Matt Ryan has made the role of John Constantine his own across several unconnected incarnations of live action and animation, and is now gunning for another: the presumably central character in the upcoming Justice League Dark series.
The TV show, currently being developed for HBO by J.J. Abrams, follows the exploits of a group who deal with supernatural threats that the more famous superteam is ill-equipped to handle. With Constantine as the leader, its line up has, in the comics, included the likes of Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Black Orchid, the Phantom Stranger and Madame Xanadu, with many others coming and going over the years.
This isn’t the first time a live-action outing for the team has been mooted, of course, with Guillermo del Toro spending several years working on an adaptation, and I’m still bitterly disappointed we’ll never see such a vision brought to life. Speaking to Den of Geek, Ryan shared his thoughts from that time about the prospect of being replaced, saying:
“I find a lot of the time they don’t use the same actors in the TV show as the movie. Now sometimes that’s understandable. It’s all about tone and audience, all these different factors. But when that movie was gonna go ahead, I called my agent. I said, ‘Listen, I know that they probably won’t use the TV actor in the movie.’ But I said, ‘All I would like is just get me in the room because I’m not a TV actor, I’m an actor’… Then if they don’t want me for the role that’s their choice. But I would be very disappointed if a project like that went ahead without even sitting down and seeing what I could do with the material.”
The fact that Ryan is evidently so protective of Constantine’s portrayal speaks volumes of his passion for the character, and his desire to see justice done to the Scouse mage indicates that it’s not just another job for him.
Although there’s not exactly a great deal of competition, nobody would argue that Ryan is now the definitive on-screen Constantine, so to cast someone else in Justice League Dark would only serve to invite unwelcome comparisons. The best course of action for HBO then would be to offer the role to the man who has already categorically proved how well he can handle it.