Warner Bros. has big plans for Justice League Dark, and now they’ve set a mighty talented filmmaker to take the helm of the DC title. While an animated iteration of the title is poised for release sometime this year, THR reports that Edge of Tomorrow and The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman has been tapped to take the helm of the live-action Justice League Dark movie, which focuses on the DC superheroes with more supernatural powers as opposed to the bright and shiny heroes of the Justice League proper. The protagonists of Justice League Dark aren’t exactly antiheroes either, as the comics lineup has included folks like John Constantine and Swamp Thing. When the film hits theaters, however, it’ll be called Dark Universe according to Variety, likely to avoid audience confusion.
This project was initially set up at Warner Bros. with Guillermo del Toro writing and directing, and while del Toro ultimately left the project to focus on other things, he did say in 2013 that the film was being envisioned as part of the DC Extended Universe. So yes, this will be added to DC’s slate of films that now includes Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad. Variety notes that Michael Gilio is writing the script, so it’s unclear how much (if any) of del Toro’s work will remain, but Oscar heavy hitter Scott Rudin is producing the pic, which is a huge change of pace from WB’s DC films thus far.
THR states that Del Toro will still be a producer on the project, but Liman is spearheading things as the director and he marks a fascinating choice. Tonally, Liman is much more about keeping things swift and entertaining, albeit always with a focus on character. Films like Edge of Tomorrow and even Mr. and Mrs. Smith are tons of fun, but there’s also an underlying sadness throughout. That makes him a swell fit for this piece of material, and no doubt Warner Bros. has heard the call and wants to ensure that their superhero films are actually, you know, joyful—Liman is a great pick.
However, this also signals bad news for Gambit. Liman signed on to direct the Marvel X-Men spinoff for Fox last year, with Channing Tatum attached to star, but the project missed its start-date and was pushed back significantly so more work could be done on the script. Last we heard filming was aiming to get underway at the end of this year while Liman squeezed in a smaller scale project, a sniper drama called The Wall, but with the filmmaker signing on to Justice League Dark he is no longer involved with Gambit. That said, Fox is still intent on starting production in January as Josh Zetumer (RoboCop) works on the script, so we may hear yet another new director announcement in short order.
Before Liman, Warner Bros. was reportedly considering Evil Dead director Fede Alvarez and Big Bad Wolves helmers Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado, but it’s clear they changed course and opted to go with someone more established. A rumored cast wishlist made the rounds last November that included Colin Farrell for John Constantine and Ron Perlman for Swamp Thing but Variety notes that the lineup will consist of Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, and Etrigan the Demon.
Liman most recently helmed the 1980s cartel drama American Made starring Tom Cruise, but that doesn’t open until later next year. It’s unclear when, exactly, Warner Bros. is hoping to get Justice League Dark into theaters, but one imagines sooner rather than later.
As it stands now, Zack Snyder is currently filming Justice League for release next November, while Wonder Woman is in the can for release next summer. After that, director James Wan is gearing up to start work on Aquaman and filmmaker Rick Famuyiwa is in the midst of casting for The Flash, with both of those films eyeing 2018 releases. Suicide Squad 2 may or may not be in the works, but now it looks like Warner Bros. will be slipping Justice League Dark in there somewhere.