Fox’s Marvel film franchise has suffered a new setback. Gambit director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) has departed the project and has signed on to direct DC’s supernatural ensemble film Justice League Dark.
DC started publishing the supernatural team-up in November 2011 with Justice League Dark #1. The original lineup featured John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Shade, the Changing Man, and Zatanna, while others, such as Swamp Thing have joined the lineup at times. The comic gathered together some of the DCU’s supernatural characters, and in 2012, Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak, Pacific Rim) signed on to write and direct a film adaptation of the comic, only to depart in 2015.
Variety broke the story, referring to the film as Dark Universe as opposed to Justice League Dark, but Warner Bros. has yet to confirm the project or its title.
Liman’s departure from Gambit is another setback for the beleaguered Marvel adaptation. The film’s original director, Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) was attached to direct in June 2015, only to drop out a couple of months later in September. The film’s star, Channing Tatum, was also rumored to have been close to leaving that fall. Liman joined the film in November, with the intention on starting filming in the spring of 2016.
However, the film was delayed until this fall due to problems with the script. With the loss of a second director, it seems as though this film is even further away from reality. That said, Fox is still planning on moving forward with the film and is currently looking for a replacement director, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While Marvel has managed to create a wildly successful cinematic universe with films like Iron Man and team-ups such as The Avengers, Fox’s own collection of superheroes has been far more varied, with highs such as Deadpool and lows such as Fantastic Four. Liman is also attached to direct a sequel to 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow , which reportedly had a concept "locked and loaded", according to screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie.
Fox’s loss appears to be DC’s gain. While DC has struggled to match Marvel’s cinematic universe in terms of quality, it does appear to be focusing on team-up films such as Suicide Squad, Justice League, and now Justice League Dark. If DC decides to include Justice League Dark as part of its Expanded Universe as opposed to a standalone story (del Toro has made contradictory statements on this), it could help the franchise stand apart from Marvel’s juggernaut franchise.