Doug Liman thinks he knows why Warner Bros. picked him to direct the Justice League Dark movie, a.k.a. Dark Universe: because there was no chance of him turning in a movie that looked like anyone else’s.
Speaking with Collider, Liman talked a little bit about Edge of Tomorrow 2 (still happening! It will “revolutionise how people make sequels. It really will.”) and a lot about how he wants to make the Justice League Dark movie.
Specifically, Liman gave a pretty long answer to the question, “Are you excited about working on Dark Universe?”
Yeah, I mean first of all, I love those characters, and I love Warner Bros., and I love [producer] Scott Rudin, and it’s — and you know, I get asked to come in and do things that are “unconventional.” If people want conventional, they don’t come to me. It’s why doing Invisible was like right up my alley — because how can you be conventional when there aren’t even conventions that exist? And so you know when Warner Bros. wants to sort of turn the comic book genre on its head, they call me.
Liman’s really, really confident that Warner Bros. is going to let him make the bizarre, trippy movie that a Justice League Dark movie needs to be. Basically, he’s arguing that he wouldn’t have been given the job unless that’s what the studio wanted. And, oh my god, do we hope he’s right about that. Of course, there was probably a point where David Ayer thought something similar about Suicide Squad. Prove you’ve actually changed, Warner Bros.
Liman added that he’s always pushed to be less conventional in his movies because of his reputation, after being asked if “turning the comic book genre on its head” was the goal of Dark Universe:
Yeah. It’s like how do you fundamentally reinvent what people are doing? And that’s the good and the bad news of this sort of box I’ve been put in. I mean, you’d think it was by design, but it wasn’t. It is exactly what I should be doing, but I’m just so grateful that — you know sometimes I’m working on a project and I pitch an idea that’s too conventional, and the producers will say back to me “That’s not Doug Liman enough.” Which is like a weird thing, because I’m like “Well that — it was my idea! How can you say it’s not me?” And they’re like “No, because when we think of you, we think of like, you know — that just seems too ordinary.”
So even if I wanted to be a little bit more conventional, like, the system doesn’t want me to be.
Liman said that he sometimes decides to make certain tropes off-limits for a movie—like refusing to make the third act of Bourne Identity about a woman being in danger—and that he has “some” rules like that for Dark Universe. But he didn’t specify which ones he’s avoiding.
Could it be the way the big showdown to these movies always involves massive death and property destruction? Or how about having as many villains as you can cram into a piece? The giant motivational speech? The team all hating each other but becoming a family through hardship? What “rules” could he be forbidding the movie from following?
And, more importantly, how far will Warner Bros. really let him go with that?