So, it’s finally happening: Justice League Dark, or Dark Universe (as it seems to be called), is finally moving forward in development with a director on board. Many people, among myself, were a bit upset that Guillermo Del Toro was not the one helming this project. Instead we got one a bit out of left field: Doug Liman. A curious choice if I say so myself, but a bad one? Not at all.
Pondering this decision the last week or so has gotten me more and more excited about this idea. Looking into Doug Liman’s past films have shown me snippets of what he could do with a film such as Dark Universe. So let’s begin. If you’re interested in my opinion, hit next.
He rewrites like a champ!
One of his newest films, Edge Of Tomorrow, was one of the most beloved summer blockbusters of 2014. I don’t mean to speak for everyone, but it’s safe to say no one was really HYPED for that film. The premise seemed intriguing and the trailers were entertaining enough to get people to go. Although the marketing was ultimately a failure, it wasn’t until reviews and early word of mouth from audiences began to surface that the film was exceptionally great!
Behind the scenes on the other hand seemed to be a bit rougher around the edges. Doug Liman was doing constant rewrites to the film, to the point where him and his team were nearly making the movie up as they were filming. How would this bode well for Dark Universe though? Well, it’s a comic book movie and changes after changes will occur. From the producers trying to get their way, to the studio trying to get what they think they want out of it. Being able to mold to those people but not bend for them is something that can be invaluable to the studio and for us the audiences.
No Stranger To Ensemble Casts
Does anyone remember the 1999 film Go? It was essentially a 90’s pop culture angst film using the Pulp Fiction formula. Having recently re-watched the film for the first time in many years, while it feels a bit trapped in the 90’s bubble you can’t deny how well the ensemble cast was juggled.
Though none of the characters have yet to be officially announced, Dark Universe will no doubt be an ensemble film. Liman is really good at bringing energy to actor’s performances and even though his last real ensemble film is nearing eighteen years old I have no doubt from his later works that he will bring great things to the table now.
Worked Previously With Guillermo Del Toro
My first worry was how involved will Guillermo Del Toro be? Its no secret that Del Toro has been involved with this film in some shape or form for a number of years. It would be highly unlikely that Warner Brothers would throw away the groundwork he has left.
Interestingly enough, Guillermo actually helped Doug Liman out in the pre-production of Edge Of Tomorrow. He’s credited as “Special Visual Consultant” which is kind of a vague title, but it really means that he helped design the look of the film’s creatures, the mimics. I take that fact as a sigh of relief, by knowing Guillermo and Doug have previously worked together and then Doug taking on one of Guillermo’s projects shows me there will be a fruitful collaboration. Don’t be surprised if Del Toro’s look is all over this film in the creatures and characters such as Swamp Thing.
Has A Comic-Book-Film Itch To Scratch
It’s quite a shame that Gambit is enduring such development hell, who knows if/when we will ever see that film. Having Doug Liman attached to that project seemed like a great fit and it started to look like the ball was finally going to start rolling for Gambit. That unfortunately is not the case and I’m not going to say I know everything that happened behind the curtain, but I find it fascinating that when the announcement of Doug’s resignation for directing Gambit didn’t stop there, the story continued by revealing his new gig with Dark Universe.
Either the stars aligned twice and he happened to get offered another comic book film or maybe he was hunting for another one. Being immersed in the comic book world and not getting your shot to make one of those films I’m sure can be frustrating.
The fact that he didn’t completely leave the genre out of stress or second guessing gives me confidence that he’s in it to win it. If you look at his filmography he has a pretty solid track record and I doubt Dark Universe will be the one that really disappoints.
Change Can Be Refreshing
Having spoken about Doug’s track record it is clear that the subject matter in Dark Universe is not really seen in his previous work.
Supernatural elements, magic, demons, monsters. The name Doug Liman surely won’t be the name that first pops in your head. Action is more in his wheelhouse and even if the subject matter is a bit darker than his norm that is probably the very reason that drew him to the project.
Many directors tend to branch out rather than continue to do the same type of film over and over. There are countless examples of directors leaving their comfort zone and succeeding. Could Dark Universe be a lot more “action packed” than some of us were thinking? Maybe.
Is that necessarily bad? It is a comic book film after all and that’s mostly what we all come to expect when we watch them. Then again, this could be the film where Liman attempts to break his mold and give us a completely different experience. Doesn’t that sound exciting?
So there you have it. Doug Liman is our Dark Universe director and although he’s not the fan favorite choice, he will more than likely be working closely with Guillermo Del Toro (if not at least as a “Special Visual Consultant”). He may not have a comic book track record but most filmmakers jumping into this genre lately also don’t. The track record he does have is impressive to say the least. The fact is we really won’t know what kind of Dark Universe film we will be getting from him. All the clues I could muster do point my expectations towards the side of optimism. I can’t wait to see how this project continues to develop.