Grab your crucifix and some holy water because it looks like you’ll need it if the latest rumours of a Constantine reboot are to be believed.
It seems like an eternity since Hellblazer ‘blazed’ onto our screen with Keanu Reeves in the titular role for 2005’s Constantine.
And now that the hellfires have started burning again, there are obvious questions about whether Reeves will return as the occult detective.
The scoop is that Warner Bros. is working on a Constantine movie with J.J. Abrams producing under his Bad Robot banner.
Constantine will be similar in tone to Bad Robot’s upcoming Justice League Dark TV series, and the rumoured Zatanna movie, however, it’s unclear whether any of the three are connected – Warner Bros. doesn’t have the best luck with expanded DC universes.
And for those unfamiliar with the chain-smoking and whiskey-swilling Scouser, John Constantine is a pretty big deal in the darker depths of DC.
Heading back into the history of DC Comics, Constantine first appeared in Vertigo’s The Saga Of Swamp Thing #37 from 1985.
This cynical Constantine was originally based on the musician Sting, which is arguably a million miles away from Reeves’ portrayal.
Constantine quickly became a fan-favourite addition to DC and spun off into his own Hellblazer comic in 1988. Since then, he’s become a mainstay of the expanded DC world, and a central figure of the Justice League Dark team.
Unfortunately, Francis Lawrence’s Constantine failed to ignite the box office in 2005. Despite an all-star cast of Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, and Tilda Swinton, Constantine made $230.9 million against a budget of $100 million, and muddled through in the critical stakes.
Described as a one-off ‘theological noir action film’, Constantine has become something of a cult classic over the years. This led to Lawrence mulling over the idea of a potential sequel.
In 2011, the director told MTV how he’d want to revisit the world of John Constantine, but only if he could make a hard-R-rated sequel.
Even if any hopes of a Constantine sequel have fallen well into the depths of development hell, that doesn’t mean Reeves’ interest has diminished.
Only last year, the star told Variety: “I’ve always wanted to play John Constantine again. I just love that world, too, and I love that character. I just had a blast playing a character and [playing] in that world.”
Of course, Reeves isn’t the only one to throw his bible into the ring. While Reeves is THE Constantine for many, others will think of Matt Ryan as the only man for the job.
Although NBC’s Constantine series only lasted 13 episodes before network bosses pulled the plug, Ryan’s iteration of the foul-mouthed mystic got a new lease of life thanks to a guest appearance on Arrow.
After finding a new place in the Arrowverse, Constantine was a series regular on Legends Of Tomorrow, and popped up in the multi-show Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover.
Ryan hasn’t just been confined to live-action though. He recently gave his vocals to the role of Constantine for the animated Justice League Dark: Apokolips War. The movie put Constantine at its centre, and is largely credited as being one of the best animated DC movies of all time.
Just like Reeves, Ryan has been vocal about clinging onto playing Constantine. As well as putting himself forward for HBO’s Justice League Dark series, Ryan told Den Of Geek he’s written a Joker-inspired treatment for a Constantine movie that would explore John’s inner demons, as well as the ones around him.
Even though Ryan’s treatment sounds like the vibe Lawrence wanted for the defunct Constantine sequel, that doesn’t mean it’ll go any further.
Also, just because you love a part, doesn’t mean you’ll get to keep it. If Warner Bros. wants to bring Constantine back to the mainstream, an A-lister like Reeves would probably beat Ryan to the punch.
Reeves has always been a big name, but the ongoing success of the John Wick movies has made him one of Hollywood’s hottest properties. Let’s also remember the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is reportedly courting Reeves for a mysterious role, meaning DC had better get in there quick.
As the rebranded Worlds Of DC slate experiences something of a renaissance, thanks to the success of Joker becoming the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time, there’s definitely something in the idea of Constantine getting a fresh lick of paint.
The house that Batman built is also in the press recently thanks to whispers that Michael Keaton could reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman for the upcoming Flash movie.
It’s clear Warner Bros. is working on something big for its DC characters, and if it’s good enough for Keaton, surely it’s good enough for Reeves?
Even if Abrams’ Constantine isn’t a direct sequel of Lawrence’s, maybe that’s for the best. Remember when Ryan Reynolds suited up for Deadpool and ignored the maligned events of X-Men Origins: Wolverine? It’s easy to imagine Reeves doing the same to bring his brooding presence to a new generation of fans.
Whatever is going on, the road to more Constantine has been a long one. Back in the day, movie legend Guillermo del Toro had been working on a Justice League Dark movie and even considered casting Ryan.
Whether it’s a two-horse race to play Constantine or other names are about to be thrown into the mix, rest assured that things are about to get even darker over at Warner Bros.’ Worlds Of DC – quick, someone phone Tim Burton and Zack Snyder.