Between the formal announcements and the numerous rumors, DC Entertainment is seemingly busy planning the future of their live-action franchises – on both the big and small screen. But with all this news of castings, long-term movie slates, and the numerous television series, any recent mention of one project has been conspicuously absent - Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark.
First rumored in late 2012, del Toro himself confirmed work on Justice League Dark under the working title of “Dark Universe” in January 2013, noting that his story was to feature John Constantine, Swamp Thing, the Spectre, Deadman, Zatanna and Zatara. At WonderCon 2013 in March during the promotion for Pacific Rim’s theatrical release, del Toro said the story bible was complete and that he would begin production on the film after his next project, Crimson Peak. Del Toro briefly mentioned he was still waiting for approval from DC’s parent company, and subsequent interviews in July and October cemented his continued work in it.
But DC’s film future has grown and evolved quite a bit since del Toro’s first mention of his Justice League Dark film. In the past 18 months, DC has announced their next feature film – 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – as well as the television series Constantine, which would star one of the lead characters from Del Toro’s planned Justice League Dark movie. At the time of that show’s announcement, the director stated that it wouldn’t affect his plans for the character as part of the team.
“We talked about it at DC and Warners, and I feel confident that the two properties can exist at the same time,” Del Toro told IGN in October. “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.”
Earlier this month a rumor originating at NikkiFinke.com purporting to show DC’s movie plans for the next four years, with seven movies planned over a two year period between May 2016 and May 2018 – with Justice League Dark not amongst them.
Of course, Justice League Dark was never actually officially confirmed by DC Entertainment or Warner Bros. Del Toro is the only source that went on record about there even being a film in development. And the Mexican director has something of a track record for talking about planned projects only to drop out. From 2010’s departure from The Hobbit trilogy, the cancelled Frankenstein movie with Universal, the mothballed adaptation of Disney’s Haunted Mansion, to the highly-anticipated At The Mountains of Madness.
This week, del Toro announced he is working on an ambitious continuation of his 2013 film Pacific Rim, including a 2017 sequel, an animated series, and even a comic. In the announcement, he said he’ll begin work on this once he completes his next film, 2015’s Crimson Peak. His direct quote is, “from now until April 2017, we’re going to develop a new animated series for Pacific Rim, continue the comic book series started with Year Zero, and most importantly, creating a sequel for the film.”
One interpretation of his announcement it that Pacific Rim-related projects are the only thing he’s actively working on for the next three years or so. In the aforementioned WonderCon 2013 panel, del Toro said his plans then were to go directly from Crimson Peak to Justice League Dark. Between this and his work as executive producer of the television adaptation of his and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain, this would seemingly kill off the prospect of del Toro’s Justice League Dark – at least with him involved – until at least 2017.
That said, perhaps del Toro and DC are playing a long game with Justice League Dark film, waiting until after the DC cinematic universe is established with Dawn of Justice and then Justice League?
A gathering of the DCU’s supernatural-based heroes would certainly have advantages in the market after the success of a gathering of the DCU’s superhero-based characters. Keep an eye on any upcoming convention or media junket appearances by del Toro to see if he gives any post-Pacific Rim updates on the DC film.