With the announcement of J. J. Abrams’ deal with HBO Max to develop three new shows: Overlook, a spin-off of The Shining; Duster and a live-action Justice League Dark, the crew of PCU immediately started fancasting who we thought should be in the cast for JLD. One of DC’s more obscure comics, it’s also one of its consistently best written, character driven books. While the book has had many iterations from the New 52 version, to animation to the current roster, certain characters are always mainstays so first let’s do a quick brief of the main crew, the guest roster and then our choices for casting!
The Main Justice League Dark Team
The GOAT, the character that started it all. John Constantine is a legend for a reason. Sarcastic, brutal, extremely intelligent and borderline insane Constantine still has one of the biggest hearts in all of comics, despite all that’s happened to him and all he’s done to others, and is lowkey one of the most powerful characters in the entirety of the DC Universe. His ability to out think, out magic and out maneuver humans, demons, fae and everything in between is what makes him the undisputed leader of the crew.
The Queen. Zatanna is the master of magic, the one character everyone who watched Batman: The Animated Series or read the comics wanted to be when they grew up. Funny, unbelievably kind, yet not one to be trifled with, Zatanna will just as soon teach you magic as kick your arse for being a berk. The yin to Constantine’s yang she’s his equal in every way and keeps John and the team as a whole from falling down the rabbit hole. That’s not to say Zatanna doesn’t have a dark side, she does, and trust us, you don’t want to meet it.
Boston Brand is a circus trapeze artist who performs as a character named Deadman, wearing a gaudy red costume and white greasepaint to give himself an ethereal look, and it is just an act until he’s killed and has to go about avenging his death. However, it is after his character’s reboot/rebirth in the New 52 that Deadman becomes a part of Justice League: Dark, and his character gets an upgrade to go along with it. Now he spends his life like the DC Comics version of Dr. Sam Beckett, jumping from living person to living person and fixing their mistakes to atone for his own sins when he was alive. While I like the original biography better the JL:D version allows the right actor to have a lot of fun and with some minor tweaking (allowing him to choose who he possesses) could be an effective weapon in infiltration ops. Deadman is every man because he could be any man (or woman).
The Powerhouse, Alec is one of the kindest, most peaceful characters in all of comics, but also one of the deadliest. His ability to control all plant life seems like it wouldn’t be a big deal until you remember exactly how much plants actually do for us, up to and including providing oxygen. One of the few characters to beat the ever loving shite out of Batman, multiple times, Alec is not to be trifled with. Combine that with his scientific background, his planet first, family second, humanity a distant third mindset and his close friendship with Constantine, who taught Alec everything he knows about how to manipulate folks, Alec is the secret weapon of the team.
Our Favorite Guest Team-Mates
You know who she is. The Woman of Wonders. The Princess of Themyscira. Diana truly needs no introduction and her guest run on the current run of JLD shows just what thousands of years of knowledge can bring to the team. Able to get into places the others can’t due to being, you know, Wonder Woman, she brings diplomacy, access and the ability to hand out ass whoopings to the crew.
“Change! Change, O form of man!
Release the might from fleshy mire!
Boil the blood in heart of fire!
Gone! Gone! — the form of man —
Rise, the Demon Etrigan!!”
Jason Blood, a former knight of the round table, betrayed Arthur and for his penance he was bound to the demon Etrigan, Prince of Hell and all around lunatic. Jason, himself a swordsman and magician of the highest caliber, is a member of the Justice League in his own right due to his fighting skills and magical capabilities. However, when he unleashes Etrigan he levels up to someone capable of beating Lobo to a pulp. The fact that these two have very distinct and different personalities and don’t always agree on what is worth being involved makes them one of the more problematic, but always fun, members to deal with.
A lesser known DC character (Neil Gaiman had to explain to DC who she was) Black Orchid is a master of disguise, has super strength and is immune to bullets. She also comes from a utterly horrific background but instead of using that as an excuse to cause harm she makes it her reason to help others. Well…until humanity continues to be the worst. However, when she’s on our side, she’s all in and having someone on the team who can be anyone is extremely useful.
Owner of the Oblivion Bar, a detective whose skills rival those of Batman and a member of Mensa, Bobo is an immortal, alcoholic chimpanzee who’s friends with all of the above characters. He’s been through some shite and is a bit of a cynic as his abilities as both a talking animal and a detective have shown him the worst of humanity but if you need someone to figure out whodunnit there’s no one better.
Whooo boy. Okay. Doctor Fate has had more origin stories than almost any other character in comics history but the basics are the same: someone ends up wielding the Helmet of Nabu and the Amulet of Anubis. Those people usually have low level psychic, magic or telekinetic abilities and those get turned up to eleven when their natural gifts combine with the artifacts. Pre-dating Doctor Strange by literally decades Doctor Fate is often compared to him but they are very much not the same. For one, anyone can be Doctor Fate, it’s a title not a name, which is why anyone of any gender or species can be Doctor Fate and have been. A reality warper whose power is only limited by the wielder’s imagination Doctor Fate is apathetic to humanity because they are the keepers of cosmic balance and anyone, good or evil, who upsets that balance is their enemy. More powerful than the entire team combined Doctor Fate is the one character you always want to stay on the good side of.
Zatanna Zatara: Anya Chalotra
Zatanna is a great character. Plain & simple. She’s got that spark of joy that keeps a glimmer of light in this team, and she does so with that wonderfully theatrical flair. As the perfect foil to Constantine’s gruff pessimism, Zatanna definitely keeps the Justice League Dark from going…well, too dark. Her kindness belies a badass nature, and to my mind there is no better young actress out there to portray that personality than Anya Chalotra. To be honest, I hadn’t really known much about Miss Chalotra until Netflix’s The Witcher came along. Still, she’s made it clear that she has the ability to portray an understatedly badass character, and Zatanna Zatara is definitely the type of role in which I would love to see her.
Doctor Fate/Kent Nelson: Jensen Ackles
Following the news of Supernatural coming to an end, many of us were left wondering what would become of the show’s stars. Well, I propose that Jensen Ackles take on the role of the enigmatic Dr. Fate. Not only does Jensen look remarkably like the character of Kent Nelson, but I also feel like he’s got the chops to breathe a sort of “bad boy with a heart of gold” into the character of Nelson/Fate (think “Demon Dean”, but with a conscience). I’ll also admit to wanting this to happen so that I can see Jensen Ackles talking to the Helmet of Nabu & potentially hearing Demon Dean’s voice talking back.
Doctor Fate/Khalid Nassour: Mena Massoud
We can’t really talk about Kent Nelson without bringing his Dr. Fate successor into the conversation. The young Khalid Nassour, Kent’s nephew, was once unsure that he could take on the responsibility of the Helmet of Nabu, but has become a formidable & powerful sorcerer in his own right. He was given a second chance at taking on the mantle of Doctor Fate, and really brought something special to the character himself. While Nassour is no longer under the helmet, he still assists the JLD on their missions.
To that notion, I feel like Mena Massoud deserves a shot at taking on such an important role. Sure, his most well-known role was Alladin in the (much maligned) live-action remake of the animated film of the same name. Still, I feel like Massoud could definitely bring a youthful exuberance to the team.
John Constantine: Matt Ryan
Oh, Constantine. How I love your gruff, no-nonsense smart-assery. I mean, the guy clearly wants to do the right thing. He just goes about it by conning, lying, and leaving bodies in his wake. Not to mention wielding some damn impressive sorcery. Constantine is clearly the personification of the ends justifying the means.
C’mon… You had to see this one coming. Matt Ryan IS John Constantine. There’s a reason that he not only played the character in the short-lived NBC series and reprised the role in the CW’s Arrowverse crossover event, but he’s also the voice of Constantine in the Justice League Dark animated movie. Whether you loved or hated the series on NBC, you have to admit that Ryan did an incredible job as our favorite Hellblazer. To my mind, it would be a serious disservice to the series if we didn’t get to see Matt Ryan don that trenchcoat again.
Wonder Woman: Gina Carano
A Wonder Woman contender of mine for almost a decade, Gina Carano looks like she walked out of a superhero comic and to me is the perfect fit for a different, but familiar, Diana. Like with Batman, Spider-Man, Storm or any number of iconic superheroes who are generations old, writers and artists have brought a mix of styles, personalities and characteristics that can’t ever be captured by one performance. Gal Gadot’s Diana is an instant classic, but in many ways also a safe blend of the character’s most accessible traits – a lunchbox Wonder Woman. When I see Carano, I imagine the Wonder Woman from animated series and films – the one who has no need for any coy secret identity – ripping open tanks and throwing semi-trucks, beating up gods, new and old. Occasionally we see her in a dress, but she is still unmistakably a superhero, broad shouldered and imposing, stern, but never grim. Bringing Carano, a legitimate fighter with the record and scars to prove it, means putting a believable bruiser into the cast, and one who, with all the duality of Princess Diana, is also effortlessly feminine. Plus, having seen her turn as Cara Dune in The Mandalorian, or more accurately, attending press events for the show, it’s been fantastic to watch Carano joyfully and proudly flying her geek flag. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t kick ass in the role.
Deadman: John Glover.
No stranger to the DCU, John Glover is the right build and has the right kind of pathos to bring Deadman to life (for lack of a better term)
Detective Chimp: John Kassir.
Most know him as the voice of the Crypt Keeper but Kassir is an incredibly gifted voice talent who would make Detective Chimp a breakout character on the show.
Swamp Thing: Charles “Roc” Dutton.
No matter which incarnation of Swamp Thing we’re talking about he is a character who has been through a lot and somehow has become more empathetic as a result. Charles Dutton is that in real life. As Dutton says about himself, he went from “jail to Yale”. Dutton would break your heart as Swamp Thing, and that is what the character needs.
John Constantine – Matt Ryan
As Doug said, Matt Ryan is John Constantine. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s that simple.
Zatanna Zatara – Morena Baccarin
To match Ryan’s intensity you need someone who’s just as amazing and who can hold her own as the co-lead of the series. Baccarin is that woman. As much as I like Anya Chalotra, anyone who can hold their own and then some against Ryan Reynolds, Ben McKenzie and Damian Lewis is my Zatanna. Pair that with her ethnicity it would give us another badass woman of color leading lady in the DCEU, one of the areas where DC continues to lead over Marvel.
Jason Blood – John Boyega
Here I’m going to zig a bit. Originally I was thinking Chiwetel Ejiofor but then I considered just how young Jason actually was when he’s cursed by Merlin and I thought, ‘who would be able to pull of being a 1000+ year old man stuck in the body of a twenty year old’ and Boyega is who came to mind. Despite how much I loathed his aborted arcs in The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker Boyega has consistently given us in his acting what should have been onscreen and we saw the very different, mature, man who was the rock that the Resistance was standing on, and the heir to Leia Organa, through Boyega’s acting. He would be perfect as the world weary Jason Blood and could pull off the hyper violent Etrigan through motion capture.
Deadman and Swamp Thing: John Glover and Charles Dutton –
Well now that Ron’s put the idea in my head I can’t let go of it and I’m here for it!
Wonder Woman: Gina Carano
Gina was always my Wonder Woman and while I came around to Gal, because she was awesome, I have to agree with Pete, Gina is the perfect Wonder Woman for JLD.
Black Orchid: Devery Jacobs
Devery Jacobs’ turn on American Gods is what brought her to my attention and her mix of sarcasm and sweetness, plus her glorious beauty, makes me want her for our shapeshifting plant person. She also has the depth to play such a conflicted character and an affinity for hand-to-hand that would be necessary to pull off Black Orchid.
Detective Chimp: Ahmed Best
People tend to forget that long before Andy Serkis there was Ahmed Best, whose work as Jar Jar Binks, whether you hate him or hate him, changed the motion capture game. Best would be perfect as the cynical and functional alcoholic Detective Chimp and having him play a character who was actually the smartest person in any given room would be the redemption arc this actor deserves.
Doctor Fate – Inza Nelson – Yasmine Sabri
The wife of Kent Nelson, aunt of Khalid and second Doctor Fate, Inza Nelson is critical to both Kent and Khalid’s journeys and a badass Doctor Fate in her own right. Building off of Doug’s picks for Kent and Khalid, Yasmin Sabri is perfect as the headstrong Inza and would be able to play off of Jensen Ackles wonderfully. She would also serve as the perfect leeway between Kent and Khalid both emotionally and physically.
These are our choices, what are yours? Let us know in the comments!