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HBO Max Has Great News For DC Comics Fans

Get excited, DC fans — HBO Max has got a gift for you.

J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot production company, which recently signed a massive overall development deal with the upcoming streamer's parent company WarnerMedia, is hitting the ground running with a trio of new series — one of them based on the DC comics property Justice League Dark.

Bad Robot, of course, has an illustrious television history. Among the notable series brought to the small screen by the production house in the last couple decades are such iconic serials as Alias, Lost, Fringe, Person of Interest, Westworld, and Castle Rock. Bad Robot has also put up a number of excellent feature films over that same period, beginning with the supremely underrated Paul Walker-starring thriller Joy Ride in 2001; other films fielded by Abrams and company include the rebooted Star Trek series, the last three Mission: Impossible flicks, the Cloverfield movies, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (in association with Lucasfilm).

Since inking its half-billion dollar deal with WarnerMedia in September 2019, the production house has kept fans on the edges of their seats in anticipation of what could possibly be the first projects to come to fruition, and now we know: in addition to Justice League Dark, Bad Robot has also gotten the green light for a '70s-set crime serial titled Duster, and a Stephen King-inspired anthology series by the name of Overlook (which, of course, centers on the infamous hotel from The Shining).

In a statement released to the press, HBO Max Chief Content Officer Kevin Reilly expressed his excitement. "What an amazing start to our association with the wildly imaginative Bad Robot team under J.J. and Katie [McGrath]," he said (via Decider). "What could be better than an original J.J. idea, and then Warner Bros. letting them loose on iconic I.P. from Stephen King and the DC Universe... to provide more must-have programming on HBO Max."

Justice League Dark has been in development for a long time

Fans of Justice League Dark, one of the weirder superhero teams to grace the pages of DC comics, know that the property has proved to be stubbornly difficult to adapt, and not for lack of trying. As long ago as 2012, a proposed feature film based on the property was being developed under the stewardship of Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, who spent years banging his head against it before eventually passing it off to Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman in 2016. Liman walked away from the project in August 2017, and there has basically been no movement on it since — although as recently as October 2019, the rumor mill was insisting that Warner Bros. hadn't given up on the feature.

Not long after Bad Robot struck its deal with the entertainment giant, that same mill began working overtime churning out rumors that one of its first assignments would be to rescue Justice League Dark, and what do you know — it turns out that sometimes, the rumors are true. With a revolving roster of bizarre characters — some well-known, others not so much, some that have even been featured in live-action offerings in the past — and a long comics history from which to mine stories, the production house certainly has no shortage of material to work with. We would go so far as to say that Justice League Dark will probably work better as a TV series than as a feature, and well, we just did.

How will Bad Robot approach Justice League Dark?

So far, there has been no announcement as to the tone J.J. and company will be going for with Justice League Dark, or what characters could potentially be involved. Working in the serial format, though, it's safe to say that potentially many more characters could get some time in the spotlight than if the property were getting the feature treatment.

Like we mentioned, a couple of the more prominent members of the squad have already gotten live-action renditions on screens both big and small: John Constantine (who was portrayed in a 2005 feature by Keanu Reeves, and in the CW's Arrowverse by Matt Ryan) and Swamp Thing (who got a pair of low-budget features in the '80s, plus a short-lived, lamented series in 2019 on DC Universe). 

Those two characters are practically guaranteed to be part of the proceedings. We'd also put good money on appearances by Deadman (a ghost who can possess the living), Zatanna (a stage magician who is an actual, powerful sorceress), Shade the Changing Man (who can bend and warp reality to his will), Andrew Bennett (a vampire who held down his own solo title, I... Vampire, for years), and Man-Bat (a traditional Batman antagonist who is more bat than man). 

There are bunches more to choose from, and it should also be mentioned that in some iterations, the team has been led by the likes of Batman and Wonder Woman. We wouldn't bet on either of those heavy hitters showing up — but if they do, we would bet our bottom dollar that they won't be the cinematic versions of the characters played by Robert Pattinson and Gal Gadot.

The other two announced HBO Max series sound pretty cool, too

A Justice League Dark series sure sounds brilliant, but the other two serials announced in the press release also have us pretty excited. Duster is a brand new, original property; set in the American Southwest in the '70s, it centers on a lowly getaway driver for a crime syndicate which is starting to achieve regional prominence (perhaps notoriety is a better word). According to the announcement, the life of this character will slowly but surely become "wildly, stupidly, dangerously awful," which sounds like a heck of a lot of fun. Abrams will co-write the series with LaToya Morgan, who has penned episodes of The Walking Dead and Shameless, among other shows.

Then, there is Overlook, which sports a concept guaranteed to have Stephen King fans doing cartwheels. The anthology is said to explore "the untold, terrifying stories of the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction," and it should be noted that Bad Robot and Warner Bros. television previously collaborated on Castle Rock, another King-inspired, anthology-type series which is pretty great. (Bad Robot also produced the acclaimed miniseries 11.22.63, based on King's novel of the same name, for Hulu.)

All in all, an exciting announcement, as HBO Max begins to make its case that it should be a central part of your streaming portfolio. While an exact release date has not yet been announced, the streamer is expected to debut in May 2020.