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Here's Why The Sandman Season 1 Includes So Many DC Easter Eggs

Contains minor spoilers for "Sandman" Season 1

Much like the strangest dreams, "The Sandman" has taken a long, winding road to live-action. There were a number of unsuccessful attempts to make a "Sandman" movie over the years, with a variety of different ideas on how to adapt Neil Gaiman's sprawling universe. The writer has previously opened up about some of these scripts, calling William Farmer's 1996 attempt "not only the worst Sandman script I've ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I've ever read," (via Rotten Tomatoes). In fact, an early draft would've reportedly transformed Morpheus into a raving killer who gets put in the hospital, while also turning both Lucifer and the Corinthian into the Dream Lord's brothers. Obviously, all this is a huge step away from the source material.

All this is to say that it's a minor miracle that a proper adaptation of "The Sandman," much less one so faithful to the source material, has actually made it into the world. So, fans will be pleased to see that the series, which stars Tom Sturridge as Dream of the Endless, wholly embraces the comics and doesn't shy away from some of the weirdest aspects of Gaiman's truly unique world of metaphysical gods and monsters.

That faithfulness also extends to something many may not realize — that the first volume of "The Sandman," in fact, was closely tied to the DC Universe. In the Netflix series, eagle-eyed viewers will spot a number of surprising DC references, and this is because the show is wholly committed to staying as close to the comics as possible.

The Sandman comics originally took place in the DC Universe

When "The Sandman" first swirled its way onto shelves back in 1988, it actually took place alongside the main DC Universe, so much so that Morpheus crossed paths with some iconic characters from the Justice League and beyond. This is because it was published by Vertigo, a DC Comics imprint which allows creators to explore other stories away from the typical adventures involving Caped Crusaders and Men of Steel. For example, Morpheus meets John Constantine in "The Sandman" #3, before asking for help from Martian Manhunter and Mister Miracle in "The Sandman" # 5, while Batman and Superman later cameo in "The Sandman" #71.

In fact, even the terrifying antagonist John Dee (played in the series by David Thewlis) was a reimagined version of Doctor Destiny, a Justice League foe who first appeared in the 1960s. However, as Morpheus' story evolved, the series moved away from crossovers with DC characters, to the point where many forget that Sandman is technically a DC property.

In 2021, Gaiman opened up about the DC crossovers on Tumblr. The acclaimed author explained, "It was my desire to do it (often to the bafflement of Dave McKean) not DC's request, as I loved getting to work in the fabric of the DC Universe [...] As Sandman went along it seemed naturally to drift away from the DC Universe into one that looked a lot more like ours."

So, this is why fans can spot DC Easter eggs scattered across the Netflix series. Whether it's Johanna Constantine's origin or the toy versions of Batman, The Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman in Jed Walker's dreams, the Netflix series is very aware of how to handle "The Sandman" and its connections to the wider DC universe.