Warners: ‘Constantine’ is dead… long live ‘Constantine’..?

Warners giveth and Warners giveth away... but it seems Constantine's fate is shifting...

It wasn’t so long ago that interest was piqued with the announcement that J J Abrams would be involved in a Constantine television series for HBO Max, a quite suitable venue for the arcane/supernatural series starring one of DC Comics most acerbic heroes. John Constantine was the down-on-his-luck British investigator with a perchance for dealing with dark magicks, the undead and all sorts of nasty other-dimensional beasties – perhaps at the cost of his own chain-smoking soul.  It now looks as if that project is dead itself, a drive-by victim of the rather ruthless scything of many DC properties from the Warner Bros./Discovery slate of projects. In fact, it hasn’t been a great time for Abrams, with his original sf series Demimonde not going forward and Batman: Caped Crusader animated series (on which Abrams was working with animation legend Bruce Timm and The Batman director Matt Reeves) now possibly without a home. Rather than being wiped from the multiverse, it is believed that both projects may be looking for a home elsewhere and the same may be true for the Madame X (being produced and showrun by Angela Robinson) which would also have been part of the Justice League Dark shared universe of projects.

In recent years, variations of the Constantine character have appeared across the schedules. Matt Ryan headlined a short-lived solo project but reprised the role for the CW‘s Legends of Tomorrow. A female ancestor, Lady Johanna Constantine, was recently played by Jenna Coleman in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman for NetflixGangs of London‘s Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù was rumoured to be playing the John character for the J J Abrams’ version.

But it’s not all bad news for J J Abrams or for Constantine fans. In a surprise announcement it appears that Warners is now going forward with a sequel to the 2005 version of the character, reuniting the original star Keanu Reeves with its director Francis Lawrence. The original film had mixed reviews but reportedly brought in around a $230 million worldwide box-office, almost three times its production costs. Some fans liked the non-traditional aspects of comic-adaptations kept onboard for the supernatural tale and its decent VFX…and some decried that Reeves’ version apparently gave up those signature cigarettes for gum, that he had an American accent and that the very name of the character was being pronounced wrongly. (Gaiman has since confirmed the original pronunciation is ConstanTINE not ConstanTEEN). Akiva Goldsman is due to pen the new screenplay and produce the project through his Weed Road Pictures along with  J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and Hannah Minghella.