Director Doug Liman drops ‘Gambit’ to jump into DC’s ‘Dark Universe’

It”s starting to feel like there”s something very wrong with the Gambit movie.

Is that fair? The thing”s gone through a number of different directors at this point, and it doesn”t feel like it”s any closer to actually happening. I”ve talked to directors who got close and then backed away, and I have yet to be able to pin down exactly what”s going on here. Considering this is a major release for Fox, it”s got Channing Tatum attached, and anything X-Men related is given pretty much any resources they need, it is shocking that it”s this hard to get a filmmaker to say yes to the job.

Doug Liman is the latest guy to jump ship, and in his case, he”s got a pretty great plan B, one that I”ve been curious about since Guillermo Del Toro first mentioned it years ago. It is being reported that Liman is now set to direct Dark Universe, which is the official title of the Justice League Dark live-action movie that will feature Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, and Etrigan the Demon.

There was a point not long ago this year where there were reports that the film would move to the DC Animated, and there is indeed a Justice League Dark animated film that they”ve been releasing trailers for all year. Here's the most recent one:

One of the things that both Marvel and DC appear to be doing with the animated divisions is testing concepts for their feature films in animated form. But these appear to be different projects, with the report originally linking them apparently a mistake based on someone seeing the title included by the BBFA when they had to categorize the trailer.

The live-action project is very much alive and moving forward now, and Scott Rudin”s been involved as a producer for the last year or so. Liman, who remains busy, is working right now on post-production for American Made, a spy movie starring Tom Cruise, so it”s not clear when Dark Universe would be expected to gear up. But honestly, with Suicide Squad having held the number one spot at the box office for almost a month now, does it surprise anyone that DC is leaning into the idea of another team film made up of unconventional heroes?

This has been in development for a long enough time now that I hope they”ve got a really smart and fun script ready to go. It”ll be fun watching them cast this one. Constantine was, of course, played by Keanu Reeves in a feature film, and Matt Ryan played him on the TV series, returning to do so for the animated Justice League Dark film. Finding actors for Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna, or Etrigan sounds like it”ll be a fascinating search. We”re talking about roles that aren”t nearly as iconic to the mainstream as Batman or Superman or even Wonder Woman, and it opens up all sorts of opportunities for the studio.

This is definitely meant to be part of the larger DC movie universe, so it”ll be worth watching how things come together as the studio continues to tweak and refine their approach to the larger world that they”re building.

Next up, Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017, and then Justice League on November 17, 2017.