Guillermo del Toro has been on tour promoting his new film Pacific Rim. During the press junkets, del Toro has started to hint that he will be working on a new comic book-based movie. As exciting as Hellboy 3 would be, del Toro may be shopping an even more interesting project. Guillermo is talking about a project that has been tentatively titled ‘Dark Universe.’ ‘Dark Universe’ (which is not to be confused with the 1990’s movie of the same name), sounds like nothing less than a DC Universe attempt at an ‘anti-Avengers’ movie. Basically, the premise is ‘What if the DC Vertigo titles had to assemble a super-team? Here are a few of the ‘heroes’ whom you might see teaming up for the new movie. If anything can have us more geeked for a movie than Justice League, then Dark Universe would be it.
Del Toro said that he considers the Swamp Thing to be a ‘rock star’ in the new movie. Swamp Thing has had a kind of complicated history in film. Swamp Thing made a very good film debut in a1982 feature directed by Wes Craven in his pre-Nightmare days. In 1989, there was a sequel starring the same leads from the 1982 movie. Craven was not involved and let’s just say that any movie which involves scene with a grenade stuffed down someone’s pants is not exactly cinematic gold. There was also a well-received Swamp Thing television series in the early 1990s. Since then, there has been really nothing as far as Swamp Thing on film. We have a feeling that del Toro will ignore Swamp Thing’s cinematic history completely and return the character to its “roots” with a heavy focus on how Alan Moore wrote the comic. Interactions between Swamp Thing and other characters in the DC universe have been done successfully in the past (notable both Superman and Batman). Guillermo del Toro handled Hellboy trying to protect a world which did not understand him well and we have confidence that Swamp Thing will be handled with similar respect.
When your primary film treatment up to this point has involved the words ‘Keanu Reeves,’ fans tend to have more than a little right to be a little bit nervous. If you watched the movie Constantine and knew absolutely nothing about the Hellblazer comics or John Constantine as a character, then there is a decent possibility that you had a decent film going experience. If you were familiar with Hellblazer, you had a right to question whether or not the filmmakers had ever read the book and were free to make a determination from there. Ideally, del Toro has shown in the past that he enjoys doing things the hard way. Integrating a threat that will seamlessly attract the attention of both Constantine and Swamp Thing at the same time will make us say “Whoa.” Hopefully, though, Keanu Reeves will not be the one delivering the line. It is a fine line between Heaven and Hell. The line is even finer between a discerning comic book fan’s love and hate.
Etrigan The Demon
Etrigan The Demon started out as a character which was really a surprise hit to his creator Jack Kirby. There are times when creators are actually annoyed by their own hits. Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to kill off Sherlock Holmes and A. A. Milne lost interest quickly in being identified with Winnie the Pooh. Jack Kirby created Etrigan as a demon who often found himself aligned with heroes against the forces of evil. It was in response to DC Comics’ request for a horror character. The popularity of Etrigan ended up canceling Kirby’s Fourth World titles which were another sense of annoyance. This does not mean that the character was not well written. Del Toro has already said that he will focus on Etrigan’s Kirby roots. Etrigan is also exactly the type of anti-hero which del Toro identifies with well. As a matter of fact, a sort of supernatural buddy cop movie featuring Constantine working exclusively with Etrigan would feel like a natural.
Deadman is a hero who is only supposed to have one stated goal. Deadman was a trapeze artist named Boston Brand who was revived by a Hindu goddess for the purpose of finding his murderer. In the course of this goal, Brand can possess anyone he chooses. He also tends to get distracted from his goal … a lot. The dynamic between a paranormal hunter, an actual demon, and a spirit who can possess bodies for the purpose of justice will be interesting (and highly entertaining if done correctly). Ideally, three out of four of these characters should be at completely cross purposes when you really think about it. This would indicate a threat nothing less than Lucifer himself or the end of all things to bring them together for a common purpose. Most of Deadman’s appearances outside of comics have been animated. Transposing what is essentially a spectral Mr. Smith from the Matrix trilogy will present an interesting challenge. Somehow, even after Spirit of Vengeance, a properly hyped Nicolas Cage seems ideal for at least one role in this movie.
If nothing else, there is a lot of ugly already in this movie and it is in dire need of boobs. On a slightly more professional level (and more professional than ESPN anchors creepily ogling the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend), Zatanna will serve as a much needed magical counterpoint and conduit for the other characters in the movie. In the comics, Zatanna is a member of a race of magical beings known as homo magi. Del Toro has also indicated that her father Zatara will make an appearance as well. Del Toro will probably need to go with the take of Zatanna being truly magical rather than the illusionist which was portrayed in media such as Batman: The Animated Series. In some comic books, Superman had a weakness to magic which gave Zatanna some actual power over the Man of Steel. Of course, a girl like Zatanna wearing that outfit would have at least some power over Ka’el simply by walking into the room.
Superman has successfully interacted with most of the characters already listed. Superman can actually work well in a secondary or cameo role much like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury character in the Marvel Phase One film universe. Also, in the classic The Dark Knight Returns comic book, Superman is essentially a minor yet important character. The influence of Alan Moore is all over this project and Alan Moore was fond of writing Superman stories before his fallout with DC Comics. Famously, the last pre-Crisis Superman story was written by Alan Moore. Even more famously, the interaction involved Superman and Swamp Thing. Clark Kent also serves as a bright counterpoint in this… well… Dark Universe. We can see a definite possibility of Superman appearing at the beginning to alert the other characters of a threat and assemble a team. We can also see Superman appearing at the end of the movie to wrap it all up.