The addition of John Constantine as a regular cast member to Legends of Tomorrow was an inspired choice, incorporating magic into its setting and adding a further facet to a premise already primed for as much lunacy as possible. However, the most recent season’s prominent use of hell has created a fundamental issue with his backstory.
Possibly the most significant moment of Constantine’s history – in each of Legends, his own TV show and the original Hellblazer comics – was his failure to save Astra from hell and his subsequent inability to rescue her from the accidental damnation, sparking the nihilistic self-loathing that informs a major aspect of his character. The notion of escaping from hell isn’t something you would consider a possibility, which is why it was treated as such a momentous occurrence when late in season 4 he first travelled there in order rescue Ray, and prior to that ended up breaking the entire timeline in his attempts to save former lover Desmond from his fate in the Pit.
The narrative decisions of season 5 have made traveling to and from the underworld as straightforward as the Waverider crashing into any period in history, so the previous barriers formed by being unable to do so now make no sense. Why wasn’t 20 years of angst preemptively done away with if it would have been this easy to just open a portal, grab a girl who hell had no rightful hold over in the first place, and jump back?
It’s not even something that can be hand-waved by Constantine’s greatly increased experience in the years since the botched exorcism, as creating portals to hell is seen as being so straightforward that even the comically incompetent Gary is shown to be capable of pulling it off without losing a limb or setting himself on fire.
There so far hasn’t been any justification given as to why jaunts down below have become as multitudinous as the different ways to refer to the place that I’ve used throughout this article, which makes it all the more baffling. Given the preponderance of unquantifiably advanced sci-fi technology now at Constantine’s disposal, it wouldn’t have been out of place for him to infuse some futuristic doohickey with his arcane talents to create a portal generator to the underworld.
It’s a natural state of affairs for shows that go on long enough to adjust established canon as they progress, but when major changes are made, they need to come up with explanations, and the fact that Legends of Tomorrow has left such a fundamental alteration unaddressed is more than a little frustrating.