At New York Comic Con, we were treated to an opportunity to sit down with a man who is no stranger to the DC Universe, David S. Goyer. Mr. Goyer is now serving as writer producer on NBC’s Constantine, the latest show based on DC Comics characters to hit the airwaves. And make no mistake, like Arrow and The Flash, there are more characters from the comics that may be joining DC’s greatest man of magic.
Here’s what Mr. Goyer had to say about Constantine, future characters, and the matter of John Constantine’s most dangerous habit. Some of his answers could be considered spoilers for Constantine season one, so read on with care!
Tell us about Jim Corrigan (the character who will become The Spectre). What can we expect from the character?
He shows up in episode five, I think. There may be a nod to his eventual future in that episode. Corrigan is returning in episode twelve, so he’s already a recurring character in the show. We have to see if the show catches on in a few weeks…we’re not going full Spectre yet, it’s a possibility, not first season.
In the pilot we see Dr. Fate’s helmet. Is that just a tease or is that going to be something more?
The intention is that there’s a story behind it. We have an initial order for thirteen with hopefully a back order for nine. The plan is that hopefully, someone shows up to claim that helmet.
So as Mr. Dc Universe, tell us, where does Constantine stand in the map of DC television?
In the map of DC television, he is in his own occult neighborhood. So if it’s an occult DC character, we have access to those characters. We’ve got another character fans will know showing up in episode ten from the occult DC Universe.
Does Swamp Thing fall into that category?
He could be on the show, the question is, should he be on the show? The question is could we pull off that level of VFX makeup without looking cheesy. We’ll see.
Have the higher ups given you a list of character you could put on the show or have you gone to them with a character you want to put on the show?
We actually said, ‘Who can’t we have?’ For a variety of reasons, there’s some people we can’t have, but we can have most of them.
If you can have one character in Constantine, who would it be?
It would be interesting to add…I would love to see Etrigan. If we could do a season two and if we could throw a ton of money ar VFX, we would do it.
How does Constantine fit in with Guillermo Del Toro’s Justice League Dark?
There has been a decision to develop movies and TV separately and simultaneously so it is possible that some Justice League Dark characters will be showing up here.
There has recently been a switch of actresses from Lucy Griffiths to Angelica Celaya. What does that mean for the show?
It’s just not as unusual as you might think. In this case, we finished the pilot and the reason the Liv character wasn’t introduced because at the time she wasn’t part of the comic. NBC felt that an audience would be uncomfortable without a character with an occult view as sort of an entry point. We finished the pilots…and we always thought about bringing in the Zed character.
As we were breaking stories, we found that it would be interesting if we introduced a person who was part of the occult world that could go toe to toe with John. We batted that around a couple of weeks and we went back to NBC and told them we think we want to make a change, we want to bring in a new character and they said OK. It was our decision; they didn’t foist it upon us. We didn’t recast Liv. Lucy did a perfectly fine job. Her story ends after the first episode.
Is there a particular storyline from the comic books you want to bring to the series?
We hope to be able to adapt quite a few of them. The first season sort of loosely adapts “American Gothic.” But having said that, in the first season we adapted- a couple of issues from the (Jamie) Delano run, I think an issue from Garth Ennis, some of the longer storylines from later on we will do in the second or third season.
Does that interest you, to adapt a comic directly to TV?
Sure, we’ve also created our own episodes, but, it’s so interesting, we work hand in hand with DC Comics, and there’s over three hundred issues, I don’t think anyone read them all. Sometimes you forget, sometimes you say, ‘I’m thinking of doing a story about X,’ and someone at DC will say, ‘Oh, we did that story,’ and sometimes we re-engineer a story to fit with original comic book. Some of the best creators in the business worked on that, continue to work on it, so we draw on that.
What are some differences in process between adapting comics to film and television?
Well, it’s more liberating in that you can bring characters back…it’s unusual do more than one of something. In TV you can do Jim Corrigan and come back a few episodes later and do another glimpse. Characters can grow and change. In a couple of instances already actors have come that we really liked and have surprised us so we built that character up. You can do that less in film.
Has there been an attempt to take a particular image or panel or concepts from the comics?
To a certain extent. We are inspired by all sorts of things. We’re inspired by the covers, we’re inspired by images, we’re inspired by panels…there’s all sorts of things in John Constantine’s lair, there are dozens of them, things you’ll find in the DC Universe like the Dr. Fate’s helmet, Eclipso’s Black Diamond is in there. All the time the crew are sneaking things in.
What did you think of the film Constantine?
It helps that there is more audience recognition than the comic books.
How do you feel about how the character is portrayed in the graphic novels, how do you adapt a character known for immorality, has there been resistance from the network?
Watch the first six episodes, he’s a dick! He’s a big asshole. We did not water that down, he is a fucking asshole. That’s what I always love about John. I’ve written some of the hero heroes, and John is not that. He’s not a hero. He lies and he cheats and he’ll kick people in the balls. He drinks too much and he sleeps around, none of that has been changed on the show, he’s a dick.
He’s putting out stubs all the time, lighting up, if we go long enough we’ll do the Dangerous Habits storyline.
David Goyer, thank you very much.