Justice League Dark or Dark Universe, whatever it's supposed to be called, has been a film that has been in the works for a little while now but has been unfortunate enough to be continuously pushed back.
At first, writer and director, Guillermo del Toro was supposed to be the brains behind the film but ended up dropping out. I was hyped when he was attached to do the film as I love his style in film making, especially in movies like Pan's Labyrinth and the upcoming Crimson Peak. He somehow makes the darkness of the story and the characters still seem vibrant, colorful, and disturbingly beautiful.
But with him dropping out and deciding to remain uninvolved (I'm having flashback of the pre-production days of the first Hobbit film), all hope, for me, seemed lost.
But apparently, this team of DC's darker characters has not left Warner Bros.' radar as they've recently attached producer Scott Rudin, who has movies like, Steve Jobs, Ex Machina, No Country for Old Men, The Social Network (just to name a few), under his belt as a producer.
Not only do they have a producer, they also have a proposed shooting date to be as early as next year (2016), which could mean either a 2017 or 2018 release date for the film.
To make everything even seem a little more hopeful is that they already have the general idea of what the film might possibly be about. The Tracking Board reported:
While the film’s plot has generally been kept under lock and key, we’re hearing that it involves a series of ancient tomes stolen by a madman hellbent on the destruction of humanity. When he learns of this, occult detective John Constantine seeks out a group of heroes that specialize in the mystic and arcane in order to save the world. Though the film’s heroes have not yet been announced, save for Constantine, Del Toro had mentioned that Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, and Etrigan The Demon will likely make up the team.
Sources are saying that producer, Scott Rudin, is working quickly on updating the script and searching for directors as this film is viewed as a priority for Warner Bros. Something tells me that it might possibly be a means to provide an alternative answer to Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange, which is due out next year.
Despite Warner Bros. and/or DC's intentions on their seemingly sudden interest in Dark Universe movie, I'm on board.
Who Should Direct?
Yes, it does suck that Guillermo del Toro is not attached to the film anymore, but there are many talented directors out there that could due a great job with this property by bringing the darkness of the DC Comics Universe to life on the big screen.
My top choice, I think, would be director David Yates, the man behind last four of the eight Harry Potter films that were released.
I loved the atmosphere that the Harry Potter films had under Yates' direction. He was able to really find a way to balance the darkness in the movies and magic without going too dark or too whimsical in either direction.
What also helps is that Yates has a good relationship with Warner Bros, considering all the work that he's done and is doing for them. The obstacles I see getting in the way of him taking the reigns on Dark Universe though is his current slate of upcoming movies such as Tarzan which stars Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie and is due out on July 1, 2016, so he could be busy with the promotion of that movie. Also, there's his other, more anticipated film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which stars Eddie Redmayne and is currently in filming and due out on November 18, 2016. So unless David Yates finds some free time in the Spring, I don't imagine he'd be able to squeeze in another large blockbuster film like Dark Universe.
Casting the Characters
It seems that if del Toro's original vision is to be respected and not tampered with too much during rewrites and script doctoring, then the five main protagonists of the film will consist of:
- John Constantine
- Swamp Thing
- Etrigan the Demon
I think that this is the kind of film that will need some good, recognizable names in the mix so as to bring in the audience. Dark Universe will be almost as hard a pill to swallow as next year's Suicide Squad except without Batman, Joker, or Harley Quinn to provide recognizable characters that a majority of people are familiar with.
Now, let's get into fan-casting. Since not everyone will be familiar with these characters, I'll borrow some descriptions from ComicVine.com to help give the unfamiliar some tid-bit of informative info on who these characters are, then I'll throw in my choice for the role and may offer a brief description as to why I chose him or her. So, here is my fan-cast for Dark Universe.
"John Constantine, Hellblazer, is a working-class magician, occult detective and a golden-tongued con man. He is well-known for his scathing wit, endless cynicism, ruthless cunning and constant chain smoking. A roguish counterculture anti-hero, Constantine is also a strident humanist driven by a heartfelt desire to defend mankind from the forces of evil." ~ComicVine
My Choice: Sam Rockwell
You might think, "He's already been Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2," and to that I'd say that his role was very small, and aside from his brief appearance in one of the Marvel one-shots, we probably won't ever see him again. Also, I know a lot of people have been looking for British actors to play this British character, but I think this American actor has what it takes to pull off the persona of John Constantine (I mean, Henry Cavill is a Brit playing an American character so why not?). Sam is a brilliant actor, he can be witty and funny, he can play the humorous cynic very well. Plus, as a bonus, I think he could pull off the look necessary for the role.
"The daughter of John Zatara, Zatanna is a powerful magician who casts spells by speaking backwards and works as both a stage performer and a member of the Justice League of America (presently Justice League Dark)." ~ComicVine
My Choice: Zooey Deschanel
Mostly, Deschanel is known for her quirky comedies and bubbly demeanor, but she has a dramatic side to her, as seen in movies like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; there was no bubbly quirkiness coming from her then. She also played a serious role in The Happening, but we won't talk about that movie, it's failures were not due to her acting, but to the writing and directing of that film. Zooey definitely looks like Zatanna (especially the way Adam Hughes draws the character) and I believe, if she wanted, she could pull off the somewhat dark magician act.
"Botanist Alec Holland became the avatar of the Green, known as the Swamp Thing, following his death in a swamp as a result of a horrific accident. With the ability to control any form of plant life, Swamp Thing uses his powers to protect both the human and the plant worlds." ~ComicVine
My Choice: Kevin Durand
I love Swamp Thing and think he is a tremendous character. I haven't read much more than what Scott Snyder had written for him in the New 52 but that was enough to make me fall in love with the character. The reason I chose Kevin Durand is because he's a great actor who transcends, I believe, what people may initially think of him based on some of the roles he's played. He's a very intelligent man (check one for Swamp Thing's character), he's kind of got that Southern flare to his characters he plays (check two for Swamp Thing), and he's a huge man that would be very comfortable, in my opinion, doing the motion capture sequences for Swamp Thing (check three).
"After being murdered by the League of Assassins during a performance, circus acrobat Boston Brand was turned into a ghost by the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna. Becoming the superhero Deadman, Boston must aid the people he possesses to avoid eternity in Hell. He is currently part of Justice League Dark." ~ComicVine
My Choice: Daniel Radcliffe
Deadman, from what I read in the Justice League Dark books has a sort of cocky vibe to him or at least did when he was living. When I read that, I pictured someone younger maybe playing the role but someone who could get into the darkness that is there. Radcliffe is perfect in my opinion and definitely has a dark side which is evident from his choices of movies from Harry Potter to The Woman in Black to Victor Frankenstein.
Jason Blood aka Etrigan
"One of the most notorious of Hell's demons, Etrigan's soul was merged with the body of a human man, Jason Blood, who calls upon the demon's terrifying power to fight the forces of darkness." ~ComicVine
Now, before I go into the casting of Jason Blood/Etrigan, I'll just say that I initially had it as one actor playing both roles, however, I have reneged on that considering that both Jason and Etrigan are two different beings, they just inhabit the same body, sort of.
My Choice: Luke Evans (Jason Blood)
I'm not huge on demons, I'm actually not cool with them at all. But in cases like Ghost Rider and stuff I make an exception so long as it strays away from my personal demonic experiences (that's a whole other topic) and so I don't know how deep Etrigan gets into real demonology and that kind of stuff. But I'd cast Luke Evans because to me, he looks like Jason Blood and he too is a great actor not to try and include into the DCEU.
My Choice: Ron Perlman (Etrigan)
Now, for the role of the demon, Etrigan, I'd choose Ron Perlman. Yes, I know he's already played a demon in the Hellboy movies, but the last installment to come out in that franchise was almost eight years ago and in recent months, it's become quite clear that a third film is a long ways off. But Perlman has the monstrous build to pull of a character like Etrigan and I'd think he'd make a perfect choice.
Connection to the DCEU
I'm not going to go into a huge fan theory of how Dark Universe could connect to the greater DC Extended Universe such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, or anything like that. Just know that next year, in Suicide Squad, a connection will have already been planted with Cara Delevingne's role as June Moon aka the Enchantress.
So, what did you guys think of my take on Dark Universe? Would this be a movie you'd go see? How would you guys envision the film being? Be sure to share all your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!