Guillermo del Toro offered a brief update on the Justice League Dark adaptation Dark Universe (formerly Heaven Sent, AKA “The Avengers, but they’re demons and sh*t, bro”) during an interview with Collider. The interview comes just after the news that the Dark Universe script is finished and submitted to Warner and that another project del Toro is interested in (Frankenstein for Universal) is now part of a shared universe of monster movies.
We should also put this interview in the context of the DC cinematic universe announcement, a slate which didn’t mention Dark Universe or the Sandman adaptation. Neil Gaiman explained that Sandman was left off the list because “It’s not a DC Comics film. It’s a Vertigo film. That’s a different slate of films, and a different announcement.”
There’s so much talk about shared cinematic universes right now. I just wrote about something James Gunn posted on Facebook [Ed.- this] where he calls it putting the cart before the horse and a bad business model. During the Crimson Peak set visit you mentioned that you spoke to Donna Langley about possibly doing Frankenstein and that’s part of the Universal monster movie shared universe, so I was wondering what your take on it is.
“I haven’t followed up with Frankenstein so I really have very little to add to that. Right now the only sort of shared universe project I’m working on is Dark Universe for Warners, you know, for DC, which is Swamp Thing, Demon, Deadman, Zatanna. It’s a very different universe. As to the plans to the other one, I wish I had an inside track right now.” [emphasis ours]
We’re not entirely surprised. If Marvel is going to include Doctor Strange in their shared universe, DC may as well compete for some of those supernatural oddity dollars, too. Just don’t expect to see Constantine hanging out with Batman, although could you imagine how much DARKNESS the vibe of that room would exude?
“I’d love to use the origins that are proper to each character. I love the idea of Jason Blood as a paladin and a knight. I love the entire Constantine mythology, the Dead Man mythology, the Alex Holland Swamp Thing mythology. These are really rich things to well, and to dig.”
Two months after that interview we heard the film would see Constantine trying to recruit Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon, Deadman, the Spectre, and Zatanna, and the script might have a through-line involving Etrigan’s past with Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table, “bringing a threat to present day.” Del Toro also said, “Swamp Thing is at peace with who he is, but Deadman is still trying to find out who shot him.”
Perhaps most importantly, del Toro has said the script isn’t an origin story. We learn the characters’ backstories as the movie progresses, assuming the finished script lines up with the original plan. It’ll be nice not having to sit through two acts of exposition before something finally happens. Especially if Swamp Thing is there.