TCA Interview: David Goyer on ‘Constantine’

Constantine NBC

Today was the NBC portion of Television Critics Association panels, including their new “Constantine” television show. During the panel David S. Goyer answered my question about whether they ever considered calling the show “Hellblazer.” They felt naming the show after the character was more welcoming to viewers, and because the New 52 series are named as such.

The panel also announced the casting of Angelica Celaya as Zed and Goyer revealed he once had a letter published in a John Constantine issue of Swamp Thing comics. After the panel we went up to Goyer for further questions with the press. He wouldn’t talk about the DC movies he’s working on, but we tried.

CraveOnline: We’ve heard a lot of names for your DC movies, but nothing about Supergirl. Are you thinking about her at all?

David Goyer: Oh, I can’t talk about anything non Constantine related today. I’m sorry.

Could alcohol take any of the place of smoking, like maybe he gets liver disease instead of cancer?

Well, we’ve already shown in the pilot that he’s a heavy, heavy drinker so it’s quite possible, yes. Look, I will say that John is a character in the comic books, and we’ve stayed truthful to that in the show, he has a lot of addictions. He’s a very addictive personality. He drinks a lot. In the comic books he smokes a lot. He’s clearly addicted to danger and so that is an aspect of his character that we definitely want to explore and the thing with a lot of addictions is it has a high cost.

That’s something that the Dangerous Habits storyline explored obviously in the film and in the comic books, so at a certain point if we’re lucky enough that is something we’d like to explore in the show as well.

Is there a thought you could launch a number of supernatural properties from Constantine?

Yes, we have said that. The intention is that we’ve got DC’s occult universe open to us and the fact that we had Doctor Fate’s helmet in the pilot is a clear indication that we’re going to be doing that. We’re introducing another character from the DC universe within the first eight or nine episodes as well.

In a major way or just a cameo?

In a recurring way, and we’ll see where it goes but it’s not just characters from Hellblazer. The occult world is open to us.

Does the fact that you might want to use a character in a movie have any bearing on the show?

I think there’s been a decision that it’s okay to cross promote these characters, that the audience can take it.

Could the actors move between TV and film?

That to me feels like a huge headache but I guess we’ll see what happens.

NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said he couldn’t announce Angelica Celaya this morning. When was her deal signed?

Obviously between the time Bob said that and now.

What is making comic books so right for TV right now?

I’m not the first person to say this, I’ve long said that comic books are sort of the modern equivalent of our Greek myths. It’s also kind of what the farm team is for baseball. You can beta test all of these concepts but you’re dealing with these outsized characters and these outsized themes. Part of it is also that the technology is catching up. Even the stuff that we did in “Constantine” might not have been possible 10 years ago. I’m just fortunate that the stuff that I’m interested in happens to be big with the audiences right now.

Why do you think you’re the DC guy?

I have done Marvel. Blade was Marvel.

But you’ve had a special understanding of DC to do the ones you’ve handled.

I don’t know. When I was a kid I read many more Marvel comics than I did DC and as I got older in high school and then in college I started reading more DC. I’m not sure why. I mean, like begets like to a certain extent and Geoff Johns is one of my best friends and we hang out all the time and I’ve written DC comics. At a certain point it just felt like that was the more comfortable universe to play in.

Comic books are serialized. Does that make them fit TV better?

Well, I’d like to think that I’ve adapted them for movies fairly well but I think that they can lend themselves to TV. We haven’t seen a lot of comic book shows in recent memory. There’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” last year, but one of the things that’s kind of nice about TV is you can tell more serialized storytelling. Our show is both episodic and serialized, so that’s kind of exciting because the comic books are in some ways, one can argue it lends itself to that medium a bit more.

What are the dangers of too many comic book shows?

We’ll saturate the market? I mean, I guess that’s always possible. The thing I think sets us apart from some of the other shows is he’s not a costumed superhero. He’s not a vigilante. He doesn’t have any super powers. Comic books aren’t just about guys with tights. American Splendor was based on a comic book. Road to Perdition was based on a comic book. Ghost World was based on a comic book. Persepolis was based on a comic book. This is another genre. It’s not a superhero genre. It’s a horror genre, it’s a suspense genre.

What problems have led other comic book shows to go off the rails, like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” got off to a bumpy start?

I can’t really speak to that. I can just speak to what I do myself. I just try to, as much as possible, stay true to the core DNA of the characters. That’s always been my approach and that’s what I’ve done with Daniel with “Constantine” and with Batman and Superhero.