Come hell or high water, Warner Bros. is committed to getting a Justice League movie off the ground, and now new rumors are surfacing that they may be looking past Justice League for a more supernatural follow-up. Latino Review has been pretty good about scoops in the past, and an anonymous tipster reveals that the studio and director Guillermo del Toro are in talks for a superhero project called Heaven Sent.
The film would see DC’s supernatural stable of characters -- Swamp Thing, John Constantine, the Demon, Zatanna, the Spectre and Deadman -- in one epic story, working together against some world-threatening mystic evil. It’s certainly in del Toro’s wheelhouse, but is it actually going to happen? Del Toro has a tendency to fill his plate too full, attaching himself to projects that never take flight. However, there are a few things that lend this rumor some credence.
DC’s recent New 52 publishing push, in which its entire superhero line was relaunched with a clean slate, was indicative of a shifting attitude toward the comics themselves within the corporate structure. While the creatives weave their stories as they always have, the comic books are seen by the execs in power as a research and development tool of the company. Their concern has shifted from comics as a viable product unto themselves, into a broader view that the books pitch concepts that could potentially be spun off into lucrative film, television and merchandise deals.
Part of the New 52 relaunch included Justice League Dark, a team book that just happens to star Constantine, Zatanna and occasionally Deadman, and it sounds an awful lot like Heaven Sent. In fact, if Heaven Sent goes forward, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a name change to match DC’s existing Justice League Dark brand. It’s already an established name, and, more importantly, it provides Warner with an interim quasi-sequel to Justice League (and Constantine, if they wanted to keep Keanu Reeves) before they get around to Justice League 2. It keeps the name out there and solidifies the universe, lessons learned from Marvel Studios’ success.
The rumor also mentions that “Warner’s lawyers have been working every night trying to clear the rights to all these characters.” At first we were taken aback -- doesn’t Warner Bros. own all of these DC Comics characters? They do, but the film rights can be tricky. We know, for example, that the producing team of Benjamin Melniker and Michael Uslan hold a stake in Swamp Thing’s film future, while the Spectre might spell trouble from the Jerry Siegel estate (who Warner has been fighting on and off for Superman rights over the past decade). It’s more of a matter of Warner Bros. making sure all of the legal i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed than actually attaining rights to the characters they already own.
It’s so easy to get excited for this project, but temper yourself. Del Toro may drop out. Warner may get cold feet on a big supernatural superhero film like this. Heck, it might not even be true at all. If it is, you can guarantee we’ll be there on opening day.