Guillermo Del Toro on ‘Justice League Dark’ & Bringing Comic Book Mythology to Life

Published 2 years ago by

Guillermo del Toro on the set of Hellboy Guillermo Del Toro on Justice League Dark & Bringing Comic Book Mythology to Life

The aesthetic of comic book movies, particularly DC adaptations from Warner Bros. like the Dark Knight trilogy and Man of Steel, seems to be leaning toward a darker, grittier, more realistic aesthetic. Perhaps the most logical way to one-up those movies (at least on the darkness factor) would be with an adaptation of Justice League Dark, and that’s certainly the view of Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro, who revealed earlier this year that he was working on a story pitch for a Justice League Dark movie – originally called Heaven Sent – that he hopes will be financed and produced by Warner Bros.

Justice League Dark is a fairly new comic book series from DC that features a team-up of characters who are an alternative to the regular Justice League, not only because many of them stray away from the squeaky-clean superhero path into slightly more morally gray backgrounds and activities, but also because their powers and origins tend to be more supernatural than science-based.

Screen Rant spoke to del Toro at the European premiere of Pacific Rim this week and asked about the status of his comic book movie passion project. The director is moving on to gothic horror movie Crimson Peak before he does anything else and couldn’t say for sure whether Justice League Dark was close to being picked up by Warner Bros., but he nonetheless sounded very enthusiastic about the project. We asked what appealed to him most about it and, with a seven-foot-tall poster of a Kaiju behind him to underscore his reply, he said:

“Monsters! More monsters. When I was following the DC comics in my youth, my favorites were Swamp Thing, [Etrigan the] Demon, Deadman … My earliest love was Constantine, and I love Zatanna, Destiny, the whole mythology. So we’re working on a really rich mythological environment.”

The “we” refers to del Toro and a mysterious, unidentified screenwriter that he is collaborating with on the story and script for the film. Del Toro has declined to name the writer until the project is “firmed up” a little more, so it’s unclear whether it’s someone he’s worked with before, like Hellboy‘s Peter Briggs, or someone new entirely.

Justice League Dark battle Guillermo Del Toro on Justice League Dark & Bringing Comic Book Mythology to Life

Though del Toro’s film hasn’t yet been given a green light, quite a few details about it have already been revealed. The current working title is Dark Universe and all of the characters mentioned above, as well as Madame Xanadu, will be in the main team, along with many other superheroes and antiheroes who have been featured in the comics.

If the film goes ahead, this will be the first time that a Justice League Dark movie has been made, and for many of the characters it will also be their first time on the big screen. The comic book version of John Constantine originally appeared in issues of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing before getting his own long-running series, Hellblazer, and the character is a blond-haired, dry-witted, morally-ambiguous Liverpudlian magician with a habit of getting himself into grim supernatural situations.

The Hellblazer comics were adapted in 2005 as Constantine, which starred Keanu Reeves in the lead role and was, generally speaking, pretty dissatisfying for fans of the character. Constantine’s friend and reluctant sidekick, a middle-aged taxi driver and weary family man called Chas, was played by a teenaged Shia LaBeouf in the 2005 film. Needless to say, it wouldn’t hurt to have the big screen version of Constantine rebooted.

Swamp Thing and Constantine on the cover of Brightest Day Aftermath Guillermo Del Toro on Justice League Dark & Bringing Comic Book Mythology to Life

Swamp Thing has also made it to the big screen, first in a 1982 movie that was written and directed by Wes Craven, then several years later in a very campy sequel. There was also a live-action TV series and a cartoon series (the latter of which had a theme tune that was a remix of The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” and should be heard by everyone at least once in their lifetime).

Constantine and Swamp Thing are the only characters from Justice League Dark to have movie adaptations of their respective comics, and that’s largely where the appeal of del Toro’s movie lies. Unlike properties such as Batman or Superman, which both have multiple beloved big screen adaptations, the Justice League Dark characters either haven’t been featured in their own movie in a way that did them justice or simply haven’t been featured in their own movies at all. There’s plenty of rich comic book mythology in the world of Justice League Dark that has yet to be explored, and del Toro’s enthusiasm for the characters alone makes Dark Universe sound like a very worthy pitch.

What do you think del Toro’s chances are of getting a Justice League Dark movie made, and who would be in your dream cast for the team members?


Dark Universe doesn’t currently have a release date, but with luck it will be del Toro’s next project after Crimson Peak. We’ll keep you updated on any further details.

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
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  1. Keenu Reeves as John Constantine, again.

    • No. Horrible casting first time around. They need someone blonde, British, and frankly who is good at acting.

      • How about Idris Elba then???

      • Jared Leto-John Constantine.

  2. Never really got into the comics, however, I do love the movies based on them. Constantine I did enjoy as I had no prior bases for the character and Swamp Thing I can barely remember as it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen the character and the last time was the live action TV show which was on USA I think. Seeing them together would be interesting, however, I will say I have concerns that if this gets green lit we might as well kiss Hellboy 3 goodbye. The passion he speaks for Justice League Dark, I wish he’d speak for completing the Hellboy trilogy. Cause I have a feeling if he does get the green light on this one Hellboy will be pushed back into oblivion, and he’ll focus souly on JLD and making the sequels if it takes off. And I would still like to see his take on The Haunted Mansion.

  3. I can see this getting green lit, go into production, then get delayed or pushed back because of the regular Justice League movie… or WB liking the script and instructing Del Toro to change out the characters to the regular JL members defeating the whole point.

    Ether would be unfortunate.

  4. I used to watch that Swamp Thing show on USA Network all the time! And the movie was pretty awesome. Also they had a cartoon on him to which helped with some of his enemies appearances.

  5. Makes me nervous cause I am a Marvel guy. Marvel/Disney is doing a Doctor Strange movie and I believe I heard they might do Man-Thing (whom I don’t know too much about but I know is a plant like hero) Either way Man-Thing and Swamp Thing are both plant based heros and it Dr. Strange and Constantine (according to article) are both magic/sorcerer based men.

    Which ever movie company gets there first will definitely be creating something unique and visually entertaining. The company that makes their respective characters second will be branded ( by general non fanboy public) as copycats or un-unique.

    • I wonder if this will happen with The Flash and Quicksilver. I don’t think it’s necessarily about what character was created first, or comes out first on film – I think it’s the one that resonates best with today’s audience. Will they like Dr. Fate or Dr. Strange, Hawkeye or Green Arrow, Aquaman or the Sub-Mariner, the Red Tornado or the Vision, Man-Thing or Swamp Thing? It’s all about the writing. If the audience is hungry for more superhero tales on film, I don’t know if they’ll be viewed as rip-offs. Would a Justice League film really be thought of as an Avengers rip-off? Even if they were released at the same time? I doubt it. The heroes are so different. The story lines are so plentiful. I think there is room for both Marvel and DC to do well on film. Hell, if Image comics put out a Youngblood or Supreme film, most audiences would eat it up – if the effects and writing were good enough. Superheroes are vessels for our wish fulfillment. Slap a new costume on a strong enough concept, and their will be an audience for it.

  6. WB needs to create a DC Studios comprised of real comic book geeks that understand and love the source material. That does NOT include any of the past crew, VFX Supervisors, producers, artists that were calling the shots on previous films from Superman Returns, Green Lantern, Dark Knight Trilogy, and Man of Steel. Yes, that includes Nolan, Goyer, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Zack Snyder. None of their versions of DC super heroes stand the test of time.

    WB needs an elite team much like the WB Animation team that comes up with these fabulous versions of Batman and Superman time and time again.

    • Oh you mean like… Marvel…

      • Sorry but dc animation movies are way better than marvel especially those marvel knights so called animated movies the stories are good but they look horrible and so does that ironman and hulk cgi movie they pushed back .

    • Alot of people have been thinking that also so your not alone

      • About dc animation helping with the live action movies

  7. Which ever movie company gets there first will definitely be creating something unique and visually entertaining. The company that makes their respective characters second will be branded ( by general non fanboy public) as copycats or un-unique.

    • I am claiming plagiarism on you sir! You used my exact words!!!

  8. Quicksilver and other speedsters are a pale comparison to the history, mythology, and powers of the Flash. If the public can’t draw a distinction after both have a fare shake on the big screen, its all on the producers of The Flash failing to show he’s more than “just a guy who can run really fast.”

    The cynic in me thinks they will fail.

  9. if their doing a justice league dark they could do a dark avengers the wolverine makes daken possible, the new spider-man movie brings sack norman osborn and bullseye is still around from that awful daredevil movie

  10. DC needs to take advantage of this, having a great director who loved a lot of their 2nd tier titles.

    Del Toro would be great for Dr. Strange, but I also think Sam Raimi would do a great job.

  11. maybe they are going to do the trinity war the dc universe is gearing up for.

  12. i think they cast for zatanna is Serinda swan she did a great role in smallville. or even lacey chabert great actress to do the spells backwards
    for john Constantine no comment
    i hope they do make it i haven’t read the comic book yet but what i seen in the preview is amazing i just saw the Constantine movie with reeves and i like i Guillermo Toro made a amazing hell boy he is the right guy to bring justice league dark in a motion picture i will defiently go see

  13. I say Rob Kazinsky should be John Constantine. He’s relatively unknown, and was in Pacific Rim, another of Del Toro’s works. He always plays the snarky, smartass, ungrateful types in things he’s been in and is also British and blonde. I think he’d be perfect for it. I can definitely see him dawning the trenchcoat over his shoulder and cigarette in his mouth.

  14. Marc Warren.

  15. the T.V show of Constantine did very well in picking a man for the role and I think that Matt Ryen needs to stay as Constantine.