Five ways in which NBC could make Constantine closer to the comics

Constantine - Season 1

In light of the recent news that production on NBC’s Constantine has been halted at 13 episodes, I thought it might be time to weigh in with how the show might help best addresses some of the areas in which it is perceived to be playing it safe.

All of this is, of course, subjective, and it is well documented that I approach the canon of Constantine with a lot of baggage given my personal fondness for the character, but I also feel that if anyone is best qualified to voice an opinion on the show’s direction, it should be those who know him best.

Those that aren’t dead.

Therefore, without further ado, let’s consider five points in which Constantine can progress.

Needless to say spoilers for those who haven’t read Hellblazer follow.

  • The Significance and Later Fate of Manny:

For a start, John should cut Manny‘s wings off with a chainsaw. This may at first seem like a radical and unfavourable statement to make, but let’s consider the fate of Gabriel during Garth Ennis‘s run on the title.

Screenshot 2014-11-29 18.25.14Secluded away within the confines of the Cambridge Club, a club exclusively for aristocratic Cambridge graduates, the archangel Gabriel has lost contact with the world he has been placed to watch over. With no guiding voice from above, it is easy for Gabriel to be manipulated by a far right wing movement intent on bringing about his fall so that he might be co-opted for their own nationalist agenda.

Of course, no one counted on John Constantine‘s involvement. In the end, Gabriel falls, his heart plucked out by the succubus, Chantinelle, and his wings shorn off by Constantine himself with a handy chainsaw.

Whilst this scheme is part of John‘s overall plan to avoid having his soul damned forever to Hell as the result of some particular dodgy dealing involving a cure for cancer, there is a broader point here that has yet to be addressed by the television series – John isn’t anyone’s stooge. The notion of him broodingly working away on behalf of Heaven is damaging to the character in that it shows a willingness on Constantine‘s part to accept an authority higher than his own selfish interest.

The balance needs to be addressed – which could easily be done by seeing our beloved antihero selling out Manny in a future story arc.

With a chainsaw.

  • Caped Crusaders:

Whilst I’m not especially enthused about the idea of superheroes showing up in the series, it is absurd to pretend that John‘s roots and his present role in the populist Constantine comic book don’t involve a more subtle balance with DC‘s shared continuity.

IScreenshot 2014-11-29 19.02.54f given half a chance, I would elect fellow Vertigo alumni, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, and Shade the Changing Man as potential cameos, but episode #5 of the series – and the cameo from Doctor Fate‘s helm in the pilot – have already shown to a degree that the producers are obviously thinking of a broader picture.

Given the criticisms levelled at DC recently regarding the division between the television and motion picture arms of their planned cinematic universe, why not use Constantine to shore up other DC shows on television – because, let’s face it, if even the awful Sword and Sorcery comics can manage to work in a Constantine cameo and keep him fairly in character, then this shouldn’t be so hard to work out on screen.

Have Papa Midnite put a curse on Arrow, have the Flash trying to outrun Death – just find a reason to get Constantine involved.

  • Epiphany Greaves:

Screenshot 2014-11-29 19.56.41Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have much of a problem with Zed‘s character in the TV series. She’s far, far from the character in the comics – in fact the series seems to be doing a fair trade in taking names from the comics and associating them with entirely new characters (see below) – but she doesn’t have the chemistry (no pun intended) with John that the show really requires.

In truth, any character could replace her. We’ve already seen Liv in the pilot, and there are a wealth of potential love interests from Hellblazer that could work in her place – Marj, Kit, Dani, Angie – yet what the series desperately needs is someone who can match wits with Constantine, who can go toe to toe with him in regards to the darker aspects of his life.

Who better than his future wife, the 23 year-old daughter of a North London gangster and professional alchemist, Epiphany Greaves?

Whilst I would settle for the inclusion of Gemma Masters, it is unarguable that Epiphany would certainly spice up the show more than a little.

  • Home is where the Heart is:

Screenshot 2014-11-29 19.32.10I can live with globe-trotting Constantine, I can live with Constantine in America, be it on a road-trip with the dead John F. Kennedy, or banged up in gaol, but it’s hard to accept that the television show’s sole focus are the same usual studio locations in Canada and America dressed up to look like other American cities. It’s time to break out the budget on this and either send John to distinctly different places (even Hell)… or send him home.

London is very much its own character in Hellblazer, from the demon yuppies in Spitalfields to the closed waterways of the River Effra, nothing adds character to the stories of Hellblazer like a little dash of familiarity.

By moving the show back to Constantine‘s adopted heartlands of Brixton, the series would be doing itself an amazing favour in regards to setting Constantine apart from the shadow of the many other supernatural procedural shows it has found itself in competition with.

  • Screenshot 2014-11-29 19.35.08Chas Chandler:

If you can’t do Chas right, just don’t do him at all.

 

 

Should Constantine make it into its second series, it should be interesting to see how this time in reflection will have impacted the show – and hopefully, just maybe, the producers might have realised that playing it safe is certainly not the way to justice for a two-bit, lying, conniving bastard like John Constantine.

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