The usual reservations about adaptations notwithstanding, there are plenty of reasons to get excited for NBC’s planned Constantine adaptation. Francis Lawrence’s movie adaptation had its merits, but the Hellblazer comics would probably work better as a TV series, if only because it means that the laughing magician can get into fresh trouble every single week.
Back when casting first began, we predicted that the show could end up with a British John Constantine in a US setting, since a significant story arc in the comic books focused on Constantine’s time spent in America. It’s a formula that’s been used successfully in CBS’ Sherlock Holmes procedural drama Elementary, and is a decent compromise between total faithfulness to the source material and the network’s desire to appeal to a US audience.
It looks like this is exactly what NBC has planned, based on some new plot details from Bleeding Cool and the lead casting choice of Welsh actor Matt Ryan (the voice of charismatic pirate Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag).
Bleeding Cool previously broke the news that the show’s protagonist would be a blond Brit with a London accent, and according to the latest report from the site, the Constantine pilot episode will be set in New York and will feature Papa Midnite as its main antagonist. If the pilot goes well and Constantine gets a full series order, Midnite and Constantine will continue to face off against one another as the series runs on, with increasingly higher stakes.
In the comics, Papa Midnite is a New York mob boss and skilled voodoo practitioner cursed with immortality, who by turns finds himself fighting against and reluctantly allied with John Constantine. He has his own brand of powerful magic to combat Constantine’s trickery, which combined with their adversarial relationship could make for a compelling on-screen rivalry. In the 2005 movie adaptation he was played by Djimon Hounsou.
Bleeding Cool also reports that some scenes will take place at Ravenscar Psychiatric Hospital, the asylum where John was sent after losing his mind in the aftermath of a ritual gone wrong. At a guess we’d assume that these scenes will be flashbacks to John’s dark past, though in the comics the character does end up returning to Ravenscar some years after his release.
The Constantine pilot will be directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent) from a script by Daniel Cerone (Dexter). Ryan is largely an unknown element, but if he’s as good a face actor as he is a voice actor then he could be exactly the kind of Constantine that this show needs. Not to mention the fact that Constantine’s home town of Liverpool is right on the border of Wales, so geographically speaking Ryan is probably close enough.
Constantine is currently in development and will air on NBC.
Source: Bleeding Cool