First Thoughts on Constantine: You Should Be Watching ItNovember 7, 2014
This fall, DC’s been producing more TV shows than it probably should, but somehow they’re pulling it off. Between Gotham, The Flash, and the return of Arrow, they’ve got their basic superhero and villain origin stories covered, but the biggest surprise of them all is NBC’s Constantine.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I’d even like this show when I first heard about it. While I’m a huge DC Comics fan, I’ve never read any Hellblazer comics, and I wasn’t sure if I should bother getting into a show about a character I knew so little about. But I figured “hey, why not?” If I’m going to give this character a shot, I might as well take advantage of him having his own show.
Thank goodness I did.
Two episodes in and Constantine’s got me hooked. For starters, Matt Ryan is probably the best thing that could’ve happened to this show. I don’t think I’ve seen such indisputably perfect casting by DC since Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon. It’s uncanny how much he physically resembles the character, and of course the Welsh actor sounds the part too. He’s got the cynical, sarcastic attitude of the character down. Though they probably made the character more likeable than his comic book counterpart for the sake of attracting a television audience, the result is still quite satisfying for comic book fans. With the help of writer David S. Goyer, this character is transitioning to the screen very well.
While I may not be as familiar with the Hellblazer series, I do know references when I see them, and like all good superhero shows Constantine’s got plenty. Not just from his own series either; the show also pays homage to some other DC titles. The comic book imagery is spot on. I don’t just mean it feels like the source material, I mean they’ve literally used images from the comics throughout the show. Even some of the dialogue is quoted directly from the books:
“I’ll drive your demons away. I’ll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they’re down and then I’ll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone… who would walk with me?”
John Constantine may be a comic book character, but he’s no superhero. He’s a snarky con man and occult detective, an antihero who wants to get the job done and then maybe go home and lie down for a while. Unlike many horror shows, he doesn’t particularly care if people believe all of this supernatural stuff, nor does he consider it his job to protect people from the truth. Evil is out there, he’s here to save lives and exorcise demons, and there’s no time to tiptoe around the dangerous stuff for the sake of other’s feelings. He’s cunning, blatant, and kind of arrogant, but he’s also trying to atone for past sins and, at his core, genuinely cares about doing some good in the world.
I encourage everyone to give this show a shot. It has a lot of potential and deserves much more attention than it’s getting. It’s got that balance of being a great introduction to John Constantine for people who have never read Hellblazer while also fulfilling the needs of the more hardcore fans. Constantine doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard to be a comic book show, and yet it’s probably one of the most successful ones out there in terms of staying true to the source’s intention. Catch up online or with On Demand, and then get to the new episodes on Fridays – this show is definitely one to watch.
This article was written for publication on the GCE by Alanna Smith