The real reason we never got to see a Constantine sequel

Based on DC's Hellblazer comic series, Constantine hit theaters in February 2005, starring Keanu Reeves as John Constantine. The movie made some major changes—in the comics, John Constantine is a blond English guy who wears a brown trenchcoat and speaks with a thick Liverpool accent, whereas Reeves wore a black suit and spoke like Keanu Reeves.

However, casting wasn't the problem with the film; in fact, Reeves was arguably one of its better ingredients. What didn't work was the script, with scenes that were look-away-from-the-screen cheesy and a muddled plot. The character, the premise, and the production values were all solid, so the foundation for an entertaining sequel was still there—in fact, Constantine 2 held a lot of promise, and could have been the horror comic book movie some filmgoers have wanted for years. Alas, we'll probably never get a Constantine 2 starring Keanu Reeves, and here's why.

Keanu Reeves didn't want to do it at the time

After the original film was released, director Francis Lawrence said that he wanted to do a sequel, and in 2008, he was coming off a huge hit with I Am Legend, so he had a little extra leverage with the studio. In a 2008 interview, however, Reeves said he didn't want to do any sequels because there were no characters he wanted to go back and play again. (Perhaps at the time of the interview, he had just finished watching The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.)

Reeves has since changed his tune when it comes to sequels. In a 2014 Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, he said, "I love Constantine, too. I loved playing John Constantine. I wish there was a sequel. With me in it." In 2015, he told MTV, "I really enjoyed playing that character, I know it's not the John Constantine from the graphic novels, I know it's in a different flavor… but I liked playing that guy." However, ten years have gone by since the original film, so it might be tough to get the project going again.

The original movie wasn't a big enough success

For some studios, sequels are no-brainers. When Deadpool exploded into theaters after years of non-commitment from Fox, the previously-hesitant suits at the studio suddenly wanted a sequel like an addict wants another hit. However, Constantine wasn't that type of movie.

Much like Fox with Deadpool, Warner Bros. didn't have much confidence in the Hellblazer property. It was a long-running comics series, but it wasn't a household name. The movie was also rated R, which eliminated a lot of the audience that sees comic book movies, and perhaps partly as a result, Constantine wasn't a massive hit for the studio. On its opening weekend, it made just under $30 million, and through its entire run, it earned $230 million worldwide against a $100 million budget. While most of us would be happy with that type of return, for a movie studio those numbers aren't great for a comic book movie. Had Constantine made more money, the sequel would have probably been greenlit before it was even out of theaters.

The pitch didn't spark any interest

Constantine director Francis Lawrence has said he tried a few times to get a sequel off the ground, including a pitch developed around a draft written by the screenwriter of the original film, Frank A. Cappello. The plan for the sequel was to do a smaller film with a $35 million budget and make it a hard R, which sounds pretty awesome for a movie about an occult detective. Unfortunately, the suits didn't find it as interesting as Lawrence, and the studio passed.

As time went on, Keanu Reeves and Lawrence's schedules grew busier, so when the pitch failed, things just fizzled out for Constantine 2. Since then, Lawrence has kept busy directing the last three Hunger Game movies, while Reeves went back to avoiding sequels until he found another franchise with John Wick.

The Constantine television show wasn't successful

What's interesting about Constantine is that after the movie was released, the Hellblazer property didn't just lay dormant—it was made into a television series by NBC in 2014. The show offered a very different take on the material than the film: the star of the show, Matt Ryan, looks and talks like the John Constantine that was created by writer Alan Moore and drawn by artists Rick Veitch and John Totleben (who based the character on rock star and actor Sting).

The show got fairly positive reviews, especially compared to the movie, but it never really found an audience and was canceled after just 13 episodes. While there are plenty of reasons to explain why the show failed (like its horrible timeslot on Friday night), it's still a roadblock to Constantine 2. After all, a failed TV show based on the same property doesn't exactly instill confidence that Constantine 2 would be a big box office draw, especially because at this point the original film is over a decade old.

The Justice League Dark movie may lead to a reboot instead

One of the most exciting projects from the DC Extended Universe is the Justice League Dark movie. A team consisting of DC's more supernatural-orientated characters, it tackles problems that the normal Justice League wouldn't handle. John Constantine plays a large part on the team, and in the comics, he eventually becomes the leader of the group. If original director Guillermo del Toro (who has since dropped out) had stayed on the project, Reeves likely wouldn't have been considered; he wanted a blond Constantine.

As of August 2016, Doug Liman is set to direct the JLD movie and Michael Gilio is writing the script. How this will affect Reeves and Constantine 2 has yet to be seen, but it certainly does complicate the matter for several reasons. First off, Reeves says he wants to do Constantine 2, but is he willing to do the JLD movie as well? Would he be open to multiple JLD films should the first one be a success? What about multiple Constantine films built off the JLD movie? Producers will have to consider these questions when choosing their Constantine. Will they go with Reeves because he was the star in the original moderately successful movie over a decade ago? Or should they find someone new who wants to star in a multi-film franchise?

All things considered, we probably shouldn't expect a Constantine 2, but instead a reboot—sadly without Keanu Reeves in the role. Or Matt Ryan, for that matter: DC has been pretty strict about keeping their television and movie universes apart.