Despite Constantine (2005) being released during the start of the golden age of the comic book movie and proving to be a financial success, the film also managed to slip through the cracks with critics and audiences somewhat at the time. Thankfully, though, over the interceding fifteen years, many people have come to the conclusion that I share. Constantine is an underrated flick that deserves the reputation its garnered since its initial release. Admittedly, this adaptation might not be the most faithful to its source material when it comes to its titular hero’s physical appearance, but that doesn’t get in the movie’s way. Since Constantine hit theaters a decade-and-a-half ago, I’ve seen it ten times or more and have enjoyed it every time.
Some other people who still enjoy this flick and its evolution are a trio of the critical folks who made the picture. Hence, Comic-Con@Home held a reunion panel moderated by Collider editor-in-chief Steven Weintraub on which he’s joined Constantine director Francis Lawrence, producer Akiva Goldsman, and John Constantine himself, Keanu Reeves! Now, there’s no way this reunion panel could be as informative as say, a retrospective documentary. However, there’s still some fascinating film history here.
The conversation begins with Goldsman explaining that the movie was slated to star Nicolas Cage and be directed by Tarsem Singh. Ultimately though, that iteration of the project fell through. But the second try was the charm when Reeves and Lawrence were approached for the movie. Reeves admits he was not familiar with the comic book but loved the script. However, the actor was initially hesitant to portray a blond-haired Englishman. But, the darker aspects of the character and Lawrence’s vision of the adaptation convinced the leading man to take the role.
Interestingly, the director notes that his vision for the film was influenced by film noir above anything else. (At which point, I was dumbstruck by the fact and ashamed to admit I’d never put that together.) Another concept conceived by Lawrence was It was Lawrence’s idea to design a Hellish version of the world. Whereas, in the original script, there was merely a traditional version of Hell.
The final portion of this reunion is devoted to a significant change that was made to the film. It’s revealed that Michelle Monaghan originally had a significant role in the first cut of the film and that her character was in a relationship with Constantine. However, the filmmakers ultimately felt Constantine functioned better in the story as a loner. Lawrence and Goldman also mention that it took a 25-minute sizzle reel is what ignited enthusiasm at Warner Bros. Before that, Lawrence says the film was essentially off the studio’s radar. In the end, WB was happy enough with Constantine but is weary of green-lighting a sequel due to the religious content, which can be dicey for audiences. I, myself, would love to see a sequel. Alas, since a second installment is unlikely, I’ll rewatch Constantine. On the off-chance you haven’t seen Constantine, now’s the perfect time to rectify that!
Constantine is Available on Digital HD, Blu-Ray & DVD!