While debate rages on about DC/Warner Bros.' decision to launch a Justice League team-up film right after this year's cinematic reboot of Superman in Man of Steel, it should not be forgotten there is a different DC super-team movie that's been hinted at recently - one that could be shepherded by none other than Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro.
The project has been referred to as Heaven Sent, but it bears very strong resemblance to the recently-launched DC "New 52" comic book, Justice League Dark. Regardless, the story involves supernatural-themed superheroes from the DC Comics universe uniting to fight mystical evil. Now del Toro has dropped an update, letting people know where the project currently stands.
To this point, del Toro's attachment to this project has been mostly rumor, with the filmmaker himself putting out a statement that downplayed the probability of it happening. However, del Toro is speaking up on the subject again, and Heaven Sent definitely sounds like it's currently more of a probability than a pipe-dream.
As IGN reports, there is increasing interest on WB's part in regards to this project - which is allegedly carrying the tentative title Dark Universe now- and del Toro is reportedly working on an outline for the film. The site goes on to state that del Toro has also picked a screenwriter to script the project - a writer quoted as being "perfect" for the material.
For those who don't know, Heaven Sent (or Dark Universe, Justice League Dark, whatever...) will bring together famous mystical/supernatural DCU characters such as Swamp Thing, The Demon, Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Deadman, The Spectre and father/daughter magicians Zatara and Zatanna. Del Toro has a professed love of Swamp Thing - a character who was previously adapted for the screen in a 1982 Wes Craven film; John Constantine was featured in the 2005 film, Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves. Ironically enough, Deadman was a film that del Toro was once rumored for before it stalled in development.
For comic book fans and/or movie fans, having Guillermo del Toro heading this project is pretty much the ultimate no-brainer. Plenty of people threw del Toro's name out there as a possible director of Star Wars Episode VII - and that seems much further outside the filmmaker's creature-feature wheelhouse than a project like this. There's a lot riding on the performance of Pacific Rim (del Toro's first real blockbuster movie endeavor) but given that these Heaven Sent rumors began with whispers of Warner Bros. happiness with Pacific Rim, maybe del Toro has already proven himself ready for a bigger undertaking?
Considering the risks involved with launching a Justice League film before solo character films, Warner Bros. may want the extra punch of having two types of superhero team-up blockbusters - especially when they could conceivably fit both under the "Justice League" brand name. Getting a little geekier: this Dark Universe would also broach subject matter that we suspect Marvel will possibly begin exploring in "Phase Three" of their cinematic universe, via mystically-themed heroes like Doctor Strange. For once, DC/Warner Bros. could pull ahead and make the competition look like they are playing catch-up. Word is, the main hang-up at the moment is WB's need to vet the possible lineup of characters to make sure all legal rights issues are in order. We'll see what develops once that process is done.
Speaking of the competition, a project like this would be a distinct departure from the lighthearted tone of Marvel's The Avengers and more in step with the darker tone of Nolan's DC Universe vision. Then again, it seems like WB is currently more concerned with imitating Marvel's successful formula than departing from it. Should they ever opt for a different route, however, Dark Universe will be a great start - while other projects like the stalled team-up films Metal Men and Suicide Squad would be welcome followups.
We'll keep you updated on Dark Universe / Heaven Sent / Justice League Dark.