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Western Animation / Justice League Dark

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"Are you talking about magic? Then we have to find John Constantine."

When innocent civilians commit mysterious crimes, the Justice League investigates and soon discovers the source is mystical in nature. As it is out of their purview, the League is forced to turn to a team of mysticsJohn Constantine, Zatanna Zatara, Deadman, Black Orchid, Jason Blood, and Swamp Thing — to help deal with the crisis at hand. Joined by Batman, they must find out what's going on and try to stop it.

Justice League Dark is a 2017 animated film and part of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line. This movie is based on the Justice League Dark series from the New 52 and set in the DC Animated Movie Universe. Befitting this, Jason O'Mara again reprises his role from those movies as Batman. Other voice actors include Matt Ryan reprising his Constantine role as its title character John Constantine, Camilla Luddington (Tomb Raider (2013)) as Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro (NYPD Blue) as Deadman, and Ray Chase (Final Fantasy XV) as Jason Blood and his other half Etrigan, Roger Cross (24) as Swamp Thing and John Stewart, Colleen O'Shaughnessey (The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes) as Black Orchid, Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint) as Felix Faust, and Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) as Destiny.

Despite early reports of being a Sequel Series to Constantine, Constantine: City of Demons is ultimately a Spin-Off of this film.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parent:
    • The man who almost shot his family and killed his neighbors had a miserable childhood with an abusive dad.
    • Considering John's bitter, scornful reaction to seeing the man's memories of his abusive father, it seems likely that this version of John shares his comic-counterpart's past of parental abuse.
  • Action Girl: Zatanna is easily the strongest sorcerer of the team. Felix Faust manages to hold off the entire group without trouble, but when Zatanna regains her ability to speak he is soundly curbstomped.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Although he's still scruffy and unkempt, John Constantine is much more handsome than he usually is in the comics.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: In the original comics, John "Doctor Destiny" Dee was a petty criminal with a knack for inventing who used a gem he created (later retconned to be a magic ruby stolen from Dream of the Endless by his parents) that gave him the power to manipulate people's dreams. Here, he was an Evil Sorcerer from Arthurian times who forged the stone out of alchemy as a Soul Jar, manipulating John's associate Ritchie in order to resume his reign of terror.
  • Adaptational Badass: Constantine has a serious upgrade in his magical abilities for this movie, having more in common with Doctor Strange than the regular Constantine, whose abilities mostly revolve around rituals and mind manipulation, with very few combat spells.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Constantine is still the same Good Is Not Nice Manipulative Bastard that he is in the comics, but here he is much more openly caring about others and actively keeps others away if they can't help, whereas the comic version gladly surrounds himself with useful allies for his scheming. This version also lacks the Stalker with a Crush trait with Zatanna that was mutually destructive for them both.
    • Jason Blood was a noble knight who was mortally wounded fighting Destiny instead of being either a traitor or a simple scribe, depending on the continuity.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Zatanna wears tights in this version, when her legs are normally clad in fishnets, if not completely bare. Her top however leaves little to the imagination.
  • Adaptation Name Change: More like title change. Destiny doesn't have the prefix of "Doctor" in this incarnation; while he is a sorcerer, however, it was hinted at by Jason that Destiny had a scientific background before moving to magic to carry out his deeds.
  • Ambiguous Situation: The Shrouds, beings which take souls to Hell, mention that Batman has avoided them many times. This implies he either came close to crossing the line which would doom him to Hell, or worse means that he's avoided death and he's already doomed to Hell. Or they could simply be referring to how Batman tends to go out of his way to actually save the criminals he deals with, thus robbing the Shrouds of the wicked and sinful souls they're so eager to collect.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The incarnation of Black Orchid present in this film is the spirit of the House of Mystery given physical form.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Batman is skeptical of magic being the cause of the random acts of violence, despite a literal demon having invaded the Earth in the last film in this continuity. He's aware that Shazam, Arthur's trident and Wonder Woman's lasso are all magical, too.
  • Batman Gambit: Not Batman, oddly enough.
    • Ritchie suckers John into bringing him into the House of Mystery knowing that he would order Orchid "to help him any and every way [she's] able."
    • A later one is during the final fight. Constantine tricks Destiny, who is inside an impenetrable magic shield bubble immune to magic or spiritual attack. Grabbing him, Destiny draws him inside. Turns out, Constantine had allowed Deadman to enter him to get the ghost inside, giving Boston an opening to possess Destiny and leave him vulnerable to attack.
  • Big Bad: Destiny, an Emotion Eater wizard from Arthurian times with a god complex, the master of the Dreamstone, and personal foe of Jason Blood.
  • BFS: After regaining her powers from Felix Faust's Spell, Zatanna immediately materializes a Titanic-sized Sword (seriously, the only reason it could float in place is because the room it is in is that spacious) that looks disturbingly similar to the Dragon Slayer.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Destiny is defeated and the world is saved, but at the cost of Jason's life and Swamp Thing's only chance at becoming human again. Also, many people died, and some lost loved ones or had their lives ruined.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Swamp Thing is concerned with the Green, and only the Green. He frankly wouldn't care if all of humanity died and thinks the recent events are justice for the destruction of the Green, but he has a soft spot for Zatanna since she has a garden.
  • Call-Back: Batman manages to slip John Stewart's Green Lantern ring off his finger without him noticing, the same way he did to Hal in War.
  • The Cameo: Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, and Green Lantern (John Stewart) make a cameo in the beginning when discussing the crimes being committed around the world. Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkman don't even have lines. During the climax, only Superman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart return briefly.
  • Car Fu: One woman under the effects of the Dreamstone's spell runs over numerous passers-by with her car before being stopped by Wonder Woman.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Back in Justice League: War, Batman swiped Hal Jordan's ring without him noticing as a gag. In order to take down John Stewart, who's been driven mad by the Hate Plague, Batman lures him into fisticuffs then pulls the same trick before tasing him unconscious.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Constantine's magic is yellow, Zatanna's is light blue, Faust's is purple and Destiny's is red.
  • Continuity Nod: While trying to dissuade Batman's Arbitrary Skepticism Wonder Woman mentions Shazam and Trigon.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Felix Faust created a spell in his home so that no women could speak when inside specifically to nullify Zatanna's magic.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Etrigan vs the Demons Three (both times) and Destiny's first incarnation; Faust against Etrigan; Zatanna vs Faust once she gets her voice back.
  • Curse Cut Short: When Etrigan is summoned at the end:
    Etrigan: So Constantine calls once more.
    Just like a greedy, wanton—
    Constantine: Save the bloody rhymes and stop that git!
    Etrigan: Killjoy.
  • Darker and Edgier: This film has been rated "R", so this trope will be in play in regards to the New 52 based movies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Constantine to a T. Jason gets in a few, too.
  • Deal with the Devil: Before the events of the movie, Ritchie Simpson discovered a piece of the Dreamstone. Through this piece, the evil wizard Destiny promised to permanently restore Ritchie's health and magical powers if he completes the Dreamstone. Desperate for a chance to forever escape Hell, Ritchie took the deal. However, when Ritchie completes the Dreamstone, he only has a moment to revel in his newfound power before Destiny takes over his body. When Destiny is exorcized, Ritchie regains his body but is dragged to Hell immediately afterwards. By this point, he has truly lost everything, including friends who could have saved him.
  • Death by Adaptation: Jason Blood dies when Destiny removes Etrigan from his body which lifts the curse, but because Jason was dying of a stab wound at the time when Merlin put Etrigan in his body, his wound catches up to him.
  • Dragged Off to Hell: Ritchie is on the receiving end after Destiny is exorcized from him and he dies.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap:
    • Felix Faust renders Zatanna useless by casting a spell that prevents her from speaking. In the climax, she's both heavily weakened from previous magic use and preoccupied with holding off the Justice League.
    • Constantine and Zatanna are preoccupied in a possessed man's mind when the filth monster attacks the hospital, leaving it down to Batman and Deadman to hold it off. They barely slow it down long enough for the magicians to return and instantly vaporize the thing.
  • Driven to Suicide: A woman throws her newborn daughter from the roof of a cathedral, then promptly kills herself. Batman saves the baby, but isn't fast enough to stop the mother from leaping to her death.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The sorcerer behind the nightmares summons a living tornado and a monster made of feces to attack the protagonists.
  • Emotion Eater: Destiny uses the Dreamstone to force people into waking nightmares, and feeds off the negative emotions to increase his power, allowing for a wider range of people to fall under his spell, rinse and repeat.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Etrigan genuinely liked Jason.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: The reason Zatanna prefers to stay on the light and fluffy side of magic. Even Constantine, who earlier mocked her for it, is more than a bit frightened by her Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Destiny and Felix Faust both count.
  • Eye Scream: One of the recurring demon illusions have horns growing out of their eyesockets.
  • Fantastic Racism: Felix Faust considers it unworthy for a sorcerer of his level to fight a demon like Etrigan, so he summons the three demons to do it for him.
  • Frameup: Ritchie frames Felix Faust for causing people to think they see demons so he can access the Dreamstone in Constantine's home while the others are dealing with Felix.
  • Grand Theft Me: Constantine commits this on Jason Blood when the two of them are being attacked by demons out for Constantine's blood, in order to make Blood call out Etrigan to even the odds.
  • Hate Plague: When under the spell, people start imaging everyone else as demons and try to kill them. Even Superman, Wonder Woman, and John Stewart aren't immune.
  • Idiot Ball: Destiny had no reason whatsoever to bring John inside of his shield.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Etrigan impales the leader of the three demons. The other two get their heads chopped off.
    • In his backstory, Jason Blood gets a sword through the chest, courtesy of Destiny.
    • In the present, Jason returns the favor by stabbing Destiny through the chest with Etrigan's sword, separating him from the Dreamstone which was fused to his chest and leaving him for John to finish off.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: In Gotham, the demonic hallucinations manifest when a woman sees her newborn daughter as hellish spawn and tries to drop her from the hospital roof. Batman manages to save the baby, but the mother is not so lucky.
  • Instant Runes: Everywhere, as they're used to show when magic is being used.
  • Invisible to Normals: As a human with no magical aptitude, Batman is unable to see Deadman until Constantine gets tired of relaying messages and casts a spell to allow Batman to see him.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Constantine does this to everyone, both in and out of fights.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Constantine refuses to involve the Justice League with whatever is behind the current crisis, believing that they'll be useless against supernatural forces. He's proven right during the final battle where the League become liabilities despite prior experience with the dark arts on their ends.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Constantine bets the sentient House of Mystery in a card game with the three demons. Both are cheating, so neither side wins the bet once they realize this.
  • Mean Boss: Constantine is a dick to Orchid. She also implies she doesn't like him very much, either.
  • Merlin and Nimue: It's implied that Constantine had taught Zatanna some level of control over her magic and the two of them dated for a time, only for their conflicting personalities to clash, resulting in a rather sour breakup.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Zatanna serves as one to Constantine, being the only one that can bring out his slightly nicer and more moral side.
    • Constantine, in turn, manages to be this for Zatanna, as when Zatanna is out of control Constantine is the one who brings her out of it.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Zatanna and Black Orchid are both very sexy women, the latter despite being bald and purple.
  • Muggle Best Friend: Batman essentially serves as the sole nonmagic-using member of the "Dark" team.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Since Batman can't do magic, he relies on his gadgets and brain to help and it's done well.
    • When Ritchie is about to die, Deadman tries to fight off the Shrouds to stop them from taking Ritchie's soul, but Batman uses an intracardiac injection to revive him.
      Constantine: I see you have a few tricks of your own, eh?
      Batman: Not everything requires magic.
    • When dealing with Felix, when Batman is about to use his Grappling-Hook Pistol on him, Constantine tells him, "Not everything can be solved with your peashooter." When Felix traps Constantine in a cube of water, Batman uses his grapnel gun to pull away Felix's spell book from him to disable the cube and swing Constantine to safety.
      Constantine: I take it back. That thing is useful.
    • A simple exploding batarang turns the Dreamstone into a bunch of pretty shards, making sure Destiny is never coming back.
  • Mythology Gag: Richie constantly refers to Constantine as "Rock Star John". Comics Constantine did have a career in music in his younger years.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Thanks to Constantine ordering the House of Mystery to do everything in her power to help Ritchie, she's powerless to stop him once he reveals his true colors.
    • When the Justice League arrives to help stop Destiny, they immediately fall under Destiny's spell and try to kill Batman.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Sometime before the film, Constantine and Ritchie had some sort of adventure referred to as the "Newcastle Incident".
    • Apparently — at the prompting of Zatanna no less — she and Constantine once made an unsuccessful attempt to save monkeys trapped in a cage in Sumatra. Constantine still somewhat holds it against her, which annoys Zatanna greatly.
    • Wonder Woman mentions that the League has had encounters with mystical forces before, naming Circe and Felix Faust.
  • No-Sell: The Dreamstone can show visions of horrifying things to whoever it's used on. Constantine is a man who plays poker with demons. Trying to scare him is an exercise in futility.
  • Not Me This Time: Although he's an evil, sexist asshole, Felix Faust is the victim of a frame-up this time.
  • Oh, Crap!: The look on Constantine's face when Zatanna unleashes her Superpowered Evil Side. Ditto on a lesser scale later when she uses a defense spell to protect the group when Destiny blows up the House of Mystery, resulting in her passing out from overuse of magic.
  • Offing the Offspring: A mother under the effects of the Hate Plague attempts this on her infant daughter. Luckily, Batman stops her.
  • Off with His Head!: Two of the three demons get their heads chopped off. They find this rather annoying and vow revenge as they're dragged back to Hell.
  • Old Flame: Implied between Constantine and Zatanna. Less subtle after Black Orchid outright states that Zatanna, though angry at Constantine, still has feelings for him.
    Deadman: They used to be a thing.
  • One-Steve Limit: Downplayed. The film has both John Constantine and John Stewart, but the latter's name isn't mentioned. The same could apply to Destiny himself, but it's averted in the film. In the comics, Doctor Destiny's alter ego is John Dee; we aren't told what name he had before turning to villainy in this movie.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: Constantine to Destiny.
    Constantine: Is that a sword in your chest or are you just glad to see me?
  • Our Mages Are Different: Much like in the comics, the director Jay Oliva explained that there are different types of magic and mages in the film: evil magic is purple/red while good magic is white, while characters like Zatanna and Merlin are characters born with magic while Constantine simply has an affinity to magic which means while he can cast spells, he often requires a magical item to do anything more.
  • Paranormal Gambling Advantage: Abnegazar uses magic during his poker match against Constantine to turn his own hand into a straight flush. After both players bet their most valuable possessions, Constantine smirks and uses his own powers to turn Abnegazar's hand into junk, winning the match.
  • Pater Familicide: Superman barely stops a father from shooting his wife and children under the effects of the spell.
  • Playing with Fire: Constantine uses fire in most of his spells.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Felix Faust makes many sexist complaints (and spells) against Zatanna, though this may be because he knows that she is the most powerful sorceress on the team.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Jason Blood: Merlin sends his regards. Oh, and by the way: you lose.
  • The Problem with Fighting Death:
    • The Shrouds will wait as long as it takes to drag a damned soul to Hell, and there's really nothing one can do to avoid that fate; they can only postpone it. In his desperation to avoid it, Ritchie tried to reform the Dreamstone to gain immortality, but ultimately fell victim to possession by Destiny and was left to the Shrouds as soon as Destiny lost.
    • The Shrouds mention that Batman has apparently eluded them many times, something they consider "vexing".
  • Remember the New Guy?: Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter, and Hawkman are already in the Justice League despite them not being properly introduced. John at least is given the handwave he's filling in for Hal Jordan, explaining why he's there and Hal isn't.
  • Reused Character Design: Merlin looks identical to the Wizard Shazam from Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.
  • R-Rated Opening: The movie opens with a woman going on a nightmare induced road rage and running over everyone in her sight, a man about to shoot his family dead after he had just killed his neighbors, and a woman throwing a baby off a high building before falling over the edge herself. Yep, this movie definitely earned its R rating.
  • Science Wizard: This is actually reversed with Destiny, who started out as a man of science before being corrupted by his study of dark alchemical magic.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Constantine and Zatanna have a lot of Belligerent Sexual Tension, and it is implied their past partnerships weren't entirely platonic. At the end of the film, it is implied that they may resume said past relationship.
    • Orchid and Boston share a moment during their first meeting, when the former notes that they are Birds of a Feather as spirits with no one true place on the corporeal plane, and at the end of the film, she gives him a Meaningful Look, which he takes as an invitation to stay at the House of Mystery.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In his first onscreen appearance, Etrigan summons his sword in the same manner as Voltron forming the Blazing Sword, complete with pose.
    • There's a shit monster.
    • As said above, the Titanic-sized Sword that Zatanna materializes looks suspiciously like the Dragon Slayer.
    • Ritchie gets dragged to Hell by dark creatures, like in Ghost.
  • Skepticism Failure: Batman knows magic exists, but he doesn't believe that the attacks are magically motivated since in his experience, the criminally insane don't need an excuse. Then he gets possessed by Deadman and scrawls Constantine's name all over the walls.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Despite nominally being an ensemble film, Constantine is the main character with all the other members being supporting roles.
  • Soul Jar: Destiny forged the Dreamstone using part of his soul. It is through this that he is able to return in the present.
  • Suggestive Collision: Constantine comes barreling into the House of Mystery and collides with Zatanna; ending with John lying on top of Zee on the floor. John seems perfectly happy with the situation, but Zee is miffed and says she'll be fine as soon as he gets off of her.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Batman's reaction to seeing the Destiny-controlled Wonder Woman coming at him.
    Batman: Oh perfect.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Superman discovers that the man who was about to kill his own family had more victims hidden in his shed he stays calm but his tone make it clear that he is furious.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Downplayed with regards to Destiny when comparing his modern incarnation with his past self from Arthurian times. His stone and abilities are no different from the past, but there were way less people around in those days and they were more sparsely spread out across the land. The reason he's so much stronger in modern times is that there are a lot more people around to terrorize and feed off nightmares from. Since the amount of potential fuel sources are much greater, Destiny's powers have grown to reflect that.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Zatanna is easily the strongest sorcerer on the team, able to restrain Superman (albeit only for a short time) and overpower Felix Faust. However, unlike the others, who have a handle on their magic, Zatanna ends up losing herself to the magic if she ever goes all out. It's suggested she has the capacity to control it, but doesn't like how the power feels and deliberately chooses not to test her limits. This is best shown by how she was unable to make Deadman visible to Batman unike Constantine.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Batman's basic reaction to seeing all the magic going around him is "Hmmm".
  • Unwitting Pawn: Ritchie was suckered by a fragment of Destiny's soul into obtaining the Dreamstone so that Destiny could use Ritchie as a host and return to the physical realm.
  • Weak to Magic: The main premise of Justice League Dark is that an unknown force is taking control of people causing them to murder indiscriminately under the belief that the people they are murdering are actually demons. The Justice League attempts to intervene after parents start murdering their children, but most members, such as Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern are shown to be vulnerable to magic. The threat to the world is too great if one of these powerhouses were to become magically brainwashed, so Batman assembles a special team better equipped to handle it, which includes John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Black Orchid, Jason Blood, and Swamp Thing.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Despite having nothing to do with the group in the comics (except for one short trip to Heaven), Batman is present.
  • World of Snark: The main team consists of Batman, Constantine, and people who don't particularly care for Constantine.


Video Example(s):


Swamp Thing

A plant mass that was born from the memories of Alec Holland. Initially believing himself to be Alec Holland, he eventually learned his real nature.

How well does it match the trope?

4.4 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / SwampMonster

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