When it was first established in 1993, the DC Comics imprint Vertigo was created to showcase more adult-oriented titles featuring violence, sexuality and other themes that could not be presented as overtly in the family-friendly DC books. Now Deadline is reporting that a similar differentiation is going on within the DC movieverse as well, with all Vertigo titles now falling under the auspices of New Line Cinema.
This means that superhero stories associated with DC proper (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, Justice league, etc) will remain at Warner Bros. while New Line’s chief executive Toby Emmerich and production president Richard Brener will oversee Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” series. This will hopefully give Gordon-Levitt the freedom to make a Sandman movie in keeping with the more mature subject matter the classic comics series dealt with and not cohere to a formula superhero pattern, similar to how the Marvel Knights label was formed for R-rated fare like Punisher: War Zone.
“Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing sh-t up,” Gordon-Levitt stated earlier this month. “[Sandman] has nothing to do with that and it was actually one of the things that Neil Gaiman said to me, he said ‘Don’t have him punch anybody.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does. It’s going to be like a grand spectacular action film, but that relies on none of those same old ordinary cliches. So, that’s why it’s taking a lot time to write, but it’s going to be really good.”
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter has thrown a bit more confusion into the water by saying the long-in-development Dwayne Johnson-led Shazam! will remain at New Line, despite being in the same four-quadrant wheelhouse as DC’s other superhero fare. They also suggest that the team-up movie Dark Universe, featuring Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Deadman and Zatanna, will remain at Warners/DC, a move in keeping with the comics where all those characters, despite their time under the Vertigo banner, are now part of the DC imprint again. Word also comes that Guillermo del Toro, who turned in his script for the film late last year, is no longer involved with the project.
Past films to feature the Vertigo label include The Wachowskis’ hit Alan Moore adaptation V For Vendetta and Sylvain White’s box office bomb The Losers, based on a series by Andy Diggle and Jock. In the television realm, NBC’s cancelled “Constantine” and The CW’s “iZombie” also hail from Vertigo, with “Lucifer” scheduled for later this year on FOX, while “Preacher” has shot a pilot for AMC.