Karloff form. Initially a servant of Dracula, Frankenstein returns to consciousness in 2006, and is recruited into SHADE, a paranormal government agency. Wielding a huge curved sword, and a steampunk firearm, he’d certainly be a popular choice for the film adaptation.
The brilliantly monickered Boston Brand first came to light back in the 1960’s, but didn’t become a DC regular until the mid-80’s. A circus performer whose act involved dressing up as a ghost, he became a more permanent member of the afterlife when he was murdered during his act.
Granted the power to inhabit the bodies of the living, Deadman has spent his time between trying to investigate and come to terms with his own passing, and helping other heroes. He’s appeared in several DC cartoons, and Del Toro has already tried to float a solo project for the character, so it’s highly likely he’s going to be in the script the director has turned in.
This stunningly sexy stage magician has been around in DC since the 1960’s, and has already popped up in a variety of animated forms, and in Smallville.
Having been a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, and sometime lover of John Constantine, her backstory has been ret-conned and rewritten on a number of occasions, revolving around the loss of her father and the consequences of dabbling with occult. The chances of seeing this set of fishnets in a movie version? Sky high….
2. Phantom Stranger
Debuting in 1952, the Phantom Stranger is one of the most mysterious characters to ever grace the pages of DC. He spent years in a supporting role, assisting a variety of heroes, and even being offered membership of be Justice League, before walking away from it.
The Stranger is blessed with the ability to see and know what is going in nearly anywhere in the DC universe, and has been involved in a long running rivalry with Jim Corrigan, AKA The Spectre.
Originally having no backstory of any kind, under the New 52 rewrite, it was revealed the Stranger was the reincarnation of Judas Iscariot, damned to atone for his sins for all eternity. Will we see him? It’s distinctly possible…
The dark horse of our selections, Amethyst is the youngest of our characters, having only been around since the mid-80’s.
A truly fringe character, the exiled princess of Gemworld is another one who was rewritten in 2011, into a sword wielding warrior with a penchant for dispatching her magical opponents.
She’s certainly got a look that might appeal to a casting agent, and has begun to feature more prominently in the larger DC story-arcs since her return. I’d give her an outside chance at making the final team.