The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman explains John Constantine’s absence from Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of the acclaimed Vertigo comic.
Neil Gaiman has explained John Constantine’s absence from Netflix’s upcoming television adaptation of The Sandman.
The Sandman TV series will see Jenna Coleman step into the role of Lady Johanna Constantine, an ancestor of John Constantine who originated from the Sandman comics. Coleman will also portray Joanna Constantine, Lady Johanna’s modern-day equivalent (and presumably another descendent of hers).
On Twitter, Gaiman was asked by a fan if this change was due to John Constantine’s involvement in The CW’s Arrowverse shows and planned involvement in HBO Max’s DC lineup. Gaiman replied, stating that while the Hellblazer’s other on-screen exploits certainly would have made it difficult to lock the character down for The Sandman, the plan for the Netflix series was always to have the same actor star in the dual role of Johanna and Joanna Constantine.
The rights situation with John is certainly circumscribed right now. But the plan to have Lady Johanna and Joanna be in the story and played by the same person was there from the start. It seemed tidier. So it worked out.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) September 26, 2021
“The rights situation with John is certainly circumscribed right now,” Gaiman wrote. “But the plan to have Lady Johanna and Joanna be in the story and played by the same person was there from the start. It seemed tidier. So it worked out.”
Created by Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch and John Totleben, the character of John Constantine first appeared in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #37, cover-dated June 1985. John later got his own Vertigo Comics title, John Constantine, Hellblazer, which launched in January 1988 with writer Jamie Delano and artist John Ridgway at the helm.
John has since made his way to the world of live-action on a number of occasions. Keanu Reeves played a heavily-modified version of the Hellblazer in the 2005 film Constantine. Matt Ryan went on to play a more comics-accurate version on the NBC series Constantine, which premiered in 2014. While NBC’s Constantine only ran for one season, Ryan’s version of the title character received a second life thanks to the Arrowverse. Plans call for the character to get a live-action reboot in the near future, with HBO Max reportedly developing both a Justice League Dark series and a Constantine solo series.
The first season of Netflix’s Sandman series will adapt the comic’s first story arc, Preludes & Nocturnes. John Constantine played a significant role in this arc, appearing in March 1989’s Sandman #3, “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” in order to help Dream of the Endless locate his missing Sand Pouch — the first of three artifacts Dream must retrieve in order to return to his full power.
Lady Johanna Constantine came into the picture a bit later. Created by Gaiman and Michael Zulli, the character first appeared in Sandman #13, “Men of Good Fortune,” which was published in February 1990 as part of the title’s second story arc, The Doll’s House. Lady Johanna was the previous owner of Fawny Rig, the manor that eventually came into the possession of one Roderick Burgess. Burgess used the house as the base of operations for the Order of Ancient Mysteries, with the occult group going on to imprison Dream for several decades, as told in Sandman #1.
In addition to Jenna Coleman as both Johanna and Joanna Constantine, Netflix’s The Sandman stars Tom Sturridge as Dream, Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, Boyd Holbrook as the Corinthian, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Mason Alexander Park as Desire and Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, among many others. The series does not have a premiere date, though is expected to arrive sometime in 2022.
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