The past few weeks have seen big news from the two big comic book movie camps clamoring for attention: the release dates of Warner Bros. and DC’s interconnected movie universe and the leaked trailer for Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron (followed by the official version). Despite a head start, all that may have threatened to overshadow DC’s still-expanding television universe.
Yet TV has proven a different animal: Marvel’s success hasn’t translated to its only current television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which only found its stride in the wake of Captain America 2‘s game-changing plot twists. DC, on the other hand, has seen its flagship CW show Arrow keep going strong in its third season, along with the strong debut of spinoff The Flashand the equally-solid opening of Batman prequel Gotham.
Now, we have the numbers for the premiere episode of DC’s fourth television series, NBC’s Constantine (read our review here), based on the long-running comic book Hellblazer and starring Matt Ryan. According to Variety, despite mighty competition in the form of the 2014 World Series on Fox (which of course won overall with 9.9 million viewers), Constantine scored 4.3 million viewers and a 1.4 in the 18-49 demographic in its 10pm timeslot – a 90% retention of the same demographic from its lead-in, the hit fantasy series Grimm.
It’s too early to tell if Constantine can keep this momentum going, but such a strong showing against something like the World Series is a good early sign, even with such a somewhat middling debut. One big hurdle the next episode will have to overcome is the fact that Liv (Lucy Griffiths), a major character in the pilot – and meant to remain one from the show’s outset – will be replaced by longtime comic book character Zed Martin (Angélica Celaya).
With DC’s other new shows Gotham and The Flash seemingly finding their footing and respective tones nearly right out of the gate, it will be interesting to see if Constantine can do the same. Each of these shows has the unenviable task of exploring something wholly new to DC’s television universe (or, should we say, “multiverse?“) – a pre-Batman Gotham City, the introduction of superpowers and metahumans into the continuity established by Arrow, and now the gathering supernatural forces of darkness.
If Constantine can keep up this strong early showing, audiences will find themselves primed to accept such similarly mystical titles both on the big screen (Shazam) and on TV (Doctor Fate, Justice League Dark). In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s decidedly-grounded Dark Knight trilogy, some fans may need to re-orient themselves to these realms being explored in live-action adaptations.
Constantine airs Friday nights at 10/9c on NBC.