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How del Toro’s Dark Universe Could Open Up A Whole New Frontier for DC Entertainment

The (somewhat surprising) revelation that Guillermo del Toro really is working on a movie that teams DC Comics’ supernatural characters like Zatanna, John Constantine, Deadman and Swamp Thing isn’t just a tease for what would likely end up being a good movie, it’s a sign of a way that DC could avoid looking like they’re attempting to follow in Marvel’s footsteps a little too closely.

With all the talk of DC’s Justice League movie – currently scheduled for a 2015 release – there’s the unanswered question “So, how is it going to differentiate itself from Marvel’s Avengers franchise?” After all, while comic book fans could easily list reasons why the two teams are different, to the average moviegoer, it’s the same trick done twice: Lots of super-heroes in a gang, fighting a bad guy and saving the world. Worse yet, Avengers was pretty great, and a demonstration of how handily Marvel seems to have cornered the superhero space when it comes to blockbuster summer movies. In response, DC had Christopher Nolan’s Batman series (Now finished), a flop Green Lantern and a lot of hope for this summer’s Man of Steel.

Del Toro’s Dark Universe, however, has come out of left field and offers something that Marvel hasn’t attempted yet: A superhero movie that’s really a horror movie. The characters del Toro has named for the project don’t wear costumes as such (Deadman, perhaps, could be described as costumed, but it’s more a carnival costume than a superhero one), and very purposefully fall outside of the superhero paradigm as Marvel has come to define it in moviegoers’ minds. More importantly, while they can play with superhero tropes – There’s almost no doubt that there will be some world-saving happening in del Toro’s movie, let’s face it – the characters and movie are more likely to fall into a familiar horror or action/adventure genre in the end.

Marvel has conquered superhero movies, but it has also firmly stayed inside that genre to date (And will, it seems, continue to do that with its next wave of releases). If Warners and DC Entertainment wanted to make the most out of their intellectual property and avoid comparisons to Marvel, the obvious solution, surely, is to do more of what del Toro is offering and work outside of the superhero genre. DC Comics is more than 75 years old, after all, and has characters that exist in all manner of other genres, from fantasy (Amethyst), war (Sgt. Rock), space opera (The Omega Men – Yes, you heard me) through kid-friendly fare like Sugar and Spike. Why not try and turn Angel and The Ape into a comedy, or Nathanial Dusk into a thriller? Hell, you even have the potential for a great western just sitting there with Jonah He – Actually, maybe not.

Nonetheless, it’d be nice to think that del Toro could lead the way to a DC Entertainment movieverse that offers something purposefully different from what Marvel’s “cinematic universe” already does. We already have those needs met quite well, thank you very much. Let’s see what else is out there.


  • Earzmundo

    tried this with constantine..hellboy etc. the response will be lukewarm at best, look at watchmen as an example

  • matt

    DC is having trouble getting Justice League off of the ground so what hope does this have?

  • darthtigris

    Yes, that would be DC Entertainment’s best bet, to avoid superheroes. 

    Why do I come here …

  • Drew_Melbourne

     I think you’ll find that the profile of the property doesn’t have much to do with the likelihood that the movie gets made. Consider that the first Marvel movie was Howard the Duck and the first Marvel movie series that was a big hit was Blade.

  • Wilyjeff

    Constantine.  Jonah Hex.  Watchmen.  The Losers.  V for Vendetta.  Warner Bros. has already been mining it’s non-traditional superhero DC properties for years.  This article is about 8 years too  late.

  • demoncat_4

    plus the fact  del torro is also leading the way by introducing magic in the comic book movie universe. something marvel has yet to do besides with thor. aka get doctor strange poping up on screen. but mostly del torro dipping into the dc waters is giving warners another key to find the way to prove when it comes to dc in other media they are just just marvel light.

  • LightningBug

    DC/Warners shouldn’t concede superheroes to Marvel. Marvel is doing an amazing job, but it isn’t like DC hasn’t had a Superhero blockbuster. They just didn’t do it with an eye toward a common universe. Branching out with movies like Dark Universe is great, but DC has plenty of classic superhero assets in its corner, and this article seems to write them off.

  • matt

    yeah technically the first marvel film was 1944’s captain america and I wouldn’t call Blade a hit, it was R rated. X-men was the real film that essentially saved Marvel comics from bankruptcy 

  • Sonofspam

    Dc has tried to make it work with non superhero movies like Hex and Constatine.