Finally, after years of eager anticipation, the highly-skilled animation team at Warner Bros. is set to breathe life into Justice League Dark, the beloved team of messed-up mystics who subside in all their idiosyncratic beauty within DC's comic book universe.
The announcement wasn't so much made directly, but seeped out thanks to another DC Animated adaption, The Killing Joke. As an addendum to the notes for the film, the British Board of Film Classification highlighted a preview to Justice League Dark, hidden away within DVD's extras.
But although this news is exciting, what does this mean for any hopes of a live-action feature? Is it dead in the water, or will an animated counterpart resuscitate hopes of seeing the likes of John Constantine and Madame Xanadu on the big screen?
A Long Road For The Live-Action Movie
Let's first cast our minds back to the treacherous path of the Justice League Dark live-action journey. Esteemed director and connoisseur of all things fantastical, Guillermo del Toro, had been involved in the project way back in 2012. At the time, he announced he was working on the tentatively titled adaptation, Heaven Sent, which would've included John Constantine, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Deadman, The Demon and The Spectre.
Fast forward two years to November 2014, and del Toro had submitted a script — with the working title of Dark Universe — to Warner Bros. At this time, things were looking positive, opening the prospect of delving into DC's rich supernatural world in the form of Justice League Dark and also a potential adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Unfortunately, in June last year, it was announced del Toro would be leaving the project, casting a shadow of doubt over any live-action adaptation for the magical team of antiheroes.
DC's Guardians Of The Galaxy?
So what does Warner Bros.' exploration of the story in animated format mean for the live-action production? Some may see it as the final nail in the coffin, but let's take the glass half-full mindset; after all, we're living in the golden age post-Deadpool, where fans' voices are heard louder than ever.
An animated version is a low-cost, and low-risk alternative, which could be enough to convince the studio to go ahead with a live-action adaptation if things go well; and there is precedent, with Batman: Assault on Arkham closely preceding the announcement of Suicide Squad (2016).
Much will depend on the success of the straight-to-video release, combined with David Ayer's antihero ensemble, which opens this summer. While Warner Bros. executives may recoil in horror at the mention of a "dark" adaptation after Batman v Superman was heavily criticized due to its tone, one positive is that the film could exist in the DCEU but remain at arm's length — similar to Guardians of the Galaxy within the MCU.
Plus, in an act of wild speculation, Warner Bros. has announced two undefined slots for DC movies — October 5, 2018 and November 1, 2019. While it is expected one will be a solo Batman film, can we dream that Justice League Dark could take the other slot?