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

Published 1 year 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.

TAGS: heaven sent, justice league

97 Comments

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  1. Forget JL Dark! Give him Justice League!!

    • Clearly you haven’t been reading JLD comics recently.

  2. Maybe del Toro proves with Justice League Dark that he can do Justice League!

    • It will be a damn shame if justice league dark comes out before justice league but i would see it if its done right but i would still be mad

      • Not to be a Snerdley, but I kind of think that DC/Warner will come out loking worse than they do already with all their vacilliating and stalling if Justice league dark comes out first. I do not think it will do mwell (although I would not mind seeing Spectre and Deadman in action), although i wish it well. I really want to see DC/Warner do something–ANYTHING!!– to get JLA rolling, even if it is just The Flash movie (which I really want to see, and am hoping the villain is Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash). Or do Green Lantern #2 (Hal Jordan/Ryan Reynolds, but make RR much more serious). Or a mini-team-up: say Martian Manhunter, The Atom, and Hawkman. Or JLA itself. Do *S*U*M*T*H*I*N*G*! And I don’t want to see Batman or Superman in that something, there are other things to do (I am waiting for Man Of Steel to come out on DVD, and I will buy it. It looks actually good, and that comes from the guy who did not care for any previous Superman or batman movies by anyone so far). Oh, and my personal “want list” includes a Doctor Fate and Hourman team-up movie, as long as I am sitting here fantasizing.

        • you do realize that this movie wont be called Justice League Dark and probably wont be a Justice League movie? hence the working title Dark Universe

    • I feel like his style won’t fit a Justice League movie. However, he is perfect for a Justice League Dark movie as far as tone is concerned. Although a Justice League movie by him might be excellent in its own right, there are many other directors that are better suited to the task IMO. Justice League Dark, and some of the Marvel properties, Ghost Rider, Blade, and perhaps Daredevil, in his hands, would be amazing.

      • He did make a Blade Movie! The best one!!! “Blade II”

        • Third best in my opinion. First movie was the best then I liked the third one better. For some reason, the second one bored me and felt a little too silly.

          • The Third Blad was Atrocious. Acting sucked, Ending sucked, story could’ve been soo much better. Only good part of Blade 3 was Ryan Reynolds.

          • Dazz, your a vocal hater of The Avengers, but you liked Blade Trinity? I’m having trouble processing that.

            • No doubt. That’s like a dog turning down bacon in favor of poop.

              • You haven’t eaten at the local greasy spoon by my neighborhood lately…..hard choice….!

            • @acathla

              That’s the great thing about having differing opinions. Nobody has to like and hate the same things. Otherwise, life would be boring.

              I mean, I could tell everyone to love Devin Townsend as the greatest musician of all time but that would be trolling and be completely selfish and not take into account that others might not be into his work.

              Hell, my Top Five movies of all time include The Shining, Commando, Robocop, Ghostbusters and Cloverfield.

              Others don’t like or won’t have even heard of some of those movies but I’ll defend them to the death because in my opinion, they’re amazing. I also have always found Star Trek to be boring despite millions of fans loving it to obsessive levels but I don’t rag on them for liking something I don’t like.

              That would be immature.

              • I never really cared that much for any of the Star Treks, either, although I confess to watching a few episodes of Star Trek Voyager and Star Trek: TNG if someone else had it on and I happened to be in the living room.

  3. With his work establishing dark and rich worlds and creatures, Del Toro is the perfect choice to helm JLD. WB needs to get off their butts and fast track this. As Marvel keeps taking risks and continues to get rewarded, WB is too hung up deciding what to do next. They have a ton of good comics at their disposal and if they are nervous about trying it out, better with something like this than to have another Green Lantern on their hands.

  4. Not a fan of JLD, better give it to Nolan.

    • Nolan is not compatible with Justice League Dark.

      • Very true. When dealing with the more supernatural characters of DC, there’s no way you could consider Nolan, cause he’s ALL about realism in his films. Del Toro would be a phenomenal choice.

        • Trey Nolan is all about realism? please explain the realism behind Inception? a dream within a dream within a dream? errr tried that once and i couldnt sleep. LOL

          anyway i think we need to give up hope for Nolan doing anything DC other than attach his name for profits.

          i love his work, and honestly i was sceptical when batman begins came out on how he would work it. but he pulled a good flick out, then wowed us with TDK. point is maybe someone else can do that again.

      • Nolan got involved with MOS which Superman is alien with super powers. Superpowered beings or supernatural, makes no difference. A lot of people seem to think he can handle any DC film. Now he can’t?

        • If he can, he wouldn’t be interested in it. You can’t simply force Nolan to do whatever you want. He’s busy with Interstellar for the next couple of years anyway.

          • I see Nolan would only work on whats popular or has been done already.

        • Science Fiction is easier to jive with Nolan’s approach than Fantasy Fiction. Whereas Del Toro is right at home when it comes to dealing with Fantasy. That’s why he (or directors like him) top my list for Aquaman and Wonder Woman treatments. Let Nolan stick to Supes and Bats. Get Del Toro to work on Diana and Arthur. And have someone blue collar handle Green Lantern and Flash (maybe Kevin Smith if he can find someone to pull his jabs).

          • And I heard people say Nolan should handle every DC film because he has the know-how. Scratch that.

            • That’s just idiotic. It’s like saying Pele could beat Michael Jordan at a game of hoops. I’m a Nolan fan, but far from a Nolanite. Sometimes people should stick with what they do best. Nolan works for Superman because DC characters are thematically paired in dichotomies. Superman is the antithesis of Batman. GL and Flash and so on. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Specter, Deadman, Hellblazer, Zatanna are all “magic” and I don’t think Nolan can pull off magic. I mean, just watch the Prestige. Del Toro though, magic he does well.

  5. All will depends on how audience response to Pacific Rim. If it’s a mega hit you can be sure JLD will be a go and in the process his Lovecraft project which am more excited to see on big screen

    • I think his Lovecraft project was dropped because Prometheus was too similar or something like that. I read somewhere he mentioned this.

      • I believe Del Toro wanted it to be more expensive than the studio wanted to spend on it, plus Del Toro wanted a rating of “R” on it and the studio balked. I would like to see him shop out At The Mountains Of Madness to a different studio, since I like Lovecraft, but would rather see a true-to-the-story effort of Lovecraft’s The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward by somebody (competent; someone should be able to do it, source material in hand).

  6. I really want this to happen, mainly because I really want a proper Hellblazer movie and this would be just as good. John’s too good a character to NOT be a movie (forgetting the Keanu one which was good but not really a true Hellblazer).

  7. Keanu reeves was great as Constatine. DC needs more movies.

    • Hopefully DC will grow a pair and start the process of cranking them out. You can have more than 1 director to direct all the dc movies

      • @B. Siegel: Truer words have been seldom spoken, BS! I am with you all the way on that!

    • +1

    • More movies…I agree, Chris. And I am sure there are a few of us here who could give them some ideas where to start!

  8. This is a match made in heaven. It’s a movie I would see repeteadly on the theater and then buy when available.

  9. My son told me he ain’t gonna watch it because it’s well…too dark. Hehe. But seriously this is gonna be awesome! I did’nt even know there was a JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK if it wasn’t for this column). Those were great characters on the line up! I hope this movie will push through (crossing fingers). I didn’t know Guillermo del Toro is such a fan! So cool!!

    • Justice League Dark started last year I think in The New 52. A lot of Hellblazer fans didn’t like it because Constantine went back to being a young man again in JLD and his solo comic book (which started earlier this year) and are campaigning to have the original Hellblazer with a 60 year old Constantine continue in some way.

    • Include Spectre and Deadman, and I will give it a watch.

  10. Have Alexander Sarsgaard play Constantine and I’m on board.

  11. If anyone thinks Warner Bros. will allow Justice League Dark to be made before they get their main DC characters out then they’re fooling themselves.

    If Justice League Dark does come out before any of the main DC characters get their own universe, take that as Warner Bros. throwing in the towel.

    • Well, they did make a Jonah Hex and Constantine movie before Wonder Woman or Flash and just barely before Green Lantern, so it’s not like DC’s above putting out their more obscure comics than their flagship ones. Point is, they really haven’t shown a lot of direction over the years or consistency, so as unlikely as this movie is, I still wouldn’t be surprised if it got greenlit over Wonder Women since WB thinks she has cooties or something.

    • It doesn’t even have to be called ‘Justice League Dark’. That was just thrown in the comics as a riff. These guys are not superheroes by any stretch and can call themselves by any name. Before JLD DC had a supernatural-themes team-up book called The Shadowpact. They can just call this that.

      • I just hope since an awful lot of movie-makers change the ethnic makeup of their characters, that they don’t decide “Justice League Dark” means everyone has to be a black character! I’m not trying to be racist (why does everyone go from whatever to black, except for The Mandarin, who shed his Asian background, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are now British instead of Eastern European), as I have nothing–absolutely nothing-against black actors and actresses, of which there are some excellent ones (or against people of ANY ethnic background at all). I just get so fed up with studios and their personel changing the makeup of characters from the source-material always to be “liberal”, “politically correct” (huh?? From whose viewpoint??), that I want to box their ears like the Flash throwing his Flying Fists Of Fury against a boxing bag! NO BIAS INTENDED!!!

        • how about you open your mind to the fact that they are fictional and the creators can make them whatever they want to be and you as the viewer should just take in the story. I’m sorry that you want so hard to keep the status quo. Youre probably one of the people that complained about Heimdall being Idris Alba in Thor. One character ethnicity change, threatened the whole movie for you. Fact is, it is a bias and outright bigotry. It really wouldnt matter the source I’m sure, as showing non stereotypical people of any race on TV or screen playing various characters is probably a joke to you since they arent talking juve, slang, asain should all pronounce their L’s as R’s so of course one couldnt play your favorite hero….and even if he does it was a “PC”, “liberal”…frankly youve proven your bias by labeling people that include other races and cultures, which is considerate of fellow man and viewers or at least appealing to their pockets, as liberals. . The destroying of the story and the characters personality ISNT a big deal? but them becoming black or asian is? The whole “I’m not racist…there are some good ones” is base racism. Go watch Fox “News” I think youll get more of what youre looking for…I personally dont like character races changed and the character made into a racial stereotype but why would i choose to share that randomly on Screenrant unless i was a dick that wanted to start a race baiting conversation as you did

        • how about you open your mind to the fact that they are fictional and the creators can make them whatever they want to be and you as the viewer should just take in the story. I’m sorry that you want so hard to keep the status quo. Youre probably one of the people that complained about Heimdall being Idris Alba in Thor. One character ethnicity change, threatened the whole movie for you. Fact is, it is a bias and outright bigotry. It really wouldnt matter the source I’m sure, as showing non stereotypical people of any race on TV or screen playing various characters is probably a joke to you since they arent talking juve, slang, asain should all pronounce their L’s as R’s so of course one couldnt play your favorite hero….and even if he does it was a “PC”, “liberal”…frankly youve proven your bias by labeling people that include other races and cultures, which is considerate of fellow man and viewers or at least appealing to their pockets, as liberals. . The destroying of the story and the characters personality ISNT a big deal? but them becoming black or asian is? The whole “I’m not racist…there are some good ones” is base racism. Go watch Fox “News” I think youll get more of what youre looking for…I personally dont like character races changed and the character made into a racial stereotype but why would i choose to share that randomly on Screenrant unless i was a d*ck that wanted to start a race baiting conversation as you did

  12. Needless to say I would be very excited if this comes true.
    The is a great combination of storyteller, context, and my personal taste.
    The concept is grand and some of these characters so awesome.

    I would not be surprised this movie being made prior to the Justice League.
    This film does not have to deal with question of rebooting characters, or whether or not to do solo films as all the characters are tied together quite nicely.
    So it seems easier to follow through in some ways.

    Risky, sure. But I think the fact the most of the characters, and the concept in general is not well known can be a huge advantage in some areas such as:

    -over-hype
    -comparable competition
    -struggling to break free or re-interpret iconic characters

    Plus, it is a different direction. Some major set-back may be the studio wondering how this potential film (and franchise?) may fit into a larger universe as set by Man of Steel.

  13. Don’t know anything about Justice League Dark but after reading this article, it seems pretty awesome. I’ll definitely be in the theater if it gets the green light.

  14. The Swamp Thing deserves a new movie series of its own: The source material is certainly better than schlock like Friday the 13th and Evil Dead.

    And Hellblazer sure as hell deserves a TV series in the style of the Vertigo comics. Maybe HBO.

    JLD sounds great, but these characters are seriously under-exposed compared to their potential.

  15. Who could play Zatanna

  16. I can’t imagine them labeling the film “Justice League” in any part of the title, unless they are abandoning the idea of the OTHER JL film for the foreseeable future. Too confusing to have completely seperate franchises sharing the same Recognizable name. Maybe it would just be called Dark Unniverse? I dont know the series, but it sounds like it might need to diferentiate its tone from Watchmen, which thrived on the villainy of “heroes” and complexly flawed individuals.

    Constantine was weak, but had a few cool parts. The demons were freaky and memorable.

    • ‘The Shadowpact’ would be a fine title. That’s what DC’s supernatural-themed team-up was called before Justice League Dark.

  17. This is a match made in heaven. It’s a movie I would see repeteadly on the theater and then buy when available.

  18. I guess I am in the minority, but I thought Constantine was an incredible film.

    I am a fan of Del Toro and although I don’t read comic books this probably would be awesome!

    • Don’t get me wrong, Constantine was a good movie, it just wasn’t a proper Hellblazer movie.

  19. It is impossible, but what if Joss Wheadon was the mystery guy writing the script 0.o

  20. If this gets made I’ll be there opening night. Del Toro is hands down the go to guy for JLD.

  21. This project not happening until justice league gets done. Agree with person who said just give him justice league of america and let nolan make his other films, wb
    cant be falling further and further behind against marvel, there should have been
    another dc movie already filming and time is awasting.

  22. Dont they form because of a supernatural magical threat the justice league couldnt handle but they can always switch stuff up its a movie but somebody from the justice league will have to be in it

  23. It’s disturbing how often SR can make a huge article about a two sentence quote. Still love the site though guys lol.

    • That’s why it’s my favorite site!!! :)

      • They’ll make an article about your comment now. (^-^)

      • I used to comment all the time on Blastr until they changed the format. Now you have to be a member of Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social media network site to comment. I don’t do those, not MyFace, not Twatter, not any of those. Are they selling out to get advertising or something? I don’t know. So I switched over. Too bad, as I used to enjoy commenting on there. I notice since they switched, they lost ALOT of their commentators. I wrote them and complained, but never even got the courtesy of a reply. I still read them and ComicBookMovie as well as Screen Rant, but SR is the only one I comment on.Keep your format, SR, just as it is. Like it and recommend it to other people.

  24. I hope Del Toro is able to bring some (well thought-out) version of these characters/this team to theaters in a reasonable amount of time…whether before OR after a Justice League film. “Shadowpact” would indeed be a great, appropriate name, but there are plenty of options. Personally, along with some combination of the aforementioned characters, I would love to see Ragman and/or Black Orchid on the big screen. This film would also provide an excellent in for beings such as the Endless to make their presence known in the greater DC Universe. This would also provide DC with a unique and interesting take on the team-up film…

    • @ Archeon
      +1

      • +1 from me too

    • You had me at “Ragman.”

  25. Spectre and Deadman with a brief appearance by the Dark Knight would sell this thing out.

  26. Jude law as Constantine

  27. Paul Bettany for Constantine, please please please

  28. My issue with all this is the fact that fans of the comics always want it like the comic. When a movie company decides to make a movie they try to make it appealing to everybody and not just the geeks!! I liked the Constantine movie with Keanu yet all I see from the geeks is “it sucked” or “it’s not like the comic” all I got to say is “WHO CARES!!” I watched a movie that looked cool and I found it entertaining just like I would JLD..

  29. Justice League Dark will be DC’s version of Marvel’s GotG.

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