Director Explains Why Justice League Dark Is Rated R

When Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment revealed that Batman: The Killing Joke — an animated adaptation of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's 1988 graphic novel — would be R-rated, which is rare for an animated film, some assumed its mature classification would hamper its box office. However, since its July release, the film has already quadrupled its production budget.

Proving that there is an appetite for R-rated animated films, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment was more than willing to allow Justice League Dark to go down that same path. Director Jay Oliva addressed its R-rating while providing a breakdown of the film's recently-released trailer.

"If I knew that I could get away with a rated R, I would have made it a hard R," Oliva told Empire. "When we make these films, our goal is always a PG-13, so there's certain things that we know we can get away with and things that we can't; we can't do beheadings and we can't do arterial blood spray or anything like that. I'm just trying to tell the best story that I can, and from there we edit some things out, or we try to hide things. Instead of showing a beheading, we'll cut to the shadow on the wall as you see the beheading in the shadow, but you don't actually see it. The Killing Joke was kind of a godsend in the sense of, because of its success and because Home Video took a chance of releasing it as an R, it paved the way for this to be an R."

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When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession -- but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new “league” with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth’s supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege -- before it’s too late for all of mankind.

Actor Matt Ryan, who set the standard for the role of Constantine on the Warner Bros. live-action television series, returns to the role in animated form alongside Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Batman, Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) as Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro (NYPD Blue) as Deadman, Ray Chase (Final Fantasy XV videogame) as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross (24, Arrow) as John Stewart/Swamp Thing, Jeremy Davies (Justified) as Ritchie Simpson, Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Sin City) as Wonder Woman, Jerry O’Connell (Stand By Me, Crossing Jordan) as Superman, Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint, Veronica Mars) as Felix Faust, and Alfred Molina (The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man 2) as Destiny.

Justice League Dark is directed by Jay Oliva (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). The story is by J.M. DeMatteis and Ernie Altbacker (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) and teleplay by Ernie Altbacker, with Sam Register as Executive Producer. Benjamin Melniker & Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight trilogy) are co-executive producers. James Tucker (Batman Bad Blood, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders) is Supervising Producer.

Justice League Dark will be available to own on Digital HD starting January 24, 2017 and will be released on Blu-ray Deluxe Giftset, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on February 7, 2017.