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Justice League Dark: Guillermo Del Toro Shares What He Had Planned For The DC Movie

John Constantine and Zatanna in Justice League Dark DC Comics artwork
(Image credit: DC Comics)

While DC Films seems to be in a pretty steady groove with its output lately, there are nonetheless plenty of movies that have been scrapped over the years. One of those is Justice League Dark (also referred to as Dark Universe), which The Shape of Water’s Guillermo del Toro wrote and planned to direct. Del Toro ended up leaving the project in summer 2015, and over half a decade later, he’s shed some light on what he had planned for the supernatural DC Comics team.

Although the Justice League Dark didn’t form in the comics until the New 52 reboot in 2011, many of its characters have been around for decades. As such, Guillermo del Toro is quite familiar with said characters, saying during his recent visit to the Happy Sad Confused podcast that he grew up as a DC guy. So naturally he had a good idea on what to do with the protagonists of the Justice League Dark movie, telling host Josh Horowitz:

I think the screenplay, one version of it is online, and it was, for me, trying to find the perfect balance of the chemistries of these characters.. I took a little bit of the opening of the Alan Moore Constantine, and I took the dynamics between Abby [Arcane] and Swamp Thing, and I took the sort of revelatory moments of when Deadman gets into a body, how he would experience the consciousness of that being… One of my all-time favorites is Demon, Etrigan, and I love that character. So you try to put them together. Zatanna is really, for me, another character that is really effortlessly powerful and interesting. So trying to mix that with Klarion the Witch Boy.

If you’re a fan of DC Comics’ magical corners, then this sounds like a blast. John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Etrigan the Demon and Zatanna would have banded together to battle Klarion the Witch Boy, and clearly Guillermo del Toro had a good handle on exploring the more personal elements of these characters. Plus, del Toro already proved his mettle in the realm of comic book movies with Blade II, Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army, so Justice League Dark was the logical next step forward with this aspect of his filmmaking career.

Alas, we never got to see Guillermo del Toro’s vision for Justice League Dark make it to the screen, as he vacated the director’s chair in 2015. While Chaos Walking’s Doug Liman later inherited the helming reins and del Toro was still attached as a producer, it was clear a few years later that this movie wouldn’t make it to the big screen. Luckily for Justice League Dark fans, the team members still have a live-action future ahead of them, both together and, in a few cases, on their own.

In 2020, it was announced that a Justice League Dark TV series is in development for HBO Max from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company. Furthermore, John Constantine has his own series in the works and Zatanna will lead a movie being written by Promising Young Woman’s Emerald Fennell. Both those shows will tie into the Justice League Dark series, as will Madame X, the series focusing on Madame Xanadu, who’s been part of the team in the comics.

As for Guillermo del Toro, his latest movie, Nightmare Alley, is currently playing in theaters, and his stop-motion animated musical adaptation of Pinocchio is set to hit Netflix sometime in 2022. Our upcoming DC movies guide is available to those of you wondering what this corner of the superhero movie market still has coming up.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.