Neil Gaiman Teases Gender Swaps For Netflix’s The Sandman

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30 years after the comic book series first debuted and blew readers’ minds, DC’s The Sandman is finally making the leap to the screen. Last year, it was announced that the streaming giant was moving forward on a big budget TV show that would adapt Neil Gaiman’s seminal source material for live-action for the first time. And unlike all the other aborted movies and television adaptations there have been, this one genuinely seems to be 100% happening.

In fact, we’re suddenly spoiled for Sandman content as this month Audible is releasing the first chapter in its ongoing audio drama adaptation of the series, starring an A-List cast led by James McAvoy. While promoting the project via a virtual press roundtable, Gaiman explained that the Audible series will be highly faithful to the comics. In contrast, though, the Netflix show will be aiming to make some big changes.

“[B]ecause doing the Netflix TV series, we’re very much looking at that as going, ‘Okay, it is 2020, let’s say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do? How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?’

Clearly, Gaiman is not being too precious about his original comics and is keen to make sure that Netflix’s series is as contemporary and relevant to today’s world as possible, just as the comics served to reflect the world of the late-80s/early-90s. This echoes previous comments he’s made, too, in which he said he hoped to assemble a diverse writers room, including trans writers. Of course, the source material already features some trans and non-binary characters, but it seems that Gaiman will be putting extra thought into gender issues for the TV show.

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In this same chat with the press, Gaiman remarked upon the concept art he’s seen for the series so far that has blown him away. In fact, the things that can be achieved with today’s VFX is a big reason why he feels that now is the right time for a Sandman show.

“We couldn’t have done that, I think even five years ago, definitely not 10 years ago. The technology wasn’t there. The budget wasn’t there. The audience wasn’t there. The delivery systems weren’t there. The idea of going off and doing Preludes and Nocturnes and The Doll’s House as our first 10 episodes, nobody would’ve let us do that. The world wasn’t ready. So, it’s ready now. They caught up with us.”

As Gaiman says, The Sandman will kick off with a 10-episode first season adapting the first two volumes of the comic. No word yet on when it could hit Netflix, but in the meantime, the Audible adaptation arrives on July 15th.

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