If you’re like everyone else, you’ve probably been wrapped up in all the heroes and anti-heroes taking over movie theaters. With the MCU firmly established as the top dog in the comic book adaptation fight, the ball is now in the DCEU’s court to change up the game with some fresh, uniquely gifted personalities.
It’s been a long, bumpy road to production for the first live-action Justice League Dark movie. After many casting rumors, New Line Cinema officially announced that it would make Dark Universe, a supernatural alternative to the current slate of DCEU films, featuring the superhero league. While fans wait for the project, they can prepare for the new flick by watching the soon to be released Justice League Dark animated feature, hitting DVD and Blu-ray this month.
Although avid comic book readers with knowledge of the New 52 may know all about the members of the JLD, others are just getting acquainted. That’s why we’re answering the hard-hitting questions right out of the gate. So for those who are curious about who is the baddest of the group, here is our list of the 15 Most Powerful Members Of Justice League Dark, Ranked.
The disembodied spirit Deadman, formerly known as Boston Brand, was once a circus acrobat who entertained audiences with his show. When he was murdered by an assailant, he was given the power to possess any living being. Now, he wears the same red trapeze suit and white corpse makeup he died in, forced to help others he feels have been wrongly mistreated.
Deadman’s entry into the JLD began when June Moone showed up on the doorstep of the hero’s girlfriend, Dawn Granger (aka Dove). Wanting to help the frantic Moone, Brand offers to protect her from the Enchantress, who has managed to separate from her alter ego and is on a hellbent mission of her own. He soon joins the JLD, who are hoping to stop the Enchantress from causing any more havoc.
As a spirit, Deadman’s powers are limited. While he can pass through objects, fly, and go unnoticed by almost everyone, his greatest strength is his possession of others, which isn't always reliable. In the past, he’s had problems controlling strong-minded individuals such as Batman, and is also unable to take over anyone whose brain is under post-hypnotic suggestion, making his ability less than ideal.
When it comes to one on one battles, inexperience can be a killer. Making his debut in issue eleven of Justice League Dark, Timothy Hunter is a seemingly average boy with a destiny which directly ties him to the rest of the JLD. As part of Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic series, he was told of his ability to become the world’s most powerful mage. Given a tour through the history and exploration of magic, he eventually draws the attentions of several mystic groups looking to seduce him to become an instrument of evil.
When Tim finally encounters the JLD, he has long given up his powers. He regains his abilities when he touches the hand of Amethyst (to be discussed later). He later opens the Books of Magic and is zapped into an alternate dimension alongside Zatanna, eventually leaving the group in issue eighteen after deciding to become a wizard-king with his father by his side.
Although his powers are inconsistent and wane from time to time, Timothy is ultimately capable of great magic. While not the best wizard by any means, it’s his potential that makes him a threat and someone who should never be underestimated.
A lord of the court for Queen Elizabeth during the sixteenth century, Andrew Bennett wasn't always a creature of the night. The protagonist of the I, Vampire series, he was attacked on the road despite warnings from his lover Mary Seward that something bad may happen, rising from the dead three days later with his newfound abilities.
After the events of Flashpoint, his origins were changed to an unknown extent. While hunting a group of vampires in Gotham City with the help of Batman, he is staked through the heart and decapitated, giving rise to Cain, the first and most powerful vampire. At the request of Madame Xanadu, the JLD retrieves Andrew from purgatory to help with the fight.
As a vampire, Andrew has inherited enhanced senses and near invulnerability. He is physically strong and may heal his body with the consumption of human blood. He has also shown signs of hypnosis by being able to control the minds of others. In the New 52, he is able to walk in sunlight but is significantly weakened by it. He may also be easily killed by decapitation and a stake through the heart, or by killing the vampire who sired him.
The creation of author Mary Shelley, Frankenstein isn’t actually named Frankenstein, but is in fact the monster of Doctor Frederick von Frankenstein, a 19th-century genius who breathed life into an assembly of dead body parts with some help from the Cauldron of Rebirth. Much like the novel from which he's based, he is run out of Europe and presumed dead after sinking underneath some ice. He awakens in 1870 and later meets up with the JLD, where he helps the team stop Felix Faust and Nick Necro from obtaining the Books of Magic.
Despite being written as a creature with little knowledge of life at the moment of creation, Frankenstein is actually an erudite monster with skills as a swordsman, who can also defend himself in hand-to-hand combat. Aside from his zombie physiology which makes him immortal, he is also quite strong and possesses limited telepathic abilities, as well as cybernetic enhancements given to him by S.H.A.D.E. that allow him to interface with electronics. As a downside to his abilities, he is easily susceptible to injuries and must replace his body parts if they sustain significant damage.
In the history of the character, four different people have taken on the identity of the Black Orchid. In the New 52, it was Alba Garcia, a private in the military, who took on the role of the heroine. After having both her arms amputated as the result of an experiment known as Project: Ascension, she required the powers she has today. She is assigned to the JLD by Colonel Steve Trevor to watch over Constantine alongside Doctor Mist, both of whom are agents of A.R.G.U.S.
Over the course of the character’s time in the DCU, each variation of the Black Orchid has adopted new powers. The first version, Susan Linden-Thorne, has the abilities of flight, super strength, and an invulnerability to bullets, although her main power was being an ultimate master of disguise, having the ability to appear as a seemingly unimportant background character while secretly conducting an investigation. The second and third takes on the character, Flora Black and her sister Suzy, could also absorb nutrients from the air. Alba possesses all the abilities of the previous iterations along with the gift of shape-shifting, which adds to her ability to disguise herself.
A new character to the DCU, Mindwarp was created by Peter Milligan and Brian Buccellato for the miniseries Flashpoint: Secret Seven as a lead-up to Justice League Dark. Going by the name Jay Young, he made his first appearance in the New 52 in a hotel in Sydney, Australia. At the request of Madame Xanadu, Shade (still to be seen on our list) is sent to recruit him, despite believing he’ll bring harm to the league. When Shade encounters Jay, he’s about to attack a woman in her hotel bed. The two get into a scuffle before Mindwarp retreats, returning later during the fight against Enchantress.
Unlike other members of the league, Mindwarp’s gift is his curse, which explains his psychotic nature. His ability allows him to project an astral form called a seizure soul. This form can be either tangible or intangible, and can take on a variety of shapes. Compared to the other members, his appearance was brief, as his powers became harder for him to control. He reappears in volume four, issue fifteen, where he is seen being tortured and eventually killed by Felix Faust and Nick Necro as part of an experiment known as Project Thaumaton.
Doctor Mist’s origins date back 11,000 years. In those days, he went by the name Nommo, the wizard-king of the great African empire known as Kor. It wasn’t until he was exposed to the Pillar of Life, however, that he would gain immortality. In the New 52 continuity, he's depicted as a magic specialist for A.R.G.U.S., tasked with watching over the Black Room, a secret government vault which contains mystical artifacts.
The first run-in between Doctor Mist and the JLD happens when the group is tasked with saving the sorcerer after he is captured by Felix Faust. Later on, it's revealed that he was a double agent, working with Faust as a plan to get him inside the Black Room. In return, Faust had promised to resurrect Mist’s deceased wife.
As a sorcerer, Doctor Mist isn’t only endowed with immortality, but is also quite skilled with illusions and enchantments. While gifted in various spells, he requires preparation time in order to perform them correctly, making his abilities significantly weaker in comparison to other magic users. He also possesses the power to absorb others’ magic, using it to his own advantage in sticky situations.
Once known as the sorceress Nimue Inwudu, Madame Xanadu was stripped of her magical abilities when she cast a spell on the powerful wizard Merlin. As a way to atone for her mistakes, she decided to aid those in trouble with supernatural elements beyond their control. She opened a fortune-telling parlor in the heart of Greenwich Village where she has manipulated various forces to enhance her powers. She would later earn back her immortality by besting Death in a card game.
In the opening issues of Justice League Dark, Madame Xanadu works as a recruit, bringing the members together after they begin having lucid dreams following the defeat of Enchantress. She warns them that the dreams are an alternate future which would have occurred had the team never come together. As someone with a supernatural sensitivity regarding occult activities and mystic phenomenon, she relies on her tarot cards to read the fates of the JLD. She’s also been known to levitate objects, teleport, and banish demons, and is responsible for housing the essences of the foes the JLD defeat, containing the entities inside jars that she guards with her life.
The most recognizable face of the series, Constantine started out as a leader of the JLD before being ousted following a fight with the Sons of Trigon at Nanda Parbat. Failing to live up to the expectations of his former lover Zatanna, he drinks his sorrows away at a bar, sulking in self-pity at all the mistakes he’s made.
As a sorcerer, Constantine is knowledgeable in many spells, rituals, and curses. In the past, he’s shown his wizardry when it comes to necromancy, illusions, and time travel, but his true edge is in his quick thinking as the world’s greatest con man. He’s deceived and manipulated many foes who could have easily overpowered him, but thanks to his mental preparation and uncanny luck, he always finds a way to best his opponents.
Perhaps the least known property on our list, Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld was an '80s comic series that followed its heroine through a fantasy world of magic. Going by the name Amethyst, Amy Winston loses her parents, the rulers of House Amethyst. On her thirteenth birthday, she finds out about her hidden heritage and accepts her new role as a princess, liberating her home dimension from the evil dictator Dark Opal.
In 2012, DC would relaunch the Sword of Sorcery title as part of the New 52, with Amethyst serving as a part of the lead story. The heroine went by Princess Amaya and was taken to Earth by her mother. She would later be called upon by the JLD in order to help Timothy Hunter reconnect with magic. She would also find herself at odds with Constantine, who had stolen a portal stone from her, but promised to return it.
As a trained warrior, Amaya is skilled in hand-to-hand combat and swordsmanship. She can also generate sharp crystals from thin air, which she can use as deadly projectiles, and has shown an ability to teleport between worlds by opening gateways with teleportation crystals.
Rac Shade, better known as Shade, the Changing Man, is a foreign agent from an alternate dimension known as the Meta-Zone. First introduced in 1977 by Steve Ditko, he is shown fleeing his realm after he is falsely accused of treason. Finding himself on the run, he teleports to Earth to escape his death sentence. He is later contacted by Madame Xanadu, who asks his help in assembling the JLD.
Armed with a stolen M-vest from his dimension, Shade is protected by a strong force field that makes him invulnerable to his enemies. The vest also gives him the power of flight, as well as the ability to distort his own image and even reality itself. Apart from his known association with the JLD, Shade has also appeared as a member of the Secret Seven, as well as the Suicide Squad. His time with the JLD would come to an end in issue eight after losing his vest in Gotham City. He was last shown returning to the Area of Madness, a realm of shifting shapes and colors that leaves all who enter it insane.
A great scientific mind, Swamp Thing began as the botanist Alec Holland, working in the Louisiana bayous on a bio-restorative formula to bring forestry to dry, desert lands. His plans didn’t go so smoothly. A bomb nearly killed Holland, but his soul was saved by magical forces, turning him into a plant-like creature.
Swamp Thing would learn more about what he is from Constantine, who would make his debut in the 1980s as a part of Holland’s self-titled series. First joining the JLD in the “Horror City” storyline, Holland is summoned by Constantine to help find the House of Mystery, the group’s base of operations. Instead, Swamp Thing finds himself held captive by Madame Xanadu’s son, the crazed Doctor Destiny. He soon joins the group, helping them in their fight against Blight, the manifestation of evil itself.
Described as a plant elemental, Swamp Thing has the ability to inhabit, animate, and control all vegetation on Earth, giving him omnipresence wherever plant life can be found. With such powers, he can regenerate body parts from new plants, and may even transfer his consciousness to another part of the world -- so long as some type of greenery is nearby.
In the New 52, Zatanna is the de facto leader of Justice League Dark. She first joins the team after learning that Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg have failed to defeat a maniacal Enchantress, who has been separated from her alter ego June Moone. Together, she and Constantine shared an intimate relationship, becoming lovers after her former boyfriend, Nick Necro, became obsessed with the powerful Books of Magic. Their connection would be further strained when Zatanna’s father (Zatara) died as the result of one of Constantine’s failed schemes, leaving him to burn to death before her eyes.
As a powerful magician who got her start on the stage, Zatanna is much like her father. Despite speaking her incantations backward, there is virtually no limit to her abilities. She has been shown to stop time, teleport, levitate objects, and even alter reality. With little knowledge of the extent of her powers, she is not only one of the most powerful members of the JLD (despite refusing to use her full potential), but has been described as one of the most gifted members of the Justice League, having spent some time training with both groups.
An anomaly in the DCU, little is actually known about origins of the Phantom Stranger. In the New 52, it is implied that he may be Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He is also said to be a member of the Trinity of Sin, three mortals who are deemed ultimate sinners and are forced to wander the Earth for eternity in order to atone for their mistakes.
The Phantom Stranger joins forces with the JLD in the "Forever Evil" story line. The crossover series would see the Trinity of Sin titles coming together with the Justice League Dark comic. In the story, the Crime Syndicate, an Earth-3 counterpart to the Justice League, exposes the group to Blight, a manifestation of evil which the Phantom Stranger agrees to help destroy.
As a figure with immense power, the limits of the Phantom Stranger’s magical abilities are not known. However, he's been shown using powerful energy bolts, traveling through time, and dispelling magic. Apart from that, it is also known that he is omniscient, knowing pretty much everything about the DCU. The one downside to his abilities is that he cannot directly interfere with the crisis of a character, meaning he may only guide those he wishes to help.
First appearing in Flashpoint #5, Pandora was a mysterious figure who caused the Flash to merge three existing universes into one, creating the universe seen in the New 52. When Barry Allen tries to correct the timeline, he witnesses the three separate universes (the DC Universe, the Wildstorm Universe, and the Vertigo Universe). Pandora informs him that the three were separated by a powerful unknown entity that wished to weaken them, and that only by merging could they survive the impending threat.
A member of the Trinity of Sin -- which also features the Phantom Stranger and the Question -- Pandora was doomed to wander the world forever as punishment by the Council of Eternity for opening Pandora’s Box and releasing the Seven Deadly Sins. She joins forces with the Justice League Dark when Constantine recruits her, along with the Phantom Stranger, to hep combat Blight.
As an immortal, Pandora possesses immeasurable knowledge that extends the realm of single universes. She has the ability to travel through time and across dimensions, and she can also speak any language ever spoken. She is also skilled in a variety of martial arts fighting techniques which she has mastered over many centuries.
What do you think of our rankings? Which of these characters do you want to see in Doug Liman's Dark Universe? Let us know in the comments.