When something’s strange in the DC Hood, who you gonna call? Obviously Batman, but Justice League Dark introduces audiences to some other DC heroes that hair from the mythic/magic side of the Justice League.
The story kicks off with people experiencing massive hallucinations. They see demons. Driven to insanity, some go on killing sprees while others are willing to take their own lives to escape. This leads Batman to be contacted by a spectre who sends him to meet with John Constantine. With the help of Constantine, Batman assembles a team of experts in the supernatural …. as well as Swamp Thing.
What I enjoyed about this movie was the background given on characters I’d only seen in passing in other DC properties. You’re given a glimpse into Etrigan’s pain of always being used by humans never came up in previous shows or movies. Like Cyborg in the 2017 Justice League movie, I would’ve liked to see this more flushed out. Zatana hid her powers in plain sight by mixing cheap theatrics with real magic. Even Deadman (Boston Brand) gets a backstory reveal that gives you just enough to be interested in the character.
What bothered me about the origins is that it’s just enough. Not all of their origins play into the larger narrative. Sure Deadman was a trapeze artist who was killed then resurrected with a karmic debt, but his karmic debt has no roll in the larger plot at hand. This makes for poor character integration.
The only characters that had any real development were Zatana and Constantine. Their romantic past fuels inter-team conflict. Batman has to step in to be the adult in this room of childish magic users.
I haven’t mentioned Swamp Thing more than once so far. This is much like the movie. Swamp Thing seems to have something against Constantine. He appears earlier in the film, but then drops off the radar. It’s not until the final showdown that we get an ex machina appearance by Swamp Thing in which he delivers on one of the better battles in the entirety of the DC Animated properties. This is a far cry better than Batman and Harley Quinn (2017), where Swamp Thing appears for less than 2 minutes of screen time and has no real purpose.
Sadly, the maze of twists and turns were no surprise. I found myself wondering if the plot was actually going somewhere, or if this was a glorified episode of Scooby Doo where Old Man Jenkins would be unmasked as the villain. Point in fact, the person you think might be the villain actually is. There were no surprises or plot twists that were not painfully obvious in the beginning.
While a fan of the DC Animated Universe, I found this to be another disappointing film. What could’ve been a solid match-up of second and third tier characters, turned into a hot mess of uninspiring plot devices with one cool (but short lived) fight.