The mythology and characters who make up the group known as Justice League Dark tend to get overlooked by the mainstream crowd, left to fester in a dark, we corner of DC Comics. But make no mistake: the roster of characters have their fans - and Guillermo Del Toro is one of them.
Even if DC and Warner Bros. have made it clear that they're not rushing any risky films into production, the director is still trying to make his project a reality. As far as he's concerned, the studio's plans for bringing comic book heroes to television don't necessarily have to interfere with his own.
It seems to have happened so slowly, many DC Comics fans may not have noticed just how heavily Warner Bros. has emphasized TV over film for upcoming adaptations; Arrow is still going strong on The CW, with The Flash set to join him, while Batman's pal Commissioner Jim Gordon will also be hitting the small screen in Gotham Central. The shows have yet to interfere with plans for their big screen counterparts, but many have felt it's just a matter of time.
But the final straw came when NBC announced a Constantine TV series from David S. Goyer - named for John Constantine, the star of the "Hellblazer" comics and a central member of "Justice League Dark." Many viewed the announcement as a sign that WB had cooled on Del Toro's promising (but lagging) script in favor of a small screen adaptation.
Speaking with IGN Del Toro claims that's not the case, and that as far as he's concerned, there's no reason why his adaptation of DC's supernatural characters has to be the only one available to fans:
"We talked about it at DC and Warners, and I feel confident that the two properties can exist at the same time... I think that DC is trying to create a great universe of characters, and expand it and make it clear to the audience that it’s a landscape of characters, and not just one that’s dependent on one or two characters."
Once the immediate sense of relief has passed (try not to think about the fact that a Constantine TV series on NBC will probably lean closer to the Keanu Reeves' film than the comic) there are a few positives to take away from Del Toro's comments, both for this project in particular and WB and DC's future as a whole.
For starters, it's nice to know that Del Toro was consulted by DC and WB about the idea of adapting such a core figure to a TV series; besides cementing the fact that the film really is in development (in some way), the consultation also hints that the studio is as interested in Del Toro making Justice League Dark as he is in making it a reality. Since the director of Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth, and Pacific Rim insists he's "not a superhero guy," studio executives seem to know exactly what kind of director they need to do the occult and supernatural story justice (no pun intended).
Beyond that, Del Toro's insistence that WB and DC are spreading their characters across a "landscape" of platforms, not relying solely on Batman and Superman is worth a bit of emphasis. Fans may be clamoring for a Justice League film, and using the absence of one to accuse the companies of not respecting either their characters or fans (or "giving up" in the face of Marvel's movie universe). But that implies that movies are a greater source of quality and talent than television - and that's simply no longer the case.
Say what you will about Warner Bros.' lack of superhero features (although that seems like an understandable stance after their misstep with Green Lantern), but at present, the company is in the process of giving their fans Arrow, The Flash, Gotham Central, Constantine, and has still refused to give up on a Wonder Woman origin series.
Fans can get upset if they feel that iconic characters landing a TV series makes a feature film less likely, of course. But if Del Toro - who's actually developing a film featuring a character set to appear on TV - doesn't think that's the case, we're inclined to take his word for it. And eagerly await his take.
What's your take on the idea? Do you share Del Toro's optimism that fans will be more than happy to accept two versions of their favorite heroes? Or think that too many different versions will make actual movies harder to sell? Sound off in the comments.
Justice League Dark (formerly titled Heaven Sent) is still in early development.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.