The Justice League makes the jump to the big screen in live-action form in 2017, under the direction of Zack Snyder and as part of the DC Extended Universe started by Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013. Elsewhere, another DC superhero movie team-up movie has been slowly, yet steadily, brewing: Dark Universe, the adaptation of the Justice League Dark comic book series – which revolves around such dark supernaturally-oriented characters as John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon, among others – that has long been spear-headed by geek-favorite filmmaker, Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy 1 & 2, Pacific Rim).
Although del Toro spent years revising and re-working his Dark Universe/Justice League Dark screenplay with the intention of directing it himself, the filmmaker formally stepped down as the movie’s potential helmsman in 2015, in order to focus on other, faster-developing projects (see: The Shape of Water). However, Dark Universe has now found a new director and it’s one who has been looking to make the jump to the world of superheroes, for at least the past couple of years.
Variety is reporting that Doug Liman is set to direct Dark Universe, with Michael Gilio attached to write the script. The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow filmmaker has been attached for some time now to call the shots on 20th Century Fox’s X-Men spinoff Gambit (starring Channing Tatum as its namesake) – but as that film is currently spinning its wheels ahead of (possibly) starting production at last in 2017, Liman has decided to move on and become a member of Team DC/Vertigo, instead.
Back in late 2015, it was reported that the Dark Universe movie had become a “priority” for Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and DC/Vertigo, after powerhouse producer Scott Rudin (Ex Machina) had joined the project. It’s not yet altogether clear what the future holds for the film, but now 2017 is sounding like a strong possibility for the beginning of production. Meanwhile, Variety’s new report teases that Dark Universe “will play a major role” in the DCEU moving forward.
It was also previously reported that the Dark Universe movie narrative by del Toro follows John Constantine (a character whom Colin Farrell was allegedly being eyed to play last year) as he puts together a team of specialists “in the mystic and arcane,” in order to stop a madman determined to unleash destruction on the world via a collection of (stolen) ancient tomes. The DCEU films to date have so far been noticeably informed by DC comic book stories and animated film adaptations past (see the parallels between David Ayer’s Suicide Squad and the animated Batman: Assault on Arkham) – so it stands to reason that the upcoming animated Justice League Dark film will similarly provide clues about what to expect from Liman’s Dark Universe.
The combination of an earlier script draft from del Toro (who has a knack for crafting interesting fantasy worlds and rich supernatural characters) and Liman’s directorial know-how is a promising one on paper – which is to say, it’s difficult to see a downside to this Dark Universe news, right off the bat. Hopefully, the project’s promise will only continue to grow once the parade of casting news starts making its ways down the line over the months ahead, as pre-production ramps up on the DC film.
Suicide Squad is now playing in theaters. Wonder Woman opens in theaters on June 2, 2017, followed by Justice League on November 17, 2017; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020. The Flash, The Batman solo movie, Dark Universe and Man of Steel 2 are currently without a release dates.