The character of John Constantine (created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben) first appeared in an issue of “Swamp Thing” in June of 1985. He would go on to appear in a comic book called “Hellblazer,” a title that described his profession as a paranormal private investigator. For year, Constantine was a favorite of readers drawn to darker and more twisted fantasy stories. In 2005, director Francis Lawrence adapted “Hellblazer” to the big screen in the form of “Constantine” starring Keanu Reeves in the title role.
“Constantine” reworked the character slightly, making him into a freelance exorcist as well as P.I. In the film, Constantine is dealing with cancer, despite his constant hobnobbing with Archangel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton) and the snarling Lucifer (Peter Stormare). “Constantine” was only warmly received by critics, and it currently holds a 46% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It also opened to disappointing box office numbers, making less that $30 million against a $100 million budget. Eventually, “Constantine” would earn a great deal of money overseas, but at the end of 2005, Lawrence’s film would hardly be regarded at all.
In 2014, John Constantine would return in TV form, thanks to the series broadcast on NBC called, again, “Constantine.” In the show, co-created by comic book movie veteran David S. Goyer, the main character was played by Matt Ryan, and the series rolled more strongly with the original comic’s cynicism. Fans stayed away in droves, and the series was canceled after one season.
Despite a seeming indifference toward the character in the past, more and more “Constantine” fans have begun emerging in recent years to express their enthusiasm for Lawrence’s film, leading to rumors of a “Constantine 2” in the near future. Reeves, meanwhile, is merely awaiting an invitation to return. He’s game.
Keanu wants to do it
While John Constantine may still have a relatively small fanbase — or at least a fanbase that couldn’t buoy a film or a TV show to massive heights — affection for Keanu Reeves has only grown since 2005. Repeatedly, the actor has come out a relentlessly decent dude, often speaking about his love of cinema. Thanks to the success of “John Wick,” Reeves has remained a viable action star into his late 50s. That John Wick himself was motivated by something as relatable as the death of his beloved puppy (one gifted to him by his dead wife) speaks to a note of humanity in the character, even as he blows holes through rivals’ skulls. Despite his current level of success, Reeves’ many aficionados would only like to see him succeed more and more.
As such, Reeves is occasionally asked about the possibility of “Constantine 2,” a project he says he would like to be involved with. In an exchange on Reddit on March 4, 2023, the actor opened up an AMA, and a user immediately asked where another “Constantine” might come to be. John Constantine is owned by DC Comics, and the DC film division is currently undergoing a massive overhaul at the hands of James Gunn and Peter Safran. The overhaul means that any new DC Comics films may be back on the table. Reeves admitted on Reddit that he spoke to Gunn about returning to a new “Constantine” nearly 20 years later, and agreed that he would like to see it.
Figuring it out
James Gunn and Peter Safran clearly have a massive plan for the many DC Comics characters at their disposal and will be launching an entirely new slate of films, largely independent of the DC Comics films of the notoriously spotty Snyderverse and separate from the TV-based Arrowverse. A lot of information has been released about Gunn’s and Safran’s plans, although no films are, as of this writing, officially in production. With a clean slate, however, many are postulating reboots or new launches of older DC projects that might have been worthwhile, but didn’t find a larger-enough audience. “Constantine” has entered the chat.
In an interview with Looper, Keanu Reeves confirmed his interest in a “Constantine 2,” saying that Gunn and Safran are currently in a holding pattern. It seems, even though Reeves may be interested, there are no official plans yet. In Reeves’ words:
“I think they’re trying to figure out what to do with that. Hopefully I can reprise the role of John Constantine, but it remains to be seen. Yeah. But I hope so. I hope so.”
The news out of Gunn and Safran’s camp is awaited with baited breath. Many would like to know exactly what the future of Superman cinema will look like (mind you, a Superman feature film is already on the docket), and are eager to know if the notoriously silly Gunn (who also made the “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies) will have the temerity to bring in zanier DC character like, say, Detective Chimp. As for “Constantine,” he too is merely waiting in the lobby to see if he’ll be needed.