The spectacular success of The Sandman on Netflix has been a boon to comics followers in a 12 months stuffed with them. It was notable in its formal distancing from the DC Universe — to which it technically belongs — to be able to give its personal mythology room to breathe. That helped it stand out to a public well-versed in superhero storytelling however much less aware of The Sandman’s darkish fairy story proclivities.
The formulation proved profitable earlier than, nevertheless it was lengthy sufficient in the past that its roots should be hidden. 2005’s Constantine posited an analogous world of angels and devils amid a pop-culture panorama equally stuffed with conventional superheroes. It grew to become successful on the field workplace, regardless of some pointed departures from the comedian e-book model of the character. The latest announcement of a sequel within the works was absolutely prompted by The Sandman’s success, however the first Constantine confirmed what was doable lengthy earlier than The Dreaming reached Netflix.
The Sandman — each the comics and the Netflix adaptation — attracts closely from traditional works of literature, notably epic fantasy similar to Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost. That most notably includes a go to to Hell in Season 1, Episode 4, “A Hope in Hell,” the place Morpheus video games with Lucifer himself for the return of considered one of his artifacts. That comes atop pagan pre-Christian figures similar to The Fates — drawn from Greek mythology and numerous different cultures — in addition to unique creations like The Endless, patterned on conventional mythic tropes. The present even features a variation of Constantine.
It’s confirmed as haunting and hypnotic because the comics on which it is based mostly. It’s additionally notable in its refusal to step close to extra conventional superhero tales. With the Marvel Cinematic Universe roaring proper alongside, and DC’s numerous initiatives incomes the incorrect sorts of headlines currently, The Sandman’s distinctive universe feels all of the extra like a breath of recent air.
Constantine did a lot the identical factor in 2005, with the X-Men and Spider-Man franchises in full swing and Batman Begins on the brink of reboot the Caped Crusader later that 12 months. And but, like The Sandman, it sticks firmly to a variation of Christian mythology, because the Spear of Destiny reappears and Constantine finds himself within the midst of a cosmic plot to launch Armageddon with it. However, whereas it largely adheres to Old Testament tropes, it additionally supplies room from a wider universe of mythic creatures, similar to a wand that shoots dragon’s breath and Casablanca-fashion bar run by Papa Midnight, who adheres to a unique type of religion.
And it labored in a interval the place tights and capes had been norms in cinemas. Like The Sandman, its imaginative and prescient proved a compelling departure from enterprise as common. That’s in maintaining not solely with the determine from the comics — created as a part of DC’s Swamp Thing and ultimately turning into a staple of its “adult” Vertigo line — but in addition with The Sandman’s subsequent storyline drawn from the identical period.
It has held up towards the chances, with a faithful cult following regardless of its beauty variations from the comics and a sequel now in improvement that guarantees to attach it extra formally to the DC Extended Universe. That longevity has equally knowledgeable The Sandman, a collection that waited over 30 years for an adaptation and loved the fruits of its persistence accordingly. In its personal quiet means, Constantine supplied proof of idea, and the sequel is lastly having fun with a reward of its personal.