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James Gunn's DC Slate Might Blaze The Way For Constantine's Big Future

The first slate of movies in James Gunn and Peter Safran's the DC Universe reboot gives fans plenty of fat to chew. This is a good thing, because that's all we're going to do for a while, seeing as we won't be seeing any of their announcements hit the big screen until 2025. 

The "Gods and Monsters" chapter of the DCU hedges its bets between huge A-list superheroes and lesser-known characters, and even dips its toes in the DC Comics imprints pool with a movie adaptation of WildStorm's "The Authority." However, if you know your comics, you might notice that there's one name that's conspicuously missing from the announcements -– a name that's nevertheless extremely connected to many of the properties Gunn and Safran have in the works.

John Constantine has seen his share of adaptations over the years, but for a character who famously excels at synchronicity, the Laughing Magician has managed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for much of his live-action adventures. Keanu Reeves' 2005 "Constantine" is neat, but reimagines the character almost beyond recognizability. Matt Ryan's significantly more comics-accurate take got a season of his own show before moving in the Arrowverse, and ultimately finding a home in the "Legends of Tomorrow" ensemble cast. To top it off, let's not forget the fan-favorite female version of the character, Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), who just debuted in 2022's Netflix series "The Sandman."  

This is not a bad run, per se, but DC's resident ruffled con man has potential for so much more than that. Fortunately, there are signs that the DCU might be making low key preparations to unleash the character's full potential.

The Swamp Thing movie can introduce Constantine in the DCU

One of the more interesting Gunn-Safran movie announcements is "Swamp Thing." With a couple of 1980s movies and a one-season 2019 TV show under his belt, the titular character's live-action achievements are decidedly in the John Constantine category. However, the two characters have far more than that in common. Looper has already pointed out that the DCU "Swamp Thing" should adapt the comic's classic Alan Moore run, and as it happens, said run serves as Constantine's first appearance in the comics. After a successful debut in the "Saga of the Swamp Thing" series, the magician moved on to his own, lengthy "Hellblazer" run on DC's Vertigo imprint. After that wrapped up, he got a soft reboot that sanded off some of his roughest edges, and the end result started bedeviling other prominent DC characters whenever he wasn't off having his own adventures.

With the announcement of the "Swamp Thing" movie, Gunn and Safran now have the opportunity to bring one of DC's most unique characters in the DCU fold. What's more, noted comics fan Gunn is likely well aware that they have the chance to bring Constantine in via the exact same trajectory that worked so well in the comics. First, introduce him as a major supporting "Swamp Thing" character. Then have him branch out on his own, and before you know it, he's trading barbs with Batman. 

Obviously, Constantine's name hasn't been mentioned yet, so nothing's certain when it comes to him. Still, don't be surprised if Swamp Thing turns out to be the second most important character in his own movie.

Constantine has the potential to become the DCU's version of Nick Fury

Introducing John Constantine in the DCU could potentially be far more than just a "hey, look, this cool character is here, too" flex. Because of his lengthy path on DC's Vertigo imprint and main comics universe, Constantine has interacted with a ton of other characters, including a frankly suspicious number of the ones Gunn just announced. Apart from Swamp Thing, the comic book Constantine has dealt with the Creature Commandos, Superman, Batman, Booster Gold ... well, you get the idea.

Sure, it could be just a coincidence that Gunn and Safran's announcements have a giant Constantine-shaped hole in the middle. Still, his introduction in the mix would make all kinds of sense, because DC's favorite hedge magician could easily become the DCU equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as the character who connects all corners of the shared universe. Apart from his solo adventures and own team-ups — say, Justice League Dark or the Trenchcoat Brigade from "The Books of Magic" — he's been rubbing shoulders with the big guns for so long that there's no corner of the DCU he couldn't potentially show up in.

So, what about the Keanu Reeves version?

All this Constantine talk is fine and dandy, but before the DCU can consider any real Hellblazing, it needs to figure out what to do with the John Wick-sized obstacle on the way. After years and years of rights issues, "Constantine 2" is coming, and Keanu Reeves is back on board as the Americanized take on the iconic magician.

This isn't necessarily a problem, though. While navigating around "Constantine 2" might seem tricky, this is actually the best possible time to do so ... because of Batman. The DCU is juggling four different Batmen -– Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton's "The Flash" appearances, Robert Pattinson in Matt Reeves' "The Batman" movies, and the upcoming "The Brave and the Bold" one. Surely, there's room for two interpretations of Constantine, as well? Like Pattinson's Batman, Reeves' Constantine could be an Elseworlds-style character who exists outside the DCU, leaving a more traditional incarnation of the character free to debut in "Swamp Thing." 

Then again, while we're speculating, why not look into the other approach? Why not simply bring Reeves' Constantine in the DCU proper?

Keanu Reeves' Constantine would work well in the DCU

If there indeed are plans to make Constantine a focal point of the DCU, using the Keanu version would make a surprising amount of sense. Mr. Reeves is bigger than he's ever been. He's also roughly the same age now as Samuel L. Jackson was when he began his stint as Nick Fury, so he could readily portray a grizzled semi-mentor figure who keeps turning up in peoples' shows and movies. It doesn't hurt that "Constantine" has become a cult classic, so while his version of the character is far removed from the original, it's hard to see too many people complaining if the DCU runs with this approach. 

Let's not forget that Reeves has been eyeing superhero roles for ages. In 2021, Reeves even met Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige to discuss the subject. Given Constantine's stature, the actor may realize that he had the perfect superhero role in his résumé all along — and now that he's finally able to return to it, he might be willing to settle in for the long haul. He's not exactly opposed to elaborate movie franchises, after all. 

The rights to Constantine's character still seem to be messy, judging by Deadline's report that J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot, Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road Pictures, and Warner Bros. Pictures are all involved in the "Constantine 2" project. Even so, the powers that be might very well be willing to move the Earth and skies if that's what it takes to get a star of Reeves' caliber in a central — and, likely, highly lucrative for all involved — role in the DCU.

And hey, while they're at it, maybe they can bring in Peter Stormare's uniquely slimy Lucifer, as well. That guy ruled.