Matt Ryan Is TV's New Constantine

From DC comics to small screens


2005’s Constantine came in for plenty of stick for the things it changed about the character and his world, most notably for installing Keanu Reeves instead of the blond Sting-alike comics fans had gotten used to. Now DC and Warner Bros. TV are looking to redress at least that issue, announcing actor Matt Ryan as the TV version of the character.

Looking to find another success to sit alongside Smallville and the more recent Arrow, the companies have DC go-to adapter David S. Goyer and presumed showrunner Daniel Cerone working on a pilot script that would explore the enigmatic, caustic and powerful supernatural detective’s world - and, we hope, that won't shave off too many of his sharp angles in the process. At least the pilot’s character is described as British, even if he has switched a Liverpudlian origin for a London tone. And Ryan’s British, so that’s another step forward.

Whether anyone can truly bottle the sheer dark joy of the character remains to be seen. The legendary Alan Moore created John Constantine in 1985, as a supporting character in his famous Swamp Thing run. It was Swamp Thing's title, but the scene-stealing Constantine immediately became the story's engine, installing himself essentially as Swamp Thing's manager in an arc involving the Brujeria: a black magic chaos cult who had quietly taken over the world and were next intent on the destruction of Heaven.

Constantine grew to the extent that he was given his own series called Hellblazer in 1988 (initially to be called Hellraiser until a certain Clive Barker film forced a re-think). With Moore disinclined to write it himself, the job fell to fellow Northampton resident Jamie Delano, whose lengthy run was followed by sterling work from Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Denise Mina, Andy Diggle and Pete Milligan (among many others, including Neil Gaiman). After 25 years, post DC's New 52 re-jig, Hellblazer was retired last February at issue 300, and Constantine was folded into regular DC continuity, both in his own more mainstream series, and as part of the Justice League Dark.

From the looks of it, this one will at least produce a pilot and, if that passes muster, should be on screen later this year. For more on Hellblazer, check out our feature here.