Casting Call: Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Dark Universe’


Guillermo del Toro is infamous for getting ahead of himself. It is pretty much because he gets so damned excited about upcoming projects, he spills the beans before the project is ready to even be greenlit. The newest project on his radar is a movie he is calling “Dark Universe” (originally rumored to be titled “Heaven Sent”). It is about the supernatural characters of the DC universe butting heads and working together…..and possibly not in that order.

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John Constantine – Marc Warren

John Constantine is a blonde and British, but the American movie going audience might not know that since he was originally played by Keanu Reeves (in one of my guiltiest pleasures, Constantine). He was first created by Alan Moore in the pages of Swamp Thing before making the jump to his own title, Hellblazer. Hellblazer will be ending with issue #300 after 25 years so that Constantine can be completely worked into DC canon. Constantine’s appearance was based on singer, Sting, but I think he looks a hell of a lot like Marc Warren, who happens to be both blonde and British. You might recognize him as the guy who beats the shit out of James MacAvoy in Wanted or as the brother-in-law to Elijah Wood in Green Street Hooligans. Or in one of the many too slick for his own good British asshole roles that Amercian movies and TV have cast him in. 

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Zatanna – Olivia Wilde

Zatanna is one of the few legacy characters to hold her own in a popular position. She was created almost 30 years after her father’s debut. She has since gone on to be the go to magic do-gooder when it comes to Justice League business or whenever a Justice League member needs some pointers against whatever magical threat they face, especially Batman, who has some romantic history with her. She is currently one of the few heroes to remain a constant member of the Justice League Dark along with Constantine. She is a stage magician by trade so sometimes her costume is old-fashioned, but lately she has been in a more modern look. Olivia Wilde has been a growing talent. I first caught her in the criminally short live The Black Donnellys. She has been doing consistent and varied individual efforts. It is only a matter of time before they try to offer her a franchise.

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Zatara – Franco Nero

Giovanni “John” Zatara is an old-fashioned stage magician who is also a very powerful sorcerer. He too his daughter under his wing and taught her his trademark style of spell casting (speaking the spell backwards). I do not really know much about this character. He is very old and has only made a few cameos in the comics over the last few years, one of which was him as a Black Lantern, which hardly counts. His most recent starring role was as a member of the Justice League in the Saturday morning cartoon show, Young Justice. He is voiced by Nolan North using an Italian accent. I don’t think he has one in the comics, but I really kind of dug it. Who better to play an aging hero getting ready to pass the torch than the original Django, Franco Nero, who is rumored to be getting another chance to play his version of Django.

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Deadman – Doug Jones

Deadman has been a long standing DC comics character. He is a trapeze artist named Boston Brand. His trademark was doing his act without a safety nest, thus the nickname Deadman. He was shot and killed during one of his acts so now he is stuck eternally in his circus costume. del Toro is familiar with Doug Jones. He played Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies as well as Faun and the Thin Man in Pan’s Labyrinth. Since being cast in del Toro’s flicks, I feel like I see him pop up in a ton of genre movies usually as a creepily thin person, but also as a very good-humored character. I think he is really comfortable on camera and comes off very charming. I think Deadman tends to be pretty deadpan and snarky, usually because he is invisible to the people around him.

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Phantom Stranger – Liam Neeson

Phantom Stranger has been implied to be many things. One origin story called him a fallen angel. One origin story implied he might be The Wandering Jew, a man who turned Jesus away from his doorstep when Jesus needed help carrying the cross and cursed to walk the Earth until Armageddon for that sin. The new 52 has been pretty explicit about who he is without actually saying it directly. He is Judas, the apostle who sold out Jesus to the Romans. He basically just comes and goes when ever magic get weird usually just to drop knowledge before leaving. He usually just watches, but he has his own title now, so he is probably going to be more active. Whether he is delivering exposition or an ass-kicking, Liam Neeson is always great. He also has that tall, thin, but old physical appearance that the Stranger tends to be drawn as.

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Swamp Thing – Ray Stevenson

Thanks to an early film career and an Alan Moore makeover, Swamp Thing has solidified himself as one of the most popular superheroes in the pop culture zeitgeist. His newest title in the new 52 has been one of the best comics currently published on the market, not just at DC. He is a weird character. He is a big artist, but he has a scientist mind. He is eloquent, and big monster actors tend not to be eloquent. If he wasn’t so old, Ron Perlman would probably get my vote, especially since del Toro probably already has a role for Perlman anyway. In that case, Ray Stevenson would be good. He is a tall and broad shouldered dude, but he can also sound very intelligent and eloquent on screen.

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Etrigan the Demon – Graham McTavish

Etrigan is a relative of Merlin. Merlin brought him to Earth so that Etrigan can help him and the Arthur’s roundtable fight off Morgana La Fey’s forces. To keep hi under control, he created a human prison for Etrigan named Jason Blood. Etrigan is in the exact same boat as Swamp Thing. He is a big vicious demon knight, but he is also very eloquent and has even talked in rhyme scheme for awhile. I decided to go with the mostly unknown Graham McTavish. He looks pretty different without the dwarf make-up, but he is the Hobbit’s Dwalin. He also voiced Loki in a few Marvel animated projects so he can definitely speak eloquently, or at least like an asshole with an ambiguous European accent. The Scottish actor can definitely also get Etrigan’s bloodlust based on what I have seen from him in Rambo, as the more aggressive member of the team of mercenaries helping Rambo.