If you took a late night journey into the back-alley of the DC universe, chances are you’d find all sorts of weirdness lurking about. Well back in 2012 Guillermo del Toro took the same late night journey and walked out with plans to make Justice League Dark, DC’s most shadowy and offbeat team of superheroes. Justice League Dark, or JLD, is the Justice League’s lesser-known counterpart but these supernatural guys and gals are no joke. The team, made up of John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, Etrigan the Demon, and Madame Xanadu, battle otherworldly threats Superman and Batman don’t even know exist.
Fast-forward to now and del Toro has since dropped out, no new director has come on board, and the project has been slow going since. But Warner Bros. and producer Scott Rudin are moving forward nonetheless. Yesterday, Latino-Review reported that the studio is circling Ron Perlman for the role of Swamp Thing, Monica Bellucci for Madame Xanadu, and either Colin Farrell or Ewan McGregor for the role of Constantine, with whichever of the two actors not cast as Constantine to be cast as Etrigan the Demon. For Deadman and Zatanna, the studio wants a comedic actor and a black or Hispanic actress respectively.
Two of characters may finally get the on-screen justice they deserve as well. Constantine, one of the most loved DC/Vertigo characters, was portrayed by Keanu Reeves years ago on the big screen and most recently by Matt Ryan on a short-lived TV series and neither felt like they were the best interpretation of the wisecracking magician-turned-detective. Swamp Thing made his (or its) page-to-screen jump back in the 80s, in the most 80s, cheesy way possible followed by an equally poor TV series in the 90s.
In addition, earlier today CinemaBlend reported via Heroic Hollywood that Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, Bloodline) is the studio’s choice for the main villain, Anton Arcane. Mendelsohn however will only sign on the dotted line if he approves of del Toro’s replacement. He’s a damn fine actor, one Warner Bros. shouldn’t want to lose out on, so hopefully the studio will prioritize finding a capable director. Arcane, a scientist obsessed with finding the secret to immortality through whatever means possible, is Swamp Thing’s arch-nemesis. By the time Arcane achieved immortality, his body was so old he was forced to create an army of monsters called Un-Men to transfer his spirit to. Unfortunately, that experiment failed so Arcane saw Swamp Thing as the next best host. Thus, their decades-long feud.
Right now these casting rumors, if true, are just a wish list but it’s still an indication that the studio is moving forward with this exciting project. The comics have magic, monsters, the supernatural, superheroes, and it’s just plain crazy and weird. C’mon, that sounds awesome! Weird is good and Warner Bros. likely recognizes that, especially after seeing the success of some of Marvel’s stranger endeavors. The studio has been criticized in the past for not taking enough risks and for being too self-serious and gritty in tone with its other DC movies like Man of Steel. But Suicide Squad and the upcoming show Legends of Tomorrow show they are slowly breaking that trend, and JLD is a refreshing next endeavor as well.
The comic’s offbeat but engrossing characters combined with their supernatural storylines will make for a fantastic big screen adaptation, provided the studio has the right pieces in place. JLD is dripping in the strange coolness that audiences get sucked right into and if Warner Bros. wants to continue its foray into the murkier corners of the DC Universe, Justice League Dark is most definitely its best next step.