A group of outsiders who go on a dangerous mission that can't be handled through normal channels. At first glance, that sounds like the perfect description for the Suicide Squad, the super villain team which headlined their own movie earlier this month. However, it's also applicable to the Justice League Dark, a team whose own movie has had trouble getting off the ground for the last several years, but finally seems to have picked up steam with yesterday's report that Edge of Tomorrow's Doug Liman has been hired as the new director. So if that earlier description works for the Justice League Dark, too, what makes them so unique? What will Justice League Dark bring to the cinematic table that Suicide Squad didn't? Well, let's start with the obvious difference between these groups: the Justice League Dark is comprised of heroes...for the most part.
While the Justice League Dark is a relatively new creation, introduced at the start of the New 52 in 2011, most of the members have been part of the DC universe for a long time. The Justice League Dark movie lineup will reportedly consists of John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman and Etrigan the Demon. Of those five, Zatanna appeared the earliest, debuted in 1964's Hawkman #4, while Constantine got off to the latest start, debuting in 1985's The Saga of the Swamp Thing #3. However, they're considered to be the "weirdos" in this world. There are exceptions, like how Zatanna and Etrigan were Justice Leaguers in earlier decades, but ever since the New 52 kicked off, they've been seen more as "outcasts" and "loners," with Zatanna met closely resembling a "traditional superhero." Now, the same can obviously be said about the Suicide Squad due to their criminal backgrounds, but in the Justice League Dark's case, they're viewed with suspicion because of the one thing each of these respective heroes' lives revolve around: magic.
Yes, the Justice League Dark doesn't boast your normal crimefighter roster. All the heroes on the team have some kind of connection to magic, whether it's conjuring spells, being turned into some kind of monstrosity through mysticism, etc. Magic has been part of DC Comics since the beginning, with both heroes and villains harnessing that kind of power. The point of the Justice League Dark, though, is that they're the most suited to handle supernatural threats. Read their debut comic issue, and you'll see that their first adversary overwhelmed the regular Justice League, leaving these mystical heroes/anti-heroes to slowly form together to save the day. These protagonists may not be as media-friendly as the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman, but they want to keep humanity safe, too. They just have a different way of going about it. (Of course, there have been instances of bad guys/moles/traitors making their way into the group, but that's a problem that has plagued other superhero teams as well.)
We'd be stupid not to address that the Suicide Squad movie did include magic, thanks to antagonists Enchantress and Incubus, but they were the only ones. None of the actual Squad members were connected to magic. Had June Moone overcome Enchantress' control and started wielding magic on her own accord, it would have been a different story. Maybe that will happen in Suicide Squad 2. Regardless, Justice League Dark marks the first time that magical protagonists will be working together to overcome evil in this universe. Sure, we have Wonder Woman and Shazam, but the former isn the only magic/mythical member of the normal Justice League, and the latter hasn't been recruited onto any team in the DCEU...yet.
Taking all this into account, it's clear that Justice League Dark is will be one hell of a spooky, horror-filled adventure, and nowhere near as traditional as Justice League will look. Remember, most of these characters are rooted in darkness, and some were even being published under the more mature Vertigo imprint for time. Nevertheless, it's not going to be another Suicide Squad in terms of characterization. This isn't about villains who are getting an are being forced by the government to go on a mission to stop a dangerous villain. This is about a group of reluctant protagonists who have to come together because there's no one else who can handle whoever or whatever is threatening Earth this time around. Their magical expertise will be much better suited than heat vision, super speed, breathing underwater...well, you get the point.
Plus, Justice League Dark also allows for plenty of expansion. It's way too soon to tell how it will do in theaters since it's still in the planning stages, let's pretend that if follows the traditional superhero movie path and is given a sequel. Justice League Dark 2 opens the door for a lot of other characters to be added, like Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, Black Orchid and Frankenstein. Maybe the sequel might add some magic-themed heroes who aren't members in the comics, like Doctor Fate and the Spectre. Okay, in that case they are just like the Suicide Squad, but at least the Justice League Dark takes willing members rather than threaten them and inject micro-bombs into their necks.
Are you a fan of the Justice League Dark? What are you looking forward to most from their movie? Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and if you're eager to see the Justice League Dark in action outside of the comics before the live action movie hits theaters, they're starring in their own animated movie this fall.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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