Weekend Superhero: January 14, 2017
Last week saw some really fantastic news for fans of DC television. The CW renewed all four of its DC shows – Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl – for more seasons. While this alone is enough to make fans smile, the CW managed to pull one more rabbit out of its hat and bring some magic back into the world. The station has decided to give life back to the cancelled NBC series, Constantine.
Ok, it’s not quite as simple as that. While hardcore fans – such as your friend and humble writer today – would love to see the Hellblazer in live-action once more, this time around we will have to settle for an animated series. Premiering during the 2017-18 season on CW Seed, Constantine will follow the lead of Vixen, another DC animated show that blends in with the DCTV universe. The season will be 5-6 episodes long, and each episode will run about 10 minutes. Just like in Vixen, we may even get appearances from Stephen Amell or Grant Gustin as their respective tight-pantsed heroes.
One thing is for certain, however: Constantine himself is going to be terrific. I know this because they have confirmed Matt Ryan will return to voice the notorious occultist. In case you were unaware, Ryan is John Constantine come to life. His performance in the NBC series was spot on to what the antihero should be: smarmy, cunning, and with just the right notes of self-deprecation. It was an absolute travesty when Constantine was cancelled, because wasting Ryan’s interpretation of the lead role on only 13 episodes was a sin. Thankfully, the CW has brought the Hellblazer back from the dead.
Of course, if you watched Arrow season four, you’re already somewhat familiar with Constantine. He shows up in an early episode and assists in retrieving Sara Lance’s soul after she’s resurrected from the Lazarus Pit. It was a great episode, but it made me hungry for more of this character that I love.
The question is: which Constantine are we going to get from this animated series? At his roots, John Constantine is a right bastard. He’s a vulgar, chain-smoking con-artist that leaves a trail of dead friends in his wake. The two most famous Hellblazer comic writers were Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis, who never once hesitated to plunge the series into a miasma of darkness and filth. This is the Constantine that most die-hards want to see, and it’s highly unlikely that the CW will give it to us. It’s just not the channel for that type of material.
We will likely get more recent Constantine, post-New 52, in which he’s basically just a humorous jerk that always comes out on top. While I prefer the Ennis version of the character, I accept the positive aspects of his more current incarnations. While they’ve lost their edge and moodiness significantly, they do play up his con-man charisma quite a bit. On the CW, where everyone must be sexy and mysterious, this is likely the version that will explored. Would it be nice to see some “Fear Machine” Constantine? Sure – but that’d likely depress everyone that watched it.
Personally, I think this is a prime opportunity to introduce another magnificent, under-appreciated DC character to life: Swamp Thing. After all, Constantine premiered in Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 during Alan Moore’s legendary run. The lives of Constantine and the champion of The Green are constantly intertwining, and an animated series would be the perfect place to explore that. Swamp Thing would have a hard time transferring to live-action, particularly on the budget of a CW show. However, in an animated world you can do all the crazy transformations you want with him and it won’t look foolish.
So what do you think will come of this animated Constantine series? Do you share my excitement that the character will be getting more play? Are you indifferent to his existence at all? Would you rather them just give him back a regular, live-action series? Do you think this is the CW toying with the idea of adding John Constantine to the roster of the Legends of Tomorrow? (I certainly hope so). Let us know by commenting below.