This post is entirely speculation, though it is based upon logic as well as current news.
Notice that in the title of this article I sad “could” as opposed to “would” because the last I heard was that Del Toro was busy working on Legendary Pictures’ upcoming fright-feature “Crimson Peak,” as well as executive producing the FX series based upon the trilogy he wrote with Chuck Hogan, “The Strain,” “The Fall” and “The Night Eternal.”
But I have been reading the tea leaves and checking the entrails regularly, and here’s what I have seen:
1. Despite Rumors To The Contrary, Guillermo Del Toro Will Not Be Doing “Justice League Dark” Anytime Soon
Why? Because NBC is working on “Constantine,” a series not based on the Francis Lawrence movie of the same name, but the DC (formerly under their Vertigo imprint) series, also of the same name. While it’s possible that the character could appear in both places at the same time (this is, of course assuming that the television series has a long life), it’s probably not going to happen. The character of John Constantine is the lynchpin that the team revolves around, and without him the concept is pretty much dead in the water, besides being somewhat esoteric.
And that’s even considering how much Warner Bros would have to invest from the budget end of things, which would probably be huge (though they could do it with a partner, as long as it’s not Legendary Pictures, since they and Warner Bros. somewhat acrimoniously parted ways. That being said, they still work with Village Roadshow Pictures).
2. DC/Warner Bros. Doesn’t Seem To Have Much Of A Plan Toward Developing Their Characters
Whether or not someone likes what Marvel is doing with their characters, you have to admit that they not only have a plan, but they are executing it really, really well. This is primarily because the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, has apparently developed a plan to develop their characters, and is following it. Marvel’s roadmap is divided into Phases: Phase One consisted of “Iron Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Iron Man 2,” ” Captain America: The First Avenger,” and “Thor” and culminated in “The Avengers.”
Notice the pattern: First there’s an introduction of the characters–which may or may not have more than one film in the future–and a film that brings them all together.
Phase Two consists of “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “The Guardians Of The Galaxy,” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Phase Three will consist of “Ant-Man,” “Captain America 3,” “Thor 3” and “The Avengers 3.”
As I said, you don’t necessarily have to like what Marvel is doing, but what you can’t deny is that there is a plan at work.
Warner Bros/DC? Not so much. What seems to be driving them is profit above all, which I understand, but that’s not a plan. Though it didn’t exactly start that way because for awhile it appeared that DC was building toward a Justice League feature–and probably still are–which began with “Green Lantern.”
Oh, but wait! Green Lantern? Don’t I mean Batman? No, I don’t because Christopher Nolan’s Batman films aren’t necessarily part of DC’s greater cinematic plans because Nolan quite deliberately kept them separate from the rest of the DC Universe, which was probably not a great decision in retrospect.
Though that’s why “Green Lantern” was so important: It was the beginning of DC/Warner Bros. establishing a larger canvas on which to display their properties. If Green Lantern had worked they could have brought Ryan Reynolds back as the character in other DC films, such as the Justice League, or even the upcoming “Batman Vs. Superman” feature.
But it was not to be because Green Lantern was unable to recharge either his lantern or the box office, where it earned almost $220 million on a $200 million dollar budget; not enough to make a profit.
So DC rebooted Superman, in “Man of Steel,” without a doubt the most violent Superman film ever made.
Which could perhaps explain why that film made “only” $668 million dollars. It’s a lot of money, but for a character as iconic and as firmly established in the public consciousness as Superman, it actually wasn’t that great a performance.
For the sequel, “Superman Vs. Batman,” DC will not only feature Superman and Batman, but Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor as the villain. It seems apparent that they are trying to follow a strategy similar to Marvel, except more compressed.
3. Nobody Does Weird Like Guillermo Del Toro
“Mimic,” “Chronos,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “The Devil’s Backbone,” “Hellboy,” “Blade II,” “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army,” “Pacific Rim.” It goes without saying that Del Toro understands the weird, unusual and strange, though he also understands character-driven films and nuance. This is a very important skill because any depiction of Doctor Strange must balance the fantastical with the very human, which not many directors can do successfully. One director that can, other than Del Toro is Don Coscarelli, as he very capable demonstrated in “Bubba Ho-Tep” and “John Dies At The End,” though I already did a writeup on why I believed that he could handle the project.
4. A Director That Can Put ‘The Money On The Screen’ Is A Must
This is a crucial point. Many directors make films that cost a bundle, but you actually see the movie, you wonder where all the money went because wherever it was, it wasn’t on screen. Also, Marvel Studios aren’t known for being spendthrifts when it comes to financing. Every film that Guillermo Del Toro has made, you can see the money on the screen. And some, like “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” which cost $85 million, looks like it cost significantly more. Some directors, like Michael Bay or James Cameron, are celebrities in and of themselves, though that’s not the case with Del Toro, who apparently puts the work before his own celebrity.
5. And Most Importantly, Guillermo Del Toro Deserves A Monster Hit
It’s really odd that Guillermo Del Toro, despite being one of the most innovative and interesting directors working today, has never had a monster, pardon the pun, hit. I mean literally none, despite most being financially successful.
Doctor Strange would be coming from Marvel Studios, which has an envied record of success. And coincidentally, one of the films that was most successful for Del Toro was “Blade II.” which earned over $155 million on a production budget of $54 million dollars.
And as anyone can tell you, Blade is a Marvel character.