If you haven’t exactly been keeping up with DC’s New 52 line of comics or their recent Rebirth titles, chances are you’ve never heard of the Justice League Dark. Which is an absolute crying shame! Make no mistake, these guys aren’t the B team to the original Justice League, oh no. They are some of the DC Universe’s most powerful heroes gather together to combat threats and enemies beyond the realm of science and reason. If you want to stop an alien invasion or save a burning city, you call Superman and friends. When someone gets possessed by a demon or an evil curse is placed over mortal souls, you call the Justice League Dark. The team consists of sorcerers, elementals, the undead and even a god or two. We’ve recently heard news that director J.J. Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot will be developing shows and films revolving around the team.
Admittedly, I have my reservations about Abrams’ involvement in the property but I am still nonetheless excited that it’s even being developed. I’d like to share a few reasons why you should be too. Get ready cause it’s about to get dark!
Personally, I love reading up and studying fictional magic systems. Whether it’s the origins of the spell from the Harry Potter universe, how Gandalf’s wizard powers work or even the various uses and applications of the Force. It’s always fascinating to see how fictional properties set themselves apart with their own diverse forms of laws and rules when it comes to magic, and DC comics is no exception.
Writers have played fast and loose with the rules over the years but the basic principle of magic is that everything has its price and that most power draws from some divine source. For example, the Angels of the Silver City draw from the power of the Presence, the God of DC. Dr Fate draws from the Lords of Order for his abilities and Diana draws from the power of her father, Zeus and other members of the Greek pantheon. And of course, there’s Shazam who gets his abilities from six mythical beings.
The darker side of the DC world of magic follows characters like John Constantine who derive their power from trickery and calculated sacrifice. Part of Constatine’s whole character arc is that he’s a man trying to atone for his sins after damning a little girl to Hell. No matter how hard he tries though, he keeps putting his loved ones in the firing line because that’s how he operates in the mystical realm. He’s a con artist who sold his soul to multiple demons at one go to prevent himself from dying because if his soul was ever to go to Hell, it would start a civil war. Now that is some hardcore stuff right there.
Another example would be the Phantom Stranger, a man who sold out his master, strongly implied to be Jesus Christ and is cursed to roam the Earth to atone for his sins. To rid himself of the curse of serving the Presence, he must work off his debt. Honestly, I could spend all day talking about all the different aspects of DC’s divine and mystical world but let’s take a moment to zero in on the potential members of Justice League Dark specifically.
An Enchanting Team
It wouldn’t really be too difficult for Warner Bros to set up a Justice League Dark seeing that they already have two characters who have major ties to DC’s magical landscape. The divine defender of mankind and love, Wonder Woman and magic’s greatest champion, Shazam! Both of them are connected to the Greek Gods. Shazam pretty much draws his power from Diana’s dad anyway.
The story could be set up with the regular Justice League encountering a threat beyond their control, seeing that Superman has a weakness to magic. Diana decides that she needs to take matters into her own hands and begins recruiting Shazam alongside other members of the magical community. The list of characters in the team have been fluid over the years but there are some we’d definitely like to see make an on-screen theatrical appearance.
The third member of the team should be John Constantine, the sarcastic, vulgar, English arsehole with more magical tricks than anyone else out there. It would be a laugh to see how his cynical demeanour and dry humour brushes up against Diana’s kind and idealistic heart. The fourth member should be Zatanna, a longtime love interest of Constantine and a pretty badass magician who casts spells by speaking words backwards. I know it sounds kind of lame but trust me, she can definitely hold her own.
Then, there’s Swamp Thing, a character who recently had his show taken off the air. Won’t lie, was pretty bummed to hear about it but that doesn’t mean we can’t see him again on the big screen! Swamp Thing has always been an integral part of the team, serving as its moral compass with an innate connection to the Earth. A guardian of the Green, Earth’s plant life, and a defender of justice.
Some other members that Abrams may want to consider joining his film or show are Dr Fate, the shape-shifting rhyming demon Etrigan and the wisecracking ghost Deadman. Right so let’s talk villains for a moment. Who could play a big enough threat to unite the team and could have a personal history with the current pre-existing characters? The answer to that question is Circe, a Greek sorceress who has attempted to steal power from the God of Witchcraft Hecate and has had run-ins with Wonder Woman.
The plot could see her upsetting the balance of magic in an effort to achieve godhood. Wonder Woman and Shazam both sense this looming darkness and convinces the rest of the team to join her in a quest to defeat Circe and restore order. She’s already a pretty badass Wonder Woman villain in the comics and she’s recently appeared in the current Justice League Dark comics. It’s perfect!
A Terrifying Trend
Based on the news we’ve been seeing with Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the recent release of the Morbius trailer, it seems that comic book films are moving in an interesting, new direction. That being horror. Justice League Dark has all the makings of a great horror comic-book film with dark sorcery, demons and evil maniacal witches. With the success of Joker, Warner Bros has shown that they no longer have to play catch-up with the rest of the industry. Rather, they can set the trend.
Let Disney and Sony play their little games of cinematic tit-for-tat, while Warners works on producing the first big ensemble superhero horror film. Now that would send a message! I know J.J. Abrams hasn’t always had the best track record when it comes to dealing with big blockbuster franchises, we’re still a little sore from Rise of Skywalker. However, he has shown that he knows a thing or two about horror with his involvement in films like Super 8, 10 Cloverfield Lane and 2018’s Overlord.
I’m willing to give the man a chance as long as he stays true to his vision. Part of the problem during his time on Disney’s Star Wars franchise was that he wasn’t afforded full creative control. He had to deal Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi and probably a dozen other Disney execs giving him notes and altering his plan. It must have been deeply frustrating. Perhaps if afforded more creative autonomy, Abrams could put his horror talents to good use and give us something truly spectacular and groundbreaking. He seems excited to create films and shows about the Justice League Dark team so hopefully, that enthusiasm translates into quality.
If it seems like I’m seriously geeking out at the prospect at the idea of a Justice League Dark team then you’re absolutely right. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has a genuine chance to reinvent itself after Joker and I believe that the DCEU needs a little more magic in it.