A few months ago, after years of Keanu Reeves saying that he would love to reprise the role of John Constantine, it was confirmed that a Constantine sequel is finally in the works with the film’s original director Francis Lawrence and scribe Akiva Goldsman also returning.
Collider‘s Steve Weintraub chatted with Lawrence for his upcoming Netflix film Slumberland and couldn’t resist talking about the sequel. During SDCC‘s digital convention in 2020, we hosted a panel to commemorate the 15th anniversary of Constantine, which saw Reeves, Lawrence, and Goldsman reunite to discuss the impact and legacy of the film. Following that panel, Reeves continued to make it known that he wanted to take on the role again, and based on Lawrence’s comments it sounds like the panel, in combination with several subsequent interviews, and an appearance on Stephen Colbert‘s late-night show finally tipped the scales in the favor of the fans. Lawrence revealed, “[Reeves] was asked what character he’d love to play again, and he said John Constantine, and the crowd went nuts. People finally saw that and went, ‘Oh, wait, maybe you guys can go and make the Constantine sequel.’ So it was sort of a variety of factors.”
One of the reasons it took seventeen years to get the sequel off the ground, was the fact that they had to navigate pre-existing plans for the character and work with the various properties involved in his existence, as the director explained:
“It’s something that we’ve been talking about since we made Constantine because we all loved it. So we’ve been talking about it, talking about it, talking about it. All the DC [properties], because Vertigo is part of DC, that sort of like the control of those properties got complicated with Warner Bros. with DC, with JJ [Abrams]’s deal, you know, all those kinds of things. There’s a lot of complicating factors. So it was never Akiva, and Keanu, and I happen to be sort of convinced to do it. It was really trying to figure out how we can get some sort of control over the Constantine character again.”
While Reeves is set to return for the sequel, it’s not yet clear if any of the original cast will also return. Constantine starred Rachel Weisz, Shia LaBeouf, Tilda Swinton, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Djimon Hounsou, and Gavin Rossdale. While some of these characters might prove challenging to bring back, the magical world of Constantine definitely leaves plenty of room to explore.
The first Constantine movie premiered back in 2005 and became a cult hit with audiences and fans of the comics. Reeves’ troubled John Constantine was living in Los Angeles and working as an exorcist who could communicate with angels and demons. He was also trying to redeem himself after attempting to commit suicide, but that self-centered pursuit of redemption actively hurt his exorcisms and those around him. This adaptation of the character largely centered around Christian themes and religious iconography.
A Brief History of John Constantine
As Lawrence alluded to, there has been a lot at play for the character of Constantine in recent years, including the Abrams-backed Constantine project that was reportedly in the works with Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù starring as John Constantine. While John Constantine may not seem like a character that exists within the superhero-filled DC Universe, Constantine was first introduced in an issue of Swamp Thing back in 1985, and he has recently appeared in several DC-centric properties like Matt Ryan who took on the role in the short-lived NBC series before making the jump to The CW where he made numerous appearance in the Arrowverse, including a long stint on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Most recently, Jenna Coleman starred as Johanna Constantine, a female version of the character, in Neil Gaiman‘s newly renewed The Sandman series on Netflix.
It will be interesting to see where Lawrence, Goldsman, and Reeves take John Constantine when he finally returns to the silver screen.