To say there is a glut of DC comics presently being adapted to television would be like saying that New York Comic Con gets only slightly overcrowded on a Saturday. Gotham, iZombie, Flash and Constantine are joining the already successful Arrow this season. The likelihood that all of the shows will survive beyond 2015 is slim.
So how is Constantine balancing on the perilous edge between standing apart and simultaneously meeting the desires of a fickle TV viewership? That was the subtext of every question asked at the roundtable discussion for the new NBC show.
And the answer seems to be that, much like John Constantine himself, the people behind the Hellblazer adaptation are less interested in satisfying an impossible-to-please public and more interested in doing what they want. And what they want is to bring a fully realized John Constantine, warts and all, to the small screen.
Even though David Goyer was kidding when he responded to the question of replacing actor Lucy Griffiths with "The actresses better walk a very careful line," the subtext is true -- if the makers of Constantine don't like something, they'll change it. And, more importantly, NBC will back their play.
The reason the Liv character was introduced was NBC felt the audience would be a bit more comfortable with someone who wasn't a part of the occult world who was in their as an audience point of view, an entry point. But, we'd always been thinking of bringing in the Zed character and as we continued breaking stories it became more interesting once we thought of introducing someone who was also a part of that world that would go toe-to-toe with John. And we batted around for a couple of weeks and then we went back to NBC and we said 'You know what, we think we wanna make a change, we wanna bring in a new character,' and they said 'okay.' It was our decision, they didn't foist it on us.
And the other big, obvious question was "Just how much of the original John will we actually see transferred from Hellblazer?" On this point, Goyer was as clear as a cold winter sky, saying, "Watch the first six episodes of the show. He's a d***! NBC backed that. He lies and he cheats and he'll kick people in the balls and he drinks too much and he sleeps around. He's a total dog, and none of that has been changed or watered down for the show."
Lead actor Matt Ryan mirrored the sentiment when talking about his version of Constantine's pragmatism by saying, "He'll kill his best friend to save a thousand people, but if his best friend is the most important, than he'll kill a thousand people to save his best friend."
And speaking of standing apart, actor Angelica Celaya doesn't feel like there's ever been a character on Zed like before, and she's proud of breaking new ground.
She's not prissy and there's no t**s and a**. She gets down in the dirt. And I love the fact that she just so happens to be Latina. It's not that she waves her Mexican flag or her Columbian flag or whatever, she just so happens to be. I love the fact that that's how it's written. I think that's putting Latino women and women in general ten paces forward.
If you put all together, the message is pretty clear -- Constantine is just trying to be Constantine. Now they just have to hope both fans of Hellblazer and people looking for something different will show up.