In a big development for the still-young DC Extended Universe, we just learned that a live-action film version of the Justice League Dark is still happening after languishing in development hell for years and being absent from Warner Bros and DC’s big schedule. “Edge of Tomorrow” director Doug Liman is taking over the project from Guillermo del Toro, and the DCEU will soon have another big teamup movie in its lineup.
But what the hell actually is Justice League Dark? We know the regular Justice League very well at this point, because it’s been around forever and features heroes that have been front and center in pop culture for a long time, like Batman and Superman.
But Justice League Dark is something else entirely. It’s a title that’s only been around for a handful of years, and the team isn’t exactly stocked with famous characters. So let’s dive into this other Justice League and see what’s up.
The Justice League Dark was introduced in 2011 as part of the New 52 reboot of the DC Comics shared continuity. The group formed in order to stop Enchantress, after the Justice League failed to do so. The problem was magic — and Justice League’s lack of it. (Even Superman is vulnerable to magic). And so the sorceress Madame Xanadu assembles a team better equipped to deal with a magical threat. Enchantress, oddly enough, was just featured in “Suicide Squad” as the villain.
Over the years since, the team has included a revolving door of heroes, but the current reports about the movie version of Justice League Dark say the team will include five members who I’ll detail below:
John Constantine — If there’s anyone in the Justice League Dark that I’d say we know well, it’s the Hellblazer. In 2005, Keanu Reeves starred in the “Constantine” movie, and in 2015 a “Constantine” TV show came and went pretty quickly on NBC. Constantine is both a user of magic and a scholar; his real power is his vast wealth of knowledge about the occult and magic, as well as his skills as a con artist and trickster.
Swamp Thing — The other member of the team who has a place in the greater pop culture, thanks mostly to Wes Craven‘s 1982 “Swamp Thing” movie. This guy, whose real name is Alec Holland, is made of plants, and he can heal himself at will with any plant matter nearby. He can even make an entire new body for himself and transfer into it if he chooses to. He’s also extremely strong.
Deadman — Actually a ghost, Deadman has the power to possess any living thing and control its body. As a ghost, of course, he can also walk through walls and stuff.
Zatanna — A magician (like, the kind who gets up on stage and does tricks), and also a magician (like, the kind who does actual magic). As a sorceress, Zatanna is incredibly powerful, and she typically casts spells with her voice, which is of course a vulnerability. Interestingly enough, Zatanna was once a member of the actual Justice League.
Etrigan the Demon — If you didn’t think Justice League Dark was weird enough yet, Etrigan is here to solve that problem. This guy is, as his name says, an actual demon from actual Hell. Etrigan can use magic, is very strong, has claws, can heal himself, and can shoot fire from his mouth. Being from Hell, he likes pain, and his weaknesses are all the standard holy stuff.
These are just a few of the revolving cast of the Justice League Dark, however — we’ve also had an angel, a vampire, a magical healer and Frankenstein’s monster, among many other oddities.
It’s almost definitely going to be a while before we get Doug Liman‘s Justice League Dark movie, but this year there will be an animated film featuring the team members listed above, as well as the shapeshifter Black Orchid.