- Directed by Jay Oliva
- January 24, 2017 (Digital) / February 7, 2017 (DVD and Blu-ray Release)
- Batman-Jason O’Mara
- Superman-Jerry O’Connell
- Wonder Woman-Rosario Dawson
- Green Lantern-Roger Cross
- John Constantine-Matt Ryan
- Zatanna Zatara-Camilla Luddington
- Boston Brand / Deadman-Nicholas Turturro
- Jason Blood, Etrigan the Demon-Ray Chase
- Swamp Thing-Roger Cross
- Black Orchid-Colleen Villard
- Abnegazar, Merlin-JB Blanc
- Rath-Jeffrey Vincent Parise
- Ghast-Fred Tatasciore
- Felix Faust-Enrico Colantoni
- Ritchie Simpson-Jeremy Davies
- Destiny-Alfred Molina
A rash of hallucinations indicates the return of something dark and powerful and now Batman must lead a group of heroes into against the supernatural side of the DC Universe.
In the comics Justice League Dark is a supernatural version of the Justice League team created by Peter Milligan and Mikel Janín. It takes that Justice League concept and populates it with the supernatural tilted members of the DC universe. The team here consists of John Constantine, Zatanna Zatara, Boston Brand/Deadman, Jason Blood and his demonic counterpart Etrigan, Swamp Thing, and Black Orchid (though she is never actually called that) in a team headed by Batman.
I am not sure why they included Batman here. Seriously. I have seen the comics at my retailer but have not picked them up so I do not know if Batman is a regular feature of the comics but here Batman does not contribute much of anything to the film’s story. I think his whole purpose was to get people to want to buy or Just watch this movie. “Oh look! Batman is in this! We needed to add this to our collection!”
The story would work just as well without Batman present. The minds behind the DC animated films need to trust in their properties a little more. You do not need to add in Justice League characters or just Batman to get some eyes on one of your animated films. They have a strong fanbase these days. The base will watch and others will follow.
The story of Justice League Dark plays a bit like a supernatural mystery. There are the initial incidents and now the team needs to solve the case. The first incident they show is not too disturbing. It is just a woman fleeing from/running over demons who turn out to really be people.
However the suburban father incident is a little bit more frightening. Not because he is going to kill his family but because he has apparently killed his neighbors. There is a brief shot inside of a shed in his yard. There is one individual underneath of a blanket, another hanging from the ceiling, and two or three wrapped up neatly in either fabric or a lot of plastic. That was just messed up.
John Constantine is a rather popular DC character and seems a lot of that popularity on the screen stems from his short-lived show as well as his appearances on Legends of Tomorrow. Constantine is the driving force of the story. And for somebody whom people in the story say they do not like he seems to have friends. People say they do not like him or trust him because he screwed over this person or that person or them yet he does not appear to live an isolated life from anybody. They seek him out for help and he begrudgingly obliges.
I think this might be the first time I have seen Deadman in animated form. I do not know too much about the character from the comics (I admit I am only now getting into DC after years of liking comics) but the concept has always interested me. Unfortunately Deadman does not get too much screen time to be developed and serves more as the mechanism to quickly end the story. I would have liked to have seen him get a little more screen time here. Heck, I would like to see him in his own standalone animated film. DC has plenty of supernatural or horror themed characters. October comes every 12 months, and I do not think it would be that terrible of an idea to use one of them in a film for Halloween.
I keep getting off track here…
There are a few twists and turns but nothing too surprising here. They toss out a minor red herring or two to keep you interested but it is nothing that genuinely tricks you. The real shocker is who was actually responsible for this. Not only that but how it connects to Etrigan the Demon.
An old friend of Constantine’s named Ritchie has been creating the hallucinations in order to get inside of Constantine’s House of Mystery so that he can get access to something called the Dreamstone and cure his supernatural cancer. He has had in his possession a piece of it that he has been using to keep his supernatural cancer in check. He believes it is sentient and been guiding his plans. Turns out though that it really is not sentient but rather is the sorcerer Destiny who was in a way responsible for bonding Etrigan and the Camelot knight Jason blood.
To me Justice League Dark was a little less action oriented than other Justice League animated films but had much more interesting visuals. The fight at the end was interesting but the need to shoehorn in the Justice League distracted from the from what should have been a focus on the supernatural characters. The appearances of Superman, etc. broke the stride of not only the story but what could have been a spectacular supernatural fight at the end.
The dialogue was witty with plenty of barbs between the characters. They were each rounded enough that you got a feeling for who they were. And truth be told what happened with Ritchie felt tragic even if he got what he deserved.
In the end Justice League Dark is another fine entry into the DC animated catalog. Its major flaw is that the people behind the story did not trust the characters enough to make it a go on their own and they had to toss in Batman for support. Even so it is worth a watch!