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A Primer on 'Constantine' - The Latest DC Comics Character Headed to Television

Is TV Ready for an Anti-hero Con Man Supernatural Detective?

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Deadline has another exclusive with the announcement of another DC Comics character headed to television. 'Constantine' is slated for development by another The Mentalist helmer, Daniel Cerone, and prolific Warner Bros. screenwriter David S. Goyer (Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel) for the NBC network. Bruno Heller, the other The Mentalist producer, just got a series order for a drama at Fox, 'Gotham', based on Batman's Gotham City ally Commissioner Gordon following his early days as a young detective. This follows earlier news that a Flash series will be spun-off current CW Green Arrow hit show, Arrow. So it seems that Warner Bros. is making a deliberate effort to inundate the television landscape with more of their DC Comics properties. Which is fantastic news but how will the con man-turned-reluctant supernatural detective John Constantine translate to television?

First let's get a little background from the always reliable Wiki-page:

The character first appeared in Swamp Thing (vol. 2) #37 (June 1985), and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben. He serves 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. A roguish counterculture antihero, Constantine 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. Pop artist Sting served as visual inspiration for the character. A live-action film was also released in 2005 entitled Constantine, where the character is played by Keanu Reeves.

So now you can see why he'd make a compelling television character. A roguish Brit, chain-smoking and fighting his own demons as well as actual demons could make for some exciting drama. Cerone is no stranger to fantasy (Charmed) or sci-fi (Threshold) as well as producing some of the best episodes of Dexter. Goyer is synonymous with co-writing some of Warner Bros. biggest comic book movies as well as creating the popular Da Vinci's Demons on the Starz network. The talent behind the lens is bonafide but it will take a charming actor able to be cynical and snarky while not being off-putting. In a dream scenario you can imagine someone like Jude Law, Alexander Skarsgard, or Dominic West donning the trenchcoat but chances are they'll go with a virtual unknown. 'Constantine' should be a welcomed addition to a television landscape already embracing fantasy stories.

Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, Grimm, and Beauty and the Beast are just some examples of how fantasy has found a home on network schedules. So if the pilot for 'Constantine' succeeds it would definitely help the character's profile in light of the long-rumored big screen adaptation of Justice League Dark, the supernatural super team companion to Justice League, attached to director Guillermo Del Toro. The time certainly seems right for a fantasy drama that if the printed version is any indication will encompass not just the struggle between heaven and hell but also the sins of society with Constantine firmly planted in the center with both middle fingers up.

Still not convinced Constantine can make it on television? Then you're in luck because earlier this year Paste Magazine listed the ten best John Constantine: Hellblazer stories. Find out what makes him so compelling and what kind of stories could transcend the genre on TV.

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