Comic Book Casting: The JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK Movie

jldark9Marvel may have been the first to do “dark” renditions of their top super-hero teams, but DC has the market cornered when it comes to heroes in a darker vein. From its bevy of supernatural stories from the 60s and 70s to its bolsterous Vertigo content in the past quarter century, DC trumps Marvel and now it’s looking like they’re hoping to cash that in on the big screen.

Last year, word came out that famed writer/director Guillermo del Toro was working on a movie project concerning DC’s darker heroes, tentatively titled Heaven Sent. At first it was fairly ambigious as to which characters would star in it, but as time went on plans became more concrete as the project was finally linked to the “New 52” series Justice League Dark. Although it’s still not confirmed if the movie will take the Justice League name or exist on its own, the idea of del Toro stepping foot in the DCU — the dark corner of the DCU, for that matter — is positively enlightening for comics fans. And with that in mind, we thought we’d launch a preimptive strike on the possible make-up of the movie. del Toro — take heed, and feel free to call iFanboy to consult!

The Concept:

Each of the primary heroes in Justice League Dark benefits from a great rogue’s gallery, but I’d leave those individual threats for future solo movies and instead take on something else — vampires. Inspired by the recent Justice League Dark crossover with I, Vampire, what if the main threat in the movie was the rise of vampires with the reformed vampire Andrew Bennett acting as a Paul Revere of sorts, warning the world.

Imagine a Justice League Dark movie starting out with an injured and panicked Andrew Bennett running to find John Constantine in murky England to mount a response to the pending vampire horde. On Bennett’s tail is his former lover Mary Queen of Blood, now working for the original vampire Cain. Constantine could fend off Mary temporarily and hastily assemble his own team of experts — Madame Xanadu, Deadman and the Phantom Stranger (with some rejections from others along the way). But once they put a stake in Cain, imagine a third act coming up where Bennett himself turns on them to take the now vacant role of king of the vampires.

When is the last time vampires have been the villain and not the hero in movies? Let’s make them fearful again, and put John Constantine and co. standing against that bloody tide to stop them.

The Director:

Guillermo del Toro’s already gone on record saying he wants to do it after he launches The Strain television series and his next film, Crimson Peak. Get out of his way!

The Cast:

John Constantine – Joel Kinnaman: Keanu Reeves no more. He may not be British, but The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman is far more apt to play the laughing magician than most anyone else out there. Kinnaman’s about to breakthrough as a name actor playing the lead character in Robocop, and now would be the perfect time to land this Swedish star.

Madame Xanadu – Noomi Rapace: I originally had Rapace cast as Mary Queen of Blood and another actor as Madame Xanadu, but when they both made it to this page I got the inspired idea to switch up the casting. Rapace is well-known for paying hardened heroes such as in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Prometheus, but I’d like to see her take on something more flowy like playing Madame Xanadu. Like some sort of throwback Stevie Nicks but with real magical powers, Rapace-as-Xanadu would be a great choice.

Deadman – Norman Reedus: Deadman is a hard role to cast — that may be the reason why Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke has never been able to get a Deadman TV series off the ground. But after some late night rewatching the Masters of Horrors’ episode Cigarette Burns, I realized The Walking Dead‘s Norman Reedus is tailor-made to play the role of Boston Brand. Although he might not have acrobatic training, Reedus would be a commanding and quirky presence in the movie, and that’s just what Deadman needs.

The Phantom Stranger – Guy Pearce: I was on the fence about including the Phantom Stranger in this already stacked line-up, but once I re-read The Trenchcoat Brigade I could really see how Phantom Stranger could work here, especially as the semi-antagonistic foil for Constantine from time to time. Guy Pearce may not be the stereotypical American movie leading man, but he’s everything this role needs — presence, ability, and skill.

Andrew Bennett – Adrien Brody: Some might argue that a solo I, Vampire movie could be great on its own, but I love the idea of it working inside the auspicies of a larger DCU-centric movie. Adrien Brody was absolutely stunning in Predators and I think could make a great, multi-dimensional character as Andrew Bennett. He’s grown alot from his King Kong days, and I’d love to see him play this role and especially for the eventual heel turn at the end of the movie.

Mary Queen of Blood – Rachel McAdams: McAdams has been generally typecast as a goodie two shoes of acting much the way Anne Hathaway was for a time, but I feel she’s got much more under the surface. I originally cast her in the more heroic Madame Xanadu role, but I think what would be more interesting and advantagous for everyone involved would to give McAdams a more villainous role to play here.

Cain – Keifer Sutherland: Cain could be a minor character with this immense ensemble cast, so it needs someone who can work well in that framework and carve out a place of his own. Then it came to me — Kiefer Sutherland. He’s known now as 24‘s Keifer Sutherland, but imagine him coming back to this — and coming back to the vampire genre 25 years after The Lost Boys — could be magic onscreen.


  1. That Joel Kinnaman is a awesome choice. He’s a good talent & stands out even with the god awful writers for the Killing.

  2. My girlfriend and I are huge fans of the Killing. I’d love to see Kinnaman get more work but I don’t see him as Constantine. Norman Reedus is an interesting choice for Deadman. I could see that working.

  3. Nice picks!

    Noomi as Xanadu is particularly good.

  4. Love the casting choices and the concept is great. Vampires just make sense and although they seem to be everywhere at the moment they aren’t everywhere in this form and that injection of a new angle (or rather an old one) seems fitting and would be perfect in Del Toro’s hands. I can totally see the third act post Cain being great with an Andrew Bennet twist on a six pence.

    I actually like the idea of a ‘reformed vampire’. It just gave me an idea of one of these ex-mafia types who pop up on TV to tell people about that world. I like the idea of Bennet as a sort of cult personality popping up on chat shows talking about being an ex-vampire and what that world was like and people interviewing him because he is one of these crazy loons that make great daytime telly without realising he really is a vampire. It could be sold in such a way that the film’s audience also think he’s simply a fraud and just a sort of comedy character who’ll maybe get caught up in a world of trouble when he is attacked by Mary and then, BAM, he vampires out to fight back but is beaten and runs away and has to go to Constantine for help.

    • ‘warning the world’ in the most 21st century way possible- chat shows

    • I don’t like the vampire angle for this; plus its pretty similar to Del Toro’s “The Strain”. It’d be best if only one of them focused on evil vampires and leave the other one to do something different (which by default would be JLD).

  5. didn’t know their was an americanized version of the killing, does it compare to the original or is all shootouts and one liners.

  6. I kind of prefer the JLD lineup: Constantine, Deadman, Black Orchid, Zatanna. Hasn’t Del Toro said the movie would be called “Dark Universe” and would have Swamp Thing in it? I wish he would go ahead and do “Hellboy 3” but I’d definately settle for this.

    • Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      The tentative title is Dark Universe, yes. But he’s also started calling it Justice League Dark at the same time. I believe it’s Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Swamp Thing and Etrigan.

    • My understanding was that del Toro was waiting for Mignola to finish Hellboy so that the third film would match the ending that Mignola has planned for the character . . .

    • @Paul Montgomery, now that’s a good line up for the movie. I just can’t see the Phantom Stranger actually fighting with the rest of the team. @Cosmo, yea I heard that too and it doesn’t make sense to me. Mignola killed Hellboy already, so how much more of an ending do you need. Synopsis: After fighting the Dragon of the Apocalypse, Hellboy falls in battle and is mourned by Liz,Abe and his children. Epilogue: Hellboy wakes up in the Underworld, opens his one remaining eye, He says “Ahh, Crap!”, credits. Mignola’s gonna be years away from ever “finishing” Hellboy and by then it might be too late for a 3rd movie. He needs to just give Del Toro permission on where it can start and take place and let it happen.

    • The line-up Paul noted is the one I’ve seen a cpl times now and it’s perfect to me. Only a cpl characters shy of everyone that appeared in Alan Moores Swamp Thing volume 4 where Constantine made his 1st appearance. These characters in Del Toro’s hands couldn’t be more of a perfect match to me, his use/blend of practical hands on, make-up & prosthetics FX combined with the right amount of CG FX is exactly where these supernatural types belong, not to mention he’s a solid story teller whom loves comix, specific characters and the supernatural in general.

  7. I think that there is a lot of potential for these characters, especially with del Toro directing. Personally, I’d like to see something more original than vampires, but this concept could work.

    As a fan of Guy Pearce, I find the idea of him playing The Phantom Stranger quite intriguing . . .

  8. I originally thought for Deadman: Doug Jones (Abe Sapien in Hellboy)
    For Constantine: Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim and Sons Of Anarchy)
    Swamp Thing: Robert Maillet (Sherlock Holmes) even if they dub his voice with someone else’s.
    Jason Blood/Etrigan The Demon: Sean Bean or if they wanted to go younger Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

    • Hunnam is a great choice also.

    • I’m very intrigued by Hunnam as Constantine as well, plus he’s actually British. Tho I like both, I have to favor Bean over Hall as Etrigan.

    • Yea but its Sean Bean so the would probably just kill him off.

    • They*

    • I have been trying to think of what super-anything Michael C. Hall could lay for years and never thought of that. And it is absolutely perfect for him. I could also see him as Cain or Bennett though even if it wouldn’t feel as right.

    • I have been trying to think of what super-anything Michael C. Hall could play for years and never thought of that. And it is absolutely perfect for him. I could also see him as Cain or Bennett though even if it wouldn’t feel as right.

    • Agreed on Hunham for Constantine. He’s almost tailor made with the British accent, dirty blonde, scruff look and know damn well he could pull off that s.o.b. punk rock Mage type attitude that made him a cult favorite.
      I’m gonna say a younger Etrigan might fare better in this movie so Jason Blood I’m liking Michael C. Hall or even Ewan Mcgreagor. Either could play Andrew Bennett as well but see him as an even younger actor like the guy who played opposite Noomi Rapace in Prometheus as her BF/colleague.
      Zatanna definitely belongs in this mix and right now see 20 girls in my head including Noomi Rapace, Olga Kyrelyko and Zooey Dechanel.

  9. Leaving Zatanna out of this would be a huge mistake, in my opinion. Her, Deadman and Constantine form the core of the team. It’s be like leaving Superman out of a Justice League movie. Plus you lose the sexual tension between Zatanna and Constantine. Either Frankenstein or Swamp Thing would need to be in this really so Ron Pearlman can play one of them!

    Plus, as an Englishman, I wouldn’t be satisfied with anyone not English playing Constantine. There are very few people who can fake an English accent with any skill. It’s be like having a Scottish guy playing Captain America! I accept that we stole Batman, Superman and Spider-man, but some things are sacred. Like Bond, the Doctor and Sherlock Ho… Oh… right….

  10. Ricky Gervais as Detective Chimp.

  11. Whenever I see Adrien Brody I just think of Splice and have to prevent myself from throwing up for the next three hours (despite me liking the movie.) I do like him as Bennet though, he would nail the cynicism.

  12. I would enjoy seeing Shade the Changing Man in the movie. I love the character, plus there’d be some awesome computer effects with the M vest.

  13. Who’s Swamp Thing or does it really not matter like the Hulk? I’m going with Joel Edgerton.