Legends of Tomorrow returns to our screens after a mid season break with a familiar face joining the team to take on a demonic threat, John Constantine. This isn’t the first time that Constantine has appeared in the CW’s DC Universe, but just who *is* John Constantine?
John Constantine was created by the renowned writer Alan Moore, and first appeared in 1984 in issue #25 of The Saga of Swamp Thing where he acted as a supernatural advisor for the titular Swamp Thing. Whilst the character didn’t quite look like the Constantine that would become iconic, it was later retroactively said to be the character.
Despite appearing in a number of other titles over the next few years, including Crisis on Infinite Earths, it wasn’t until 1988 that Constantine would receive his own book, Hellblazer. It was here that Constantine took on his iconic of a dishevelled suit, trench coat, and cigarette.
A sorcerer and occult detective, Constantine regularly found himself fighting demons, spirits, and the forces of evil. Over the years Constantine would come into contact with other heroes such as Zatana, Shade, and Swamp Thing, whilst also coming into contact with God, and the Anti-Christ.
Because Constantine was part of the Vertigo imprint he rarely interacted with the DC Universe as a whole, and it wasn’t until the New 52 relaunch in 2011 that he became a fixture of the main books, staring as one of the lead characters in Justice League Dark.
Despite being relegated to the Vertigo imprint for many years Constantine became a firm favourite among readers for his quick wits, sarcastic sense of humour, and for being an openly bisexual hero.
In 2005 Warner Bros. Pictures released a live action film based upon the character, Constantine. Starring Keanu Reeves in the titular role, and directed by Francis Lawrence, the film altered a lot of the characters back story, changing Constantine from an English sorcerer to an American with a natural ability to see demons.
The film also changed Constantine’s iconic look, and gave the character different mystical artifacts and spells. Whilst the film was received fairly well by the general public it was panned by fans of the source material, who felt that it was too much of a departure from the comics.
With comic book shows gaining popularity John Constantine made a surprise appearance on the small screen with the launch of his own series in 2014 on the network NBC. Taking more inspiration from the comics, Constantine starred British actor Matt Ryan as the titular hero. Whilst Reeves Constantine looked nothing like his comic book counterpart, Matt Ryan’s version looks like he stepped straight out of the page. His iconic trench coat and blond hair were back.
The new Constantine series focused heavily on Johns mission to save people from the forces of darkness as he travelled across America with his friends and allies, battling ghosts, demons, and other sorcerers.
Despite being well received by fans NBC made the decision to cancel the series after just 13 episodes.
Realising that the recent Constantine series had been popular amongst comic book fans the CW were quick to cash in on the cancellation of the series, casting Matt Ryan in an episode of Arrow to reprise the role.
This episode was more than just a nod to fans of the Constantine series, however, and effectively made the events of the cancelled series a part of the larger CW Universe, something that the network would do again following the cancellation of the Supergirl series.
With John Constantine now firmly a part of the CW DC Universe he is not only reappearing in Legends of Tomorrow, but will be getting his own animated series as part of CW Seed later in 2018.