On Thursday, WarnerMedia announced it will produce a Justice League Dark television series exclusively for the upcoming Warner Bros. streaming service, HBO Max. The show will be produced by J.J. Abrams, through his company Bad Robot. The series does not yet have a title nor a release date.
The Justice League Dark series is actually the third in a partnership between WarnerMedia and J.J. Abrams. Two other shows Abrams will bring to HBO Max are a new crime drama titled Duster (a 1970s period piece about a getaway driver for a crime syndicate in the American southwest) and Overlook (a new series set in the universe of Stephen King's horror classic The Shining.) But for comic book fans, Justice League Dark is the biggest news of the day, even if there's not much to go on.
Introduced to the DC Comics universe in 2011 by Peter Milligan, the Justice League Dark are a superhero team made up of heroes from the occult corners of the DC Universe. In the first line-up, the team consisted of Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, Deadman, and Zatanna Zatara, all of whom were led by the chain-smoking street magician John Constantine. Later iterations of the team included characters like Swamp Thing and even Wonder Woman.
In 2017, DC produced an animated feature film of the series, titled Justice League Dark. The movie starred actor Matt Ryan reprising his television role of John Constantine (from the canceled 2014 NBC series). He later returned full-time for The CW series Legends of Tomorrow.
At the film's New York premiere, director Jay Oliva said that the DC animated movies are an opportunity to try out characters in a medium outside comic books before they're pushed into live-action TV and movies.
“The animation we do is a testing ground to see if the public likes it or not,” Oliva told Inverse.
Warner Bros. has had a Justice League Dark feature film in development for years. Directors like Guillermo del Toro, Doug Liman, Andy Muschietti, and music video director Joseph Kahn have all been attached to the project at some point.
When Inverse caught up with Liman in 2017, at the time still set to direct, he said that he felt he "cracked" the story and was excited to take on the job. “Studios don’t come to me to make conventional choices. Especially in the comic book arena, people are doing such interesting things,” Liman told Inverse. “The bar is so high for me to do something unexpected. But I feel like I’ve cracked it down to something I’m really excited about."
He left the project a few weeks later. Since then, a Justice League Dark feature film has languished in development, but now an entire series will stream exclusively on HBO Max. It may not be the Justice League some DC fans claim to want, but it's definitely not a bad Justice League to have.
There is no release date yet for J.J. Abrams' Justice League Dark series.