Justice League Fans Just Got Terrible News

Justice League Dark has been canceled again, this time it was the HBO Max streaming series being worked on by J.J. Abrams.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

justice league dark
Justice League Dark

Back when HBO Max was first developed by Warner Bros., the company was reaching out to established production companies for original content, including J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot. In 2020 it was announced that Abrams and his team would be working on a high-profile project for the streamer, Justice League Dark. Not much has been heard of the project until today, when The Hollywood Reporter dropped the news that the supernatural superhero team has been cancelled.

Given the wide changes made to the DC Universe after the hiring of James Gunn and Peter Safran in November, which included the “quiet firing” of Henry Cavill and the cancellation of Wonder Woman 3, it’s not a surprise that the often over-looked team was canned. Justice League Dark has been in various forms of development ever since the team first appeared in the pages of DC comics. J.J. Abrams isn’t even the first big-name director to be attached the project, as for a decade, it was in the hands of Guillermo del Toro.

Back then Justice League Dark was going to be a live-action movie and not a streaming series, which del Toro seemed to be quite passionate about, giving multiple interviews on the comics he was using for inspiration. The team in del Toro’s film would have been John Constantine, Zatanna, Dead Man, Etrigan the Demon, Klarion the Witch Boy, and Swamp Thing. It’s that last team member which continues to give fans a glimmer of hope that one day the best Justice League team will get their time in the sun.

Swamp Thing is one of the films confirmed by James Gunn to be part of the upcoming first slate of DC Universe films. The plant-based character is the protector of the “Green,” essentially all plant life on the planet, and is opposed by “the Rot,” the opposite force of decay. An early Justice League Dark storyline crossed-over with Swamp Thing before the being formerly known as Alec Holland joined the team.

dc legends of tomorrow
Matt Ryan as Constantine

In live-action, John Constantine has already made appearances in both Keanu Reeves’ solo film, Constantine, and the Arrowverse as played by Matt Ryan in his solo series, Arrow, and The Legends of Tomorrow. With all due respect to Reeves, it’s Ryan that plays the best comic-accurate Constantine and if Justice League Dark ever happens, hopefully, he’ll still be in the role. Unfortunately, the constant start and stop of a Justice League Dark project is also comic accurate as the team has been relegated to a back-up story in Justice League.

A few years ago the supernatural team was unofficially led by Wonder Woman for a few story arcs during their second series. Though sales were good, they weren’t great, and DC eventually pulled the plug to focus efforts on more mainstream titles. The strange, esoteric nature of the Justice League Dark lends itself well to a smaller cult appeal similar to Guillermo del Toro’s movies Pan’s Labyrinth and Pinocchio, or even J.J. Abrams hit shows Lost and Person of Interest.

The news today isn’t good but fans can take some solace in James Gunn love of the underdog characters, like Booster Gold and Peacemaker, both of which he’s taken to championing. If Swamp Thing turns out to be a hit then maybe the executives will see the gold mine they are sitting on with Justice League Dark. And if nothing else, Warner Bros. Discovery should think of bringing Zatanna to live-action just for the money they’ll make selling costumes to everyone that bought Harley Quinn’s Suicide Squad outfit.