Casting JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK (aka ‘DARK UNIVERSE’) – Constantine, Zatanna, and Deadman

Justice League Dark is coming to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe)!… Though it may be titled Dark Universe, in order to avoid confusion among the uninitiated, who may mistakenly think the team is literally a “dark/evil” version of the Justice League. In reality, JLD is group of magically inclined individuals (NOT Superheros, if you listen to John Constantine) who have to come together to save the world from villains who also deal with magic and the occult… like Enchantress (who you already saw in Suicide Squad). These are the sorts of villains that are literally out of Superman’s league. Originally developed by  Guillermo del Toro, who was the ideal director for this magical mix of Dr. Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy (forget Suicide Squad), and the horror genre, Doug Liman is now at the helm (Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity), after jumping the ship on Fox’s X-Men spinoff, Gambit.Justice League Dark Volume 1 CoverSimilar to the Avengers and Task Force X (aka the “Suicide Squad”), Justice League Dark has a rotating cast of characters, unlike Justice League which really hasn’t changed much in 20 years. That being said, we’re told to expect the following characters in Dark Universe: fan favorites John Constantine (aka the Hellblazer) & Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman, and Etrigan the Demon. Other members in the comic have included Katana (played by Karen Fukuhara in Suicide Squad), Frankenstein’s Monster (really!), Vampire Andrew Bennett (from the comic, ‘I, Vampire’), Madame Xanadu, Black Orchid, and Shade the Changing Man, among several others.

Here we’ll focus on dream casting for the “confirmed” (assumed?) five Justice League Dark members: Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Deadman, and Etrigan the Demon. I’ll tell you a bit about each character and suggest who the perfect actor is to play the role!


John Constantine – Matt RyanMatt Ryan John Constantine Justice League Dark UniverseJohn Constantine is a charming, blond, Irishman, a mage, warlock, and self proclaimed “Master of the Dark Arts.” He’s also a womanizer (though he is bi-sexual), a scoundrel, a cheat, a drunk, a chain-smoker, and really not much of a leader… though he is the unofficial face of Justice League Dark.

Constantine’s childhood origin has been retold many times, but always results in some sort of grisly, demon related death of his parents. Part of a band in his early 20’s, Constantine began to research magic and the occult with his band-mates and friends, quickly becoming adept at all sorts of sorcery and exorcisms before he knew the cost. Constantine is scarred after accidentally damning a close friend’s girl, Astra, to hell during a botched exorcism. He lives on borrowed time, himself being damned to Hell as a result of the Astra incident, trying to make good in an attempt to save his soul. He fights demons and other more nefarious mages, defeating them often at the cost of the lives or souls of those he loves.John Constantine New 52 Like any good”Superhero Team” (again, don’t use the “S” word in front of Constantine), expect these characters to butt heads; none of them are exactly team players. That being said, Constantine would be the 1st to stab any of his teammates in the back, or play them without laying out his plan, or strike out on his own all together.When the chips fall though, John will sacrifice himself to save those he loves, if he hasn’t lost them already.

The thing is, we already have the definitive John Constantine, Matt Ryan, who played the Hellblazer in the 2014/2015 NBC show, Constantine. Though not a movie star you can sell a movie on (Marvel keeps proving you don’t need movie stars to sell a great concept like this), I once ranked Matt Ryan’s casting as the most accurate to the comic of all the superhero movies and TV shows.  He’s bloody perfect! He’s got the charm, he’s a bit of an oddball, and he really commits the the absurdity of casting a spell in Latin… and he looks exactly like the character. Ryan has returned to play Constantine in an episode of Arrow, as well as the upcoming Warner Bros. Animation Original Movie, Justice League Dark (yes, an animated version of the comic is also on the horizon). He was del Toro’s 1st choice for the role when del Toro was still planning to direct and there is a lot of pressure from Constantine fans online, for good reason.

Runner-Up: Colin FarrellColin Ferrell as John Constantine Justice League Dark I only include one because WB, who has relied more on established stars than Marvel, may balk at the idea of casting Ryan as their lead. Colin Ferrell has been mentioned many times, and he’s a solid second choice; another charming Irishman with a dark side. We’ve just go to bleach his hair!



Zatanna – Mary Elizabeth WinsteadMary Elizabeth Winstead as Zatanna Justice League DarkZatanna is a powerful magician, both of the performing variety and kind you don’t want to mess with in a magic fight. Unlike Constantine, her powers are genetic; her father was a world famous magician and his disappearance/death ties into her origin. In the comics she was once a member of the actual Justice League, though this is very unlikely to be explored in the DCEU. Zatanna’s also has a romantic history with Constantine, which is likely to be included in the film. He’s burned her (not literally), bad, as he does with everyone in his life. Whenever John betrays the team or goes off on his own, it is Zatanna who picks up the slack. You could make the argument she is the leader of the Justice League Dark, more-so than Constantine.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane, Live Free or Die Hard) really fits the bill as Zatanna. Resembling your comic counterpart isn’t a requirement these days, but it doesn’t hurt. Winstead is a rising star, already appearing in another underrated comic adaptation, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. She could play a strong, confident heroine who can hold her own against Constantine and whatever evil lurks in Dark Universe. Zatanna is also the optimist, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems like the perfect combo of all these things.


Deadman/ Boston Brand – Armie HammerDeadman Boston Brand Armie HammerBoston Brand, like Dick Grayson, the original Robin, was a trapeze artist, but unlike Dick, he’s dead. Get it? “Deadman!”  He’s a ghost who can possess both friend and foe, either to control them or simply root through their brain to get the information he needs.  Only those skilled in magic, like the members of Justice League Dark and his foes, can even see him. Deadman does whatever a ghost can; walk through walls, go fully invisible, and even fly. Being a former acrobat, he’s pretty handy in a fight, whether it’s against a supernatural spirit or even a goon on the street… if he’s possessing said goon’s friend.

Though all the members of Justice League Dark have a… well… dark side, Boston is the quickest to crack a smile, and not a sadistic grin like Constantine. Casting Deadman is tricky, because you could go any direction. If you went old, he basically looks like Bruce Willis, and I also considered someone with more of a background in comedy, like Donald Glover.Deadman Justice League DarkIn the end I’m going with Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Lone Ranger, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.). Hammer wowed audiences with his portrayal of the Mark Zuckerberg’s nemeses, the Winklevoss twins, but his blockbusters just haven’t clicked with audiences. I personally love The Lone Ranger and think Hammer deserves yet another shot. He can do serious and still be a little silly. Maybe a team movie where he doesn’t have to carry all the weight is what’s best for him at this point (he was cast in George Miller’s Justice League film before the Writers’ Strike killed it). Besides, who’s going to argue about a ghost with a perfect jawline?


This article is getting long in the tooth, but I still have perhaps the two most interesting characters yet to cast,  Swamp Thing and  Etrigan the Demon, which will both require some sort of CG or extreme make-up to pull off. Who knows, maybe next time I’ll throw in a bonus character or two, like Black Orchid or Frankenstein.

The 5 Most Accurate Comic Book Character Castings In Film and TV

Everyone’s a Super Hero these days… or at least a character based on a comic iteration, be they a powerless vigilante or a supporting character. Playing just “3 Degrees of Marvel” is easier than “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”

There are many memorable superhero performances that have redefined comic book characters. Who can imagine anyone but Hugh Jackman playing Logan / Wolverine? Is it possible to think of the Joker without conquering images of Heath Ledger? Even now that we’ve seen Chris Cooper as Norman Osborne in the failure that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, who could forget Willam Dafoe from 2002’s original Spider-Man film?Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Sure, great performances all, but not exactly accurate depictions of the character. Wolverine is about four feet tall in the comic; Tom Cruise would actually be a more accurate portrayal of the character (not that he would be ideal either).

What I’ve collected, is a list of the most accurate casting choices of comic book characters, not the “best” or most “memorable.” Not the biggest characters or Super Heros, necessarily, but the best characters minor otherwise. These are the castings that can’t keep a Geek from smiling because he couldn’t imagine a better interpretation himself when first reading a comic. And after seeing it, this actor will always become the character’s voice when reading decades of comics to come.

5) Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron ManRobert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man

Most people use RDJ as Tony Stark as the industry standard of comic book casting… and they ain’t wrong! I just managed to find 4 other castings that are even more accurate.

It turns out that Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark… both on screen and doing interviews. He has all the charm and brilliance that defines Tony Stark, bringing the darker edge of the character into play in Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which writer/director Joss Whedon labels Stark as the villain in the film’s commentary.

RDJ pulls off both sides of Stark, the hero who regrets his own and companies’ past as “War Mongers” and the man so tortured by his experience bringing a Nuke through a wormhole to outer-space that he creates the greatest villain the Avengers have ever faced, and will further be driven to oppose teammate Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: Civil War.

Donwey Jr. is both the perfect physical rendition of Stark as well as a man who share’s Stark’s darker, “less sober” past.

4) Mark Hamill as The Jokermark hamill as joker and batman from batman the animated series

No silver screen actor can touch Mark Hamill’s interpretation of Batman’s nemesis, The Joker, started in Batman: The Animated Series and lifted to nirvana in the Video Game, Batman: Arkham Knight (as well as the franchises earlier chapters, Arkham Asylum & Arkham City).

Hamill’s joker just has more… fun. Hamill has worked an almost endless versions of the laugh, also bringing the Joker’s voice in and out; letting the madness seep from his performance.

Though Animated, Hamill’s Joker is also the most accurate; a man with a giant grin, but none of those scars the film version of the Joker mysteriously decided to use. With the exception of 1989’s Batman and 2008’s The Dark Knight, The Joker has never had scars (Thankfully it looks as though Jared Leto’s Joker will repair this remedy… though  his appearance calls to question how accurate his performance will be).

Hamill offers the most fun interpretation of the unstable Joker, with an animated face that can’t be topped by any of the feature presentations of Batman’s greatest nemesis.

3) JK Simmons as J. Jonah JamesonJK Simmons as J Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man

There comes a casting every now and then, that is so legendary that not even a reboot of  a franchise can top the original. In the case of The Amazing Spider-Man films, the creative talent realized that J. Jonah Jameson was so well cast by J.J. Simmons, that they didn’t even attempt to offer a new take on the character.

J.K. Simmons timing is so perfect, his look so accurate, that it is impossible to read a Spider-Man comic today without hearing the actor’s voice. He’s Spider-Man’s perfect hater, an actor I would still recommend Marvel Studios use for their 2nd “reboot” of Marvel’s Webslinger.

2) Donal Logue as Harvey BullockHarvey Bullock On Gotham

Fox’s Gotham is really the 1st time I’ve seen Jim Gordon’s partner and eventual right-hand-man portrayed by a live-action actor. Even Christopher Nolan, who used the Dark Knight Trilogy to reintroduce us to lost Detective Comics characters like Lucious Fox, failed to produce Harvey Bolluck, an essential character in the comic realm.

Benjamin McKenzie was a hard sell as Jim Gordon, as his most famous role was from female teen show The O.C., but he’s worked out fine. On the other hand, Donal Logue, best known from an equally “shitty” comedy Grounded For Life, lives and breaths Harvey Bolluck into existence in a way that makes the comic impossible to read without hearing Logue’s voice.

A drunk with a conscience and extreme loyalty to his partner, Logue is incredible as Batman essential Harvey Bolluck.

1) Matt Ryan as John ConstantineMatt Ryan as John Constantine

Finally, we arrive at the best of the best; Matt Ryan as DC Comic’s (formally Vertigo’s) John Constantine! Forget Keanu Reeves who was terribly cast in the big-screen version of DC’s best “master of the dark arts!” Matt Ryan plays the character with the coy cockiness and James Bond-esque womanizer that perfectly reflect the comic counterpart, right down to his appearance.

This is the prime example of an actor breathing life into a formally written & drawn character with no real voice. I know can’t read Justice League Dark or John Constantine: Hellbazler without hearing… and even picturing Matt Ryan. I’d never enjoyed the aforementioned film… or comic until I saw Matt Ryan play Constantine. And since them, he has become one of my most favorite comic characters of all!

There you have it, the 5 most ACCURATE Comic Book Castings… of all time! It may not be the main characters you expected, but these supporting and less known-“Heroes” could not be better represented on the screen!

Podcast #13: FANT2STIC

Nick and Andrew discuss the trailer for the ‘Fantastic Four’ or… ‘FANT4STIC’ as Fox is calling it. Talk shifts to Disney’s plans for the ‘Indiana Jones’ franchise, whether or not they include Chris Pratt.  And how can they not visit topics relating to other superhero films like ‘Justice League Dark’ and the future of Matt Ryan as John Constantine?

New podcast every Friday @ 1pm!

5 Things You’re Missing By Not Watching ‘Constantine’

‘Constantine’ is my favorite network show of the fall 2014 TV season.

I’m not a big network TV fan. I’ve loved and lost: ‘Arrested Development.’ I’ve grown tired of aging shows: ‘The Simpsons.’ Many others just lived their TV shelf life: ’24,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Parks & Rec,’ and ‘Community.’

But this season, I’m up to my all-time high with ‘Blacklist,’ ‘Gotham,’ ‘Brooklyn 99,’ and, of course, ‘Constantine.’Constantine Flame On!

The most miraculous feat of all (aside from the apparent “miracles” that can come up on the show)? The fact that I like any network TV show more than one about Batman (sorry, ‘Gotham.’)!

Here’s 5 things you are missing out on by skipping ‘Constantine.’

1. The Opening Credit Sequence Makes Your Skin Crawl

Is the opening credit sequence of a show really that important?

G.O.B.s favorite bar, "And Jeremy Piven"
G.O.B.s favorite bar, “And Jeremy Piven”

If you ask the late, not-so-great, ‘Entourage,’ then yes, the opening credit roll is a big deal. Often mocked among friends, the “Ya! Oh, yeah!” stroll down the Sunset strip, walking past the great L.A. bar “With Jeremy Piven” is horribly long.

And annoying.

‘Constantine’ has a perfect length, incredibly unique opening credit sequence.

There’s not even actor or creator credits given, just the image of souls burning in hell.

Watch it now! Then we move on!

2. Matt Ryan is incredibly likable as John Constantine.

Matt Ryan as Jon Constantine
Matt Ryan as John Constantine

Here’s your first clue that there’s a big difference between NBC’s ‘Constantine’ and the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves; Matt Ryan’s John Constantine is charming and funny in a way Keanu will never understand.

Ryan brings humor and sarcasm in large doses, playing the self proclaimed “Master of the Dark Arts.” (Constantine gets shit almost every episode for having that last title on his business card.)


And yet, John is also a man haunted.

Astra, accidentally damned to Hell by a young John Constantine.
Astra, accidentally damned to Hell by a young John Constantine.

Haunted by what happened to Astra, the daughter of a friend whom Constantine accidentally damned to hell during a failed exorcism. That’s some dark shit to deal with.

Similar to the sins of his past, Constantine makes some very ambiguous moral choices that could lump him in shared company with ‘Breaking Bad’s Walter White. In one episode he literally has to trap a demon in the body of a friend; inviting the demon in and then trapping him in the body by carving demon locking symbols into his friend’s face with a special blessed blade.

A Demon Mocks Constantine By Taking His Form In The 'Pilot.'
A Demon mocks Constantine by taking his form in the ‘Pilot.’

Constantine has his demons, both literally and figuratively. Yet, the show never gets silly when he recites incantations and draws demonic symbols. The show carries just the right tone for it all to work.

Spells and Incantations from the "Master of the Dark Arts."
Spells and Incantations from the “Master of the Dark Arts.”

And Constantine has quite a bit of evil to combat as there is a “rising darkness” that is pushing more monsters to the surface and resulting in stronger than average demons.

Withfirst-trailer-for-constantine-tv-show-watch-now-162616-a-1399875059-470-75 all the good, the bad, and his torment/mission, as a man, I still want to be John Constantine. Rock that white shirt and that loose-ass tie… TV’s John Constantine is one cool anti-hero.


3. It’s a horror show at heart.

Constantine in PilotI have a knack for missing when something is in the horror genre, unless it’s a shitty torture-porn film like ‘Saw’ or ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ I didn’t realize the new ‘Fright Night’ (2011) was horror until my friends pointed it out; I thought it was a dark comedy.

Constantine has his own batch on incantations to fight the "rising evil."


I had the same inclination with ‘Constantine,’ enjoying the darkness and comedy of the show, completely missing that it is, indeed, a horror show. Not only that, it’s a damn good one, with gruesome bloody scenes and scary demons that rival cable’s ‘The Walking Dead.’

We’re talking possessed children, fallen Angels, and a vinyl holding the voice of “the fallen” (the devil, of course).

One of 'Constantine's many literal demons.
One of ‘Constantine’s many literal demons.

2. It has its own, unique format unlike anything on network TV.

I like to call ‘Constantine’ my favorite cable show on Network TV since ‘Arrested Development.’

Let’s face it, most the good shows on television live on cable networks willing to take risks like AMC, FX, and HBO. Most of what we see on Network TV (by which I mean CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW) is very formulaic, with nearly all dramas following the criminal or medical procedural format. Even a show like ‘Gotham’ (which I also adore) boils down to a police procedural that happens to have quirky DC characters. ‘The Blacklist’ is brilliant, but it also doesn’t escape the classic format of a Network TV Drama.

Constantine and Zed hunt demons.
Constantine and Zed hunt demons.

‘Constantine’ marches by the beat of its own drum. It does have a formula; establish demon/evil entity, Constantine tracks it with the aide of Zed (Angelica Celaya) and/or Chas Chandler (Charles Halford), if it’s a demon he may chase it from body to body, finally vanquishing it in the final act, depending what “it” is.

That is where the show flaunts its format: the “Rising Darkness.” The evil in the show takes many forms, from the aforementioned demons, to possessed inanimate objects, and even Angels that work for “the fallen.”

No two episodes are alike and non mirror what you would see on a Network Procedural.

1. It has great side characters and is rich with DC universe lore.

Constantine Cast
Manny the Angel, John Constantine, Zed Martin, and Chas Chandler

John Constantine’s tortured soul is only the tip of NBC’s iceberg.

My favorite character – aside from Constantine who I obviously have a man-crush on – is Manny the Angel (Harold Perrineau). Manny appears to Constantine, not to help, as he can never give information or physically help in any way that will alter the lives of mortals like John.

Manny the Angel
Manny the Angel
Manny mocks Constantine by appearing to him as a bartender.
Manny mocks Constantine by appearing to him as a bartender.

While Manny appears to visit Constantine for moral support, really he spends most of his time gloating and mocking Constantine. The back and forth between these characters is my favorite part of the show. Whenever Manny shows up, I crack a smile.

Zed and Chas are also great characters, both with their separate supernatural gifts and their relationships with the “master of the dark arts.”

John Constantine Comic AdThese characters are from the comics (not Manny, he was added to turn the comic’s inner-monologues into dialog between two characters) as are many of the demons and items we see throughout the show. I wish I read the New 52’s ‘Constantine’ (formally ‘Hellblazer’) as there are A LOT of DC ‘Easter Eggs’ to uncover.

All-in-all, it boils down to my earlier statement. To quote myself:


‘Constantine’ is my favorite cable show on Network TV since ‘Arrested Development.’

Boom. I just self-quoted.

There you have it, 5 reasons to check out ‘Constantine’ on Hulu and NBC. If you’re game for unique TV containing fascinating characters and scary demons – with a DC Comics flair – then join me and John on our mission against the “Rising Darkness.”

Just one more great image of the demon that mocks John in the ‘Pilot.’Demon as ConstantineAnd I’m out!