On the ultimate list of Misguided Comic Book Movies, 2005′s Constantine ranks fairly high (alongside Watchmen, From Hell and that one with Shaq as Steel). Starring a miscast Keanu Reeves and directed by Catching Fire helmer Francis Lawrence, the film transplanted DC’s Hellblazer - the cult-favorite story of a cynical, chain-smoking occult detective with a wide humanist streak – from London to L.A. and traded the comic’s Sting-lookalike main character for a leaden Neo with lung cancer (and Shia LeBeouf).
While the film is fun in the moment, the wild liberties taken with the source material made it almost universally reviled by fans of the comic book from the second it was released. The world of John Constantine – who first appeared as a supporting character in Swamp Thing – deserves another live-action adaptation, but Constantine’s reception muted all talk of that possibility… until now.
THR reports that NBC has made a script commitment for a new series based on the comic book, to be written by David S. Goyer, who wrote Man of Steel for Warner Bros. as well as co-writing the first two entries of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and is writing the movie currently known as Batman Vs. Superman.
The show is being co-written by Daniel Cerone (executive producer of The Mentalist) and marks the latest announcement that a comic book property will get the small-screen treatment, following the news that Fox will air the Commissioner Gordon origin show Gotham Central.
The news comes on the heels of the series premiere of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and with CW’s popular Arrow returning for a second season – as well as serving as a launching pad for a show centered around The Flash - we appear to be heading into a new age of comic book television shows, for better or worse.
While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted to strong ratings, the overall experience was underwhelming, with many glaring problems from the outset. Arrow has striven for something darker in tone, a description which is particularly apt when it comes to Hellblazer. There is no word on whether or not the show will be adapted from the comic book or will function in conjunction with Guillermo del Toro’s proposed Justice League Dark movie (which could also feature John Constantine), but the smart money is on the former.
The whole notion of this series adaptation might give a Hellblazer fan pause, were it not for David S. Goyer’s involvement. Goyer has had his fair share of criticism, most recently revolving around the ending of Man of Steel, but now that enough time has passed since The Dark Knight Rises, we can reflect on that trilogy and come to the tentative conclusion that the final entry was not as strong as the first two films at least partially due to the fact that Goyer did not write it.
The Playlist recently revealed that it was Goyer who had to inform Nolan on what was canon while prepping Batman Begins – he understood what fans needed to see, and what could safely be modified without destroying the mythology. With that in mind, it seems like Hellblazer could be in far better hands this time around. And while Constantine is a character who has frequently crossed over into different DC franchises, it seems highly unlikely to expect this to happen on television, since Arrow, Gothan Central and the Constantine show will air on different networks.
There is no premiere date set for the television adaptation of Constantine but stay tuned for details as they become available.