The NBC series based on the John Constantine: Hellblazer comic book character, titled simply Constantine, premieres TONIGHT at 10PM (ET) on NBC. In anticipation of the premiere, we spoke yesterday with the show’s Executive Producers, David S. Goyer (Blade) and Daniel Cerone (Dexter), for some ideas on what to expect – especially when it comes to connections with the DC Universe.
Beyond Jim Corrigan, the host of The Spectre, who shows up early in the series and is played by Emmett Scanlan, is there anything planned to explore more of the dark side of the DC Comics world in the first season? “Within our first 13 [episodes] you’ll see a couple of other characters from the larger DC Universe,” Goyer told us, stressing that they will only bring characters in if there is an organic fit. In the case of Corrigan, he “was a really natural fit because we had a story first that involved a homicide detective. There was something supernatural involved in the homicide, and so we said ‘Oh! That makes sense’!” he said.
“Here’s an opportunity to plug in Jim Corrigan, and all of a sudden, you saved yourself a lot. Not only are you tapping into the DC Universe and the fans of the comics. It also helped us because we can start building our mythology out, and it now gives Constantine a friend on the force,” Cerone said of the addition of the Corrigan to the show. Interesting trivia: Emmett Scanlan was one of the top choices for the role of John Constantine on this new series, and of course, now, he’s appearing opposite Matt Ryan in future episodes.
“We didn’t want to just introduce these characters and half it be kind of stunt casting where the broader audience would not really understand the backstory, so we needed to make sure that when we do introduce them, there’s a really organic reason to introduce them, and not just introduce them because they’re fun or it’s an Easter egg,” Goyer promised, seemingly taking an opposite approach to the chock-full of DC references and characters that we see in a show like Gotham. Cerone agreed. “It’s not a hit parade of DC characters,” he said.
With all that said, Goyer did say that if the show is picked up for a “back nine” in Season 1, we might see four characters from “the broader DC Universe.” “It will be organic,” Goyer stressed. “The main thing for us is that they’re not just one-hit wonders. Corrigan is a recurring character, so that’s cool.” Constantine does have access to the DC library of occult characters, and Goyer is friends with DC Entertainment’s Geoff Johns, so they discuss projects “all the time.” If it’s a non-occult character, there might be a problem, though. “I think if we wanted to do Blue Beetle, we’d have to negotiate with the Flash or Arrow or something like that. But we coordinate with DC,” Goyer said.
As for the character that spun off Constantine in the first place, the Swamp Thing, Goyer admitted that is a “hard character to pull off.” “In terms of VFX makeup, and we don’t have ten million dollars to do CG. We definitely wouldn’t see him in the first season, [but] if we’re fortunate enough to keep going and we feel like we can pull that off… because that requires a lot of creature design, and we just need to make sure we can put it off and it doesn’t look dumb. And, again, if it’s organic to the story,” he said.
For those unaware with the comic books, Constantine’s longest-running comic book series was not called Constantine, but rather, it was called Hellblazer. Was there ever any temptation to give the TV show that name? “We went back and forth,” David Goyer admitted. “It’s funny, in that the New 52 version of DC where they rebooted Constantine, they called it Constantine and not Hellblazer. We were aware of the fact that the movie had been called that as well, and that that was an instance where we had a discussion back and forth, but I think ultimately, we felt like Hellblazer – for a mainstream audience – requires more explanation, as opposed to the lead character’s name [which] is Constantine, and that’s what the show is [called],” he explained.
“Hellblazer feels like a genre show, and Constantine is a character show,” Cerone added. “We want to be a character show first and foremost, so to have a single title character at the forefront… look, if you read Hellblazer, and you hear of a show called Constantine, you know what that is.”
Regardless of the name of the show, Goyer is very proud of the finished product. “I think the show is amazing, and it does what you hope a show does, which is – they get better and better after the pilot,” he enthuses. “Hellblazer fans are going to be surprised, once we get a few episodes under our belt, at how true to the comics and the character it is.”
Constantine premieres tonight (October 24) at 10PM on NBC.