Gambit Bleeds as Justice League Dark Rises

By  · Published on August 26th, 2016

The superhero stories you keep hearing about crossed paths.

Check your pockets, Channing Tatum, because you just had something stolen from you. Doug Liman, who took over as director of the delayed X-Men spinoff Gambit last fall, has been pilfered by the DC Extended Universe for a very different sort of comic book movie: Dark Justice.

According to the report from Variety, that’s the true title of Justice League Dark, a team-up of supernatural superheroes including John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, and Zatanna. It, too, has had its share of shakeups, having been most notably set up as a project for Guillermo del Toro.

This appears to be very bad news for Gambit, which looks so dead now. If it is finally made one day, it’ll probably be by some low-level director and maybe without Tatum. Either way, the actor’s appearance at the end of the X-Men panel at Comic-Con 2015 (pictured above) should be a sad reminder not to prematurely promote things that don’t actually exist yet.

Channing Tatum May Be Overplaying His Hand By Starring in a ‘Gambit’ Movie

We still can’t even be sure Dark Justice will ever happen. There’s no indication that this take on the idea, which seems to be veering more action-oriented compared to the horror-tinged version del Toro would’ve made, is heading into production any time soon. It’s still just at the scripting stages.

Liman is one of those directors who has a lot of options in his queue, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this latest addition also falls off at some point. Maybe he’s just helping Warner Bros. out for the time being so he can make sure that Edge of Tomorrow sequel really happens (it never will either).

But DC fans shouldn’t be too upset if they don’t actually get a live-action Justice League Dark movie for a while, because there is an animated Justice League Dark movie coming out very soon. And that even features Batman. And isn’t part of a franchise that is ironically already plenty dark.

Justice League Dark is Alive with Some Interesting Casting Rumors

Not that it wouldn’t be great to see Liman at the helm of a DC movie right now, seeing as he’d be the most competent director for the franchise yet. Still, we should give this specific property some time for the general DCEU to lighten up. Let regular Justice League break from the literal shadows of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Plus Justice League Dark would look a lot like Suicide Squad to regular folk. Sure, its ensemble isn’t a bunch of “bad guys,” but they are a group of stranger characters battling otherworldly creatures unfit for the real Justice League. Just like the set up of this month’s disappointing DC release.

What might as well be announced at this point is a preliminary team-up between the Cajun mutant Remy LeBeau (Gambit) and fellow playing card trickster Zatanna to fight a reported monster called Swamp Thing seen living in the wetlands of Louisiana.

And then they all get together for what turns out to be a remake of The Towering Inferno, for film history fan service (it was the first studio co-production ever, also between WB and Fox). Liman can just direct that. He can loop in his super-powered hero from Jumper, too, since that sequel is unlikely to ever come about.

They Might As Well Start Mixing and Matching Movie Franchises

Considering Tatum’s other big franchise crossover between 21 Jump Street and Men In Black might never actually happen either, why not give him the first major superhero brand multi-studio co-production? Especially with no one at Marvel planning for the X-Men to appear in the MCU anytime soon.

Both the DC Extended Universe and the X-Men franchise have had trouble with consistency in their long game (and Deadpool’s success has further confused the latter’s overlords), but they’re certainly not rare in announcing and then stringing along projects that don’t seem to have a chance.

But these two specific entities being in the news together hints that they’re a special breed of fan-desired films that can just forever be fodder for those interested, without them ever actually being anything but ideas of movies. They never need to be made, and it’s probably best they aren’t, because they can remain anything we want them to be in our imaginations.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.