Marvel and DC have something of a tried-and-true practice of adapting their comic book properties into animated movies, before they attempt and bring them to life in live-action on the big screen. Marvel, for example, released an animated Doctor Strange movie nine years before the Sorcerer Supreme joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. DC similarly released the animated film Batman: Assault on Arkham two years before the release of the DC Extended Universe installment, Suicide Squad: a live-action film that has most of the same plot elements and characters (as well as the same gritty PG-13 tone) as Assault on Arkham.
Now DC and Warner Bros. Animation are releasing an animated Justice League Dark movie, even as the live-action DCEU version of the DC comic book series – retitled Dark Universe – continues to move forward, currently under the direction of Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow). A trailer has been released for the animated Justice League Dark movie too, confirming its R-Rating and offering a taste of its general style/tone.
The trailer for the animated Justice League Dark (which IGN debuted exclusively) doesn’t shed much more light on the upcoming film’s plot than its official synopsis does – simply confirming that the movie “finds the world under attack from supernatural forces that prompts the Justice League’s Batman to seek aid from occult investigator John Constantine.”
The star of the now-canceled Constantine TV show, Matt Ryan, is voicing the Constantine character in the animated Justice League Dark. Meanwhile, the Caped Crusader is voiced again by Jason O’Mara, who has now lent his voice to Batman in multiple animated projects (see Justice League: War, Son of Batman, and so on) and can currently be seen playing the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., Jeffrey Mace, on Marvel’s ABC TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
WB/DC animation fans no doubt also recognize that Wonder Woman in the Justice League Dark trailer is voiced by Rosario Dawson, who previously lent her voice to Diana of Themyscira in such DC animated films as Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and Justice League vs. Teen Titans. As for Costantine’s fellow Justice League Dark team members in the animated movie: the roster includes Jason Blood/Etrigan the Demon (Ray Chase), Boston Brand/Deadman (Nicholas Turturro) and Zatanna Zatara/Zatanna (Camilla Luddington).
Directed by longtime WB/DC animated movie helmsman Jay Olivia (who directed both the animated Doctor Strange and Batman: Assault on Arkham, as it were), Justice League Dark has the makings of another worthy addition to DC’s animated filmography, judging by the quality of animation and action on display in the trailer. It will be interesting to see how much this film serves as the template for Liman’s live-action Dark Universe; be it with respect to the casting for characters such as John Constantine in the DCEU, or the violence that was gruesome enough to land the animated Justice League Dark an R Rating.
Justice League Dark arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in 2017.