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The CW, DC Universe, animated universe and HBO Max: How Matt Ryan’s Constantine is the key to it all

May 23rd, 2020 by Marc Comments

We reported a few weeks ago (here) that DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was headed to The CW to be screened on TV due to that damned virus creating a serious lack of TV content being filmed currently.

At the time, we reported to not get too excited, as it didn’t mean DC Universe’s prematurely cancelled series was getting picked up but rather that it was there to be aired and not to join The CW’s Arrowverse.

But it seems that Arrowverse boss Marc Guggenheim believes not having Swamp Thing not joining the shared universe would be a real “wasted opportunity”.

“I tried very, very hard to get Swamp Thing in Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Guggenheim says of last year’s massive Arrowverse/rest of the DC universe crossover.

“Because when you’ve got Constantine [Matt Ryan, more on him in a minute], to not have a crossover with Swamp Thing, it’s just a shame, a wasted opportunity.

“I honestly don’t know the answer to that question, in large part because whether The CW has the broadcast rights to Swamp Thing or not, it doesn’t really impact the various reasons why Swamp Thing wasn’t in Crisis. My attitude is always hope springs eternal.”

However, Guggenheim sees the Crisis on Infinite Earths event as a beacon of hope [It brought together DC TV shows and movies since 1966 and even alluded to the animated universes too] and, if that can happen, anything is possible… Swamp Thing DID appear in the crossover, but it was literally about two seconds of screen time.

“You know, if you had asked me before we’d done 90% of the things we’ve ended up doing on the Arrowverse shows, I would have told you it wasn’t going to happen,” Guggenheim says.

“So long ago, I got out of the prediction business, because stuff happens that, man, I would have bet real money that it wasn’t gonna happen.”

The CW president Mark Pedowitz is pretty clear that at the moment there is no plans to rescue Swamp Thing but he doesn’t completely rule it out: “At the moment, it’s just the one season.

“I do not know if it would come back. Obviously that would be a discussion for Warner Bros. and The CW. But at this time, Swamp Thing is just the episodes we have.”

We learned after Swamp Thing was cancelled (here) the DC Universe had originally planned on Swamp thing being the kicking off point for Justice League Dark on DC Universe [more on that soon] but alas, it wasn’t to be.

Swamp Thing writer Gary Dauberman said after the cancellation: “The swamp is very much the kitchen sink of supernatural terror and, as you know, you can go into different subgenres of horror with that and I was really looking forward to exploring that in Season Two and getting into some of the more twisted horror tales from the later comics. It just would have got weirder.

“For people who don’t know the character, Season One was telling people what Swamp Thing was all about but Season Two was going to be more about getting into the deeper, twisted, weirder, and gross ideas,” he added.

Ah, what could have been, eh… but what of the future?

Constantine star Matt Ryan, himself no stranger to cancelled shows after his superb NBC Constantine series was canned in 2014 before The CW took him into The CW, first in Arrow and then in Legends of Tomorrow where he can be found to this day, is hoping that there’s a chance that his Constantine will get his teeth into the character in new ways in the near future.

HBO Max have revealed that they plan on bringing a Justice League Dark series, under JJ Abrams (here), to the streaming service in the near future – a series which originally it looks like (see above) DC Universe had its eyes on [and before that was set to be a Guillermo Del Toro movie in the larger DCEU].

Justice League Dark is, like the main Justice League, a team of heroes who save the world on a regular basis, only they tend to battle supernatural enemies, with the team usually consisting of Constantine, Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon, Zatanna and Deadman, with others – including Batman and others – coming and going regurlarly.

And now Ryan is hoping that he will be offered the Constantine role, essentially tying the universes together.

“I’m a theater actor, you know?” Ryan says.

“That’s where I spent most of my life. I always say to them, ‘Just get me in the room’. And then if they don’t want me for the role that’s their choice. But I would be very disappointed if a project like that went ahead without even sitting down and seeing what I could do with the material.”

With it being on HBO Max, it’s very likely that the show will be its own universe and likely much darker, with its Constantine not being related in any way to Ryan’s current one – it’s not even totally clear if his Arrowverse Constantine is the same one he played in the NBC series as that left on a cliffhanger that, as yet, has not been closed. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Ryan plays Constantine in the DC Animated Universe movies too with his most recent appearance being in the wonderfully adult Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.

But, the point is that when you throw all this into the mutli-verse mix that was blown open by The Arrowverse’s Crisis On Infinite Earths events, then that means that connected ir not, Ryan is still the man for the gig.

“Even though the material is different and I know that I’m gonna have to adhere to the material in my head, I have to stay in that world of John Constantine and all of those comics that I love,” Ryan adds.

“So even though I have to dance to these different tunes, that’s what I want to think about, and that’s what I fell in love with. Whatever happens, John Constantine is a great character. I have no right to this character, no ownership over him. I’m an actor! How many people play Hamlet or Macbeth? I feel lucky to have played him, but there’s a part of me artistically that wants to dive into a part of John that I want to explore, and hopefully that opportunity comes!”

However, Ryan wants, if not to make it to the ranks of a live-action Justice League Dark, to meet another team member on screen: Zatanna. The character in the comics in recent years has become Constantine’s main love interest and Ryan says he’d be jealous if anyone else got to get them together in live-action before he had a chance at it.

The live-action bit is important here as in the DC Animated movies Constantine and her fight side-by-side already, so you could argue he’s already got one toe in the water.

“The relationship with Zatanna is something that I’ve not explored in live action; that’s one character that I would love to see John [meet] in live action,” Ryan said.

“I think I’d be disappointed [if someone else played Constantine and teamed up with Zatanna]. It’s a funny thing isn’t it?” Ryan goes on.

“You fall in love with these characters and you play them, and there’s so much more that’s tied to so many time slots that I want to explore with Constantine… I feel like there’s certain colours and strokes and storylines that I’ve explored with John over the years in all the different mediums, but there’s still more that I want to dig into stylistically as well in terms of the character in terms of the tones of where you could put them in TV shows and movies and things like that.

“And I still do feel that there’s a huge part of me that wants to go there. And so I would be very disappointed if someone else got to go there and I didn’t.”

Given Ryan’s history with the character – and let’s be honest, his performance in the role [even in Legends] is spot-on – and his character’s importance to the DC Universe – he called a meeting with Lucifer in Crisis for heaven’s sake! – means that not only is he great fun, but Ryan and Constantine have become so intrinsically linked that they may just, for those of us who love a good shared universe, be the single more important character in the DC TV universe now and moving ahead.

And that’s pretty cool, we think.


Sources: CB, CB and Superherohype

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….