NBC‘s Constantine TV Show Pilot Takes Shape. When NBC first optioned Constantine, based on a Vertigo/DCU comics character and series, Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer were already attached. Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist) wrote the script, based on a collaboration with Goyer (Blade trilogy & series, Dark Knight trilogy, Da Vinci’s Demons), and the pair was set to serve as Executive Producers. A series pilot has since been ordered, and now a director has been added to the creative team.
Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers, Game of Thrones, Black Sails) will direct the Constantine pilot.
About John Constantine:
Created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben, the character first appeared in Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #37 (June 1985), before serving as the lead character of the comic books Hellblazer (1988–2013) and Constantine (2013–).
The titular Hellblazer, Constantine is a working-class magician, occult detective, and con man stationed in London. He is known for his endless cynicism, deadpan snarking, ruthless cunning, and constant chain smoking, but is also a passionate humanist driven by a heartfelt desire to do some good in his life. Originally a supporting character who played a pivotal role in the “American Gothic” Swamp Thing storyline, Constantine received his own comic in 1988.
Although a compassionate humanist who struggles to overcome the influence of both Heaven and Hell over humanity and despite his occasional forays into heroism, Constantine is a foul-mouthed, disillusioned, British cynic who pursues a life of sorcery and danger. His motivation has been attributed to an adrenaline addiction that only the strange and mysterious can sate. He also seems to be something of a “Weirdness Magnet”
Constantine is shown to be someone with a wide and international circle of contacts and allies, and is adept at making friends. He has had many girlfriends as well, and one story mentions past boyfriends too. At the same time, his close friends inevitably suffer or are outright killed simply by being in his life; this has left a severe mark on him. In #69, when the King of Vampires killed the man next to him and casually asked if he’d been a friend, John replied “Must be. He’s dead.” Constantine also has a reputation as being one of the most powerful sorcerers in the world.
Although being a powerful sorcerer, Constantine rarely uses magic, instead choosing to use his wits to trick his opponents. Constantine is also referred to as “The Constant One” because of his whole family tree being somewhat connected to the occult. Many of his ancestors are sorcerers from different eras of history, and somewhat has taken part in many known historical events.
While Constantine has worn many clothes over the years he was originally portrayed as often wearing a blue pin-stripe suit, tan trench coat and occasionally gloves. As the series progressed his trademark attire became a grungier (or perhaps the same just older) trench coat, white shirt and black tie, but has recently returned more to his earlier fashion. Constantine smokes Silk Cut cigarettes, consuming thirty or so a day. John also occasionally breaks the fourth wall, where he talks to the reader and narrates the story himself.
As a sorcerer, Constantine is armed with the knowledge of many magical spells, rituals, and curses, such as evocation, necromancy, illusions, invisibility, and can even use magic to time travel. He also has a wide range of protection magic such as sigils and magic circles that can protect him from both physical and supernatural attacks; but John’s most signature ability is synchronicity wave traveling, which is an instinctual supernatural ability for Constantine to make his own luck. This has led John to uncanny luck at games of chance, the ability to avoid and escape harm, meet the right kind of ally to help prevent or stop an apocalyptic event from happening, and reshape the battle he’s fighting to his own accord. Constantine is also highly resistant to many psychic attacks such as telepathy, possessions, and mind control. He can even use magic to block off omnipresence, seen where he once used sigils to hide himself from The First of the Fallen.
Aside from sorcery, Constantine has also exhibited considerable mastery in “stage magic skills”—hypnosis, sleight of hand, pick pocketing, and escapology. John also carries with him arsenal of powerful magical artifacts to aid him in battle, such as The House of Mystery which also serves as his transportation to different realms of the universe, and his trademark trench coat that also possesses powerful demonic powers. Because of tricking the lords of hell into curing his lung cancer, he is perpetually in good health and physicality ever since. Constantine’s blood is demonically tainted, initially by a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal, and later by sex with a succubus. His blood has been shown to have healing properties, and is noted to have an age-managing effect. It also acted as a defense mechanism when attacked by the King of the Vampires, as it is highly corrosive and poisonous.
Constantine’s skills in unarmed combat varies depending on the writer. Some portrays him as a poor physical fighter, while others as a capable hand-to-hand combatant. However, he has occasionally won fights, either by using magical weapons, by fighting dirty, or by quick-thinking.
John Constantine HellBlazer
As one of the most popular comic book characters of all time, Constantine brings an understandably high level of expectation to any adaptation effort. The 2005 film of the same name suffered for a number of reasons; but one primary factor was the abandonment of the source character, in favor of one seemingly made up out of whole cloth for Keanu Reeves. Alan Moore had made it very clear that Constantine was created in performer Sting‘s image (for his role in the films like Quadrophenia, for instance), that image (complete with his signature tan trench coat) serving as integral components of the character. I imagine the Keanu Reeves Americanization of the role contributed to Moore’s wholesale rejection of Hollywood comic book adaptations.
Some encouraging word, then, comes that the NBC pilot will feature a blonde Brit, and will be set in London. Further encouragement should come from Neil Marshall’s involvement. The atmosphere and grit, of films like The Descent and Dog Soldiers, should lend themselves well to Constantine; while other fans, critical of the source works in American hands, may appreciate that Marshall is British. American writing aside, the Constantine pilot is shaping up to look and feel like the source material.
Of course, there will still be the matter of casting. James Marsters first came to mind, when I head about the 2005 film; but his Spike character (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel) seemed pretty similar to John Constantine, as it was (ironic, since Spike was the supposed inspiration for Billy Idol‘s look), and he is also an American (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I think a relatively fresh , authentically British actor is in order. Name recognition casting does enough damage to such projects.
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