Soon, there will be as many live-action versions of John Constantine on-screen as there are Spider-Men. Streaming service HBO Max is apparently making a new, darker iteration of the character for the small screen, and the show will be produced by JJ Abrams' company Bad Robot.
The character, who originated in the comic book Swamp Thing before getting his own book, the long-running Hellblazer, has previously been played by both Keanu Reeves in the 2005 movie Constantine and Matt Ryan in the quickly-cancelled 2014 show of the same name. Ryan's version of the character has proven popular, however, and had a second life in the DC Comics TV show Legends of Tomorrow, as well as various animated projects.
Up-and-coming British novelist and screenwriter Guy Bolton has written the show's pilot episode, and a writers' room is apparently being assembled for next month. This suggests HBO Max is pretty keen on the series.
Deadline reports that the show will cast John Constantine as a young Londoner, with a "diverse lead" being sourced for the series. In the comics, Constantine is from Liverpool in the UK. He's a warlock, exorcist, and general participant in the dark magic side of the DC Universe. While his original comics were set in a different continuity to Batman, Superman and company, around a decade ago, DC merged him into the superhero world.
It's unclear when the show will be released.
HBO Max goes big on superheroes to fight Disney Plus
HBO Max is owned by Warner Bros, and therefore has ample access to DC's superheroes. While The CW shows like Arrow and The Flash have their fans, it's fair to say Disney Plus has set the bar much higher with WandaVision in terms of production values and overall quality.
The DC shows on HBO Max are expected to be a different deal. This new John Constantine is actually just one of a new class of show – other series include Peacekeeper, a spin-off of the upcoming James Gunn movie The Suicide Squad, which will star John Cena. Another movie spin-off is coming in the form of Gotham PD, a prequel to The Batman starring Robert Pattinson.
A series called Green Lantern Corps is also in the works, as is another Bad Robot/JJ Abrams-affiliated series called Justice League Dark. This is in addition to HBO Max's existing suite of DC shows – Doom Patrol, the animated Harley Quinn and Titans.
Collectively, will it be enough to catch the attention of comic book fans?