Guillermo Del Toro may be developing a ‘Justice League Dark’ film

Guillermo Del Toro is occasionally accused by fans of committing to way too many projects, more than he can ever possibly make.  It helps if you understand that he knows full well that not all of those projects will ever happen.  One of the things you have to do if you’re a working director is develop a ton of projects at all times, because for every seven or eight films you develop, maybe one of them will actually make it in front of the camera.  No one knows the pains of the development process as well as Del Toro, and he has become very canny about how he spearheads a dozen different things at a time so that he never finds himself without an active possible film when he finishes something else.

We talked earlier this week about why he took the job as a creative consultant at Dreamworks Animation, and how he’s taken a very hands-on approach to his work there while also approaching the entire situation as a student, someone who wants to learn.  I have a feeling we’ll see an era of Guillermo animated films at some point, but for now, he’s still happy to be a sounding board, a sort of idea factory for other artists to bounce off of.  He giving most of his attention right now to “Pacific Rim,” his giant-scale live-action monster movie coming out next summer, and early word from inside Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures has been incredibly effusive and passionate.  It sounds like he’s done something special, and there’s one particular sequence in the film that Guillermo already describes as “the best scene I’ve ever done.”

The question of what’s coming next is a significant one, and there are certainly a number of options on the table for him as a director.  I think “At The Mountains Of Madness” would make Guillermo very happy, but until “Pacific Rim” opens, it remains an incredibly tough sell for the people writing the checks, and there’s no guarantee it will be any easier for him to set up now.  He’s talked about returning to the world of “Hellboy,” and that would be fun, certainly.  But the first two films were not blockbuster runaway hits, and it’s still an uphill fight for him.

Latino Review broke a story this week that offers up a fascinating alternative for Guillermo, and it also indicates some interesting possibilities for DC and Warner Bros. movies moving forward.  Here’s part of what the site published the other day as a rumor from a longtime spy for the site:

Fortunately he passed on the feature version of V and the sequel to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but he does want to do his own version of the Avengers, just supernaturally. Called HEAVEN SENT he is combining all the magical beings from DC Comics in one epic adventure. Deadman, The Spectre, Swamp Thing, Constantine Hellblazer, Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, Zatara, and Sargon as well as Etrigan the Demon will team up to no doubt save us from the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. Now this one is a ways away, but Warner”s lawyers have been working every night trying to clear the rights to all these characters.

This is one of those cases where something is so great as an idea that I have trouble accepting that any studio on Earth is cool enough to actually let it happen.  Guillermo is no stranger to superhero movies.  I would argue that his “Blade 2” was one of the first films to really get the visual vocabulary of superheroes right on film, and both of his “Hellboy” movies strike a lovely balance between the horror side of things and the heroic side of things.

Letting Guillermo work with all these together would not be unprecedented.  DC began publishing a series called “Justice League Dark” in September of 2011 that basically uses the idea of all of the dark and creepy and supernatural characters in the DC universe working together.  They kicked it off with a “The Search For Swamp Thing” storyline that brought characters like Batman, Zatanna, Constantine, and Shade together to search for Alec Holland, who had become Swamp Thing.  They just published the first Annual for the title, and it’ll be interesting to see if this is officially going to be tied to the title or if it’s going to just be a similar idea developed in a different way.  I love that Jeff Lemire, the writer on the series, seems to be having fun with the concept of what a “dark Avengers” should look like as this recent Tweet from him suggests:

@rayfawkes and I have decided the next lineup for JLA Dark will be Constantine, Batman, Wolverine, Rick from Walking Dead and Heisenberg.

You know what?  I’d read that.  Also, keep in mind that Guillermo was attached to a “Deadman” movie for a while, and folding him into this film would be a nice way of scratching that itch.  We’ve seen John Constantine and Swamp Thing onscreen before, but this would be a chance to try to make both characters a little closer to the comic versions.

Based on a few calls I made today, I think it’s safe to say that if this does happen, it’s going to be handled the same way DC handles their stranger or darker titles traditionally through their Vertigo label.  While these characters are all certainly part of the same world that the characters in “Justice League” will be, look for Warner to give Guillermo room to do something a little different with the film, with more freedom to try some crazy things.

If DC really wants to establish themselves onscreen as something more than just an imitator of Marvel, they need to take some chances, and something as left of center as this could be just the right decision.

We’ll have more on this and, of course, “Pacific Rim” as well as all things Guillermo as details become available.