NBC’s dark and beautiful first season of Hannibal has won the network much respect for its ability to create high-quality horror television, but whether this is a fluke or a trend will be determined by the upcoming Constantine TV show that was optioned last year and got a pilot order last week. David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) and Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist) co-wrote the script and it shouldn’t be too long before production gets underway.
For the uninitiated, “Hellblazer” is a fairly long-running comic book series from DC about a coarse and dry-witted British magician called John Constantine, who straddles the border between hero and anti-hero as he delves into the world of the supernatural and faces off against all manner of demons and monsters. He’s not the most family-friendly of protagonists – partly because of his hard drinking/smoking and partly because of his hazy morals and knack for creating collateral damage – but he has a strong fanbase who were saddened when “Hellblazer” was cancelled in 2012 and the older Constantine was retired in favor of a younger, hipper version who took over in the New 52 title “Constantine.”
Generally speaking the best people to talk to about an upcoming show are the people who are actually on the creative team, but nonetheless IGN was able to glean some details from NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. With The CW’s Arrow throwing new DC heroes and villains into the mix almost every week, IGN asked whether the Constantine pilot would be taking this direction or whether it would focus on the supernatural and horror elements of the comics. Greenblatt’s reply was vague but promising.
“I don’t know the DC comic very well… There is dark, interesting stuff in it, but it’s also got some witty banter. It’s a fun tone, although the supernatural stuff is scary.”
The 2005 movie adaptation of “Hellblazer,” Constantine, uprooted the story from its British home and cast Keanu Reeves into the lead role, and it might be hoped that Goyer and Cerone are willing to stick a little closer to comic book canon. Failing the creation of a fully UK-based show, however, Constantine could also affect a similar formula to CBS’s Elementary and drop the cynical scouse magician into an American setting. A fairly lengthy arc of “Hellblazer” was dedicated to John Constantine taking a road trip through America and the result was a run of a thoroughly enjoyable stories, though they unfortunately lacked the usual crew of supporting characters.
Since “Hellblazer” belongs to DC’s darker and more supernatural-focused Vertigo imprint, Constantine doesn’t cross paths with the likes of Green Arrow or Batman too often. However, shared universes are all the rage at the moment thanks to Marvel’s string of comic book movie successes, and with Arrow performing successfully and Fox’s detective show Gotham on the way, IGN asked Greenblatt about the likelihood of a crossover with one or both of the other DC shows. He didn’t sound convinced.
“Cross-network is really hard. It’s hard enough to do it within your network. I think let us see how the pilot goes before we answer that question!”
Since we’re still waiting for any news of Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark movie getting a green light – and the wait could go on indefinitely – a “Hellblazer” show could be a great showcase for other DC characters like Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, Shade or even Sandman. Of course, the latter is also getting his own movie courtesy of Warner Bros. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
With little currently known about the upcoming show, let’s file it away under things that we’re cautiously optimistic for, and hope for more news on its lead and setting soon.
We’ll bring you the latest news on Constantine as it becomes available.