The 15th Anniversary Of Constantine: An Underrated Cult Classic

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

Normally, this is the time of year when we’d be right in the middle of the San Diego Comic-Con. Some of the year’s biggest announcements about our favorite movies, TV shows, and comic books are made at this event. Unfortunately, due to the continued threat of the COVID-19 outbreak, the mega-convention couldn’t be held this year and I can’t say I blame them. Imagine it, thousands of sweaty, nerdy fans, decked out in their cosplay, in 90+ degree heat with 80% humidity, as they all walk around hacking and coughing a deadly virus on each other. Half of the attendees would be in the hospital by the end of the week. Not a pretty picture. 

     However, we weren’t completely left empty-handed, the folks behind the long running annual fan event, came up with  Comic-Con@Home, multiple panels were live streamed online for folks to enjoy a little bit of Comic-Con from the comfort and safety of their own home. Nothing beats the real Comic-Con experience, but they still put together some very interesting panels. One of the highlights, for me at least, was the Constantine 15th Anniversary Panel. Star Keanu Reeves, producer Akiva Goldman, and director Francis Lawrence discussed the 2005 film with one of writers from Collider. 

Constantine takes a trip to Hell

    I want to take a minute and to give the film some context. John Constantine is easily among my top 10 favorite comic book characters. He was created by legendary comic book writer Alan Moore during his Swamp Thing run for DC and the physical inspiration for Constantine was world famous musician, Sting. The character was enough of a standout to warrant his own series from DC under their mature readers imprint, Vertigo, called Hellblazer. Constantine was sort of a con-man mage based out of London. Writers like Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Brian Azzerello, and Warren Ellis have all done memorable work with the character, in fact Hellblazer was the longest running books in Vertigo’s history. 

Constantine is a little more high profile these days, appearing in both live-action and animated TV shows and films. Most notably, actor Matt Ryan has portrayed John Constantine in pretty much every appearance the character has made over the last 6 years. We first saw Ryan’s interpretation of the role in the short-lived (but cancelled too soon) Constantine TV series (2014-2015). Unlike Keanu Reeves, the British and blonde haired Matt Ryan is much more in line with the traditional depiction of John Constantine. But you can’t keep a good warlock down, and Matt Ryan reprised the role of John Constantine on Arrow and eventually became a series regular on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (these appearances retroactively made the Constantine TV series part of The Arrowverse). Ryan has also voiced the character in multiple animated films, like Justice League Dark and Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, as well as an animated miniseries. Much like Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as The Joker, Matt Ryan has become the unofficial, definitive version of John Constantine in the eyes of many fans.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

   Having said all that, I think 2005’s Constantine is an extremely underrated movie that deserves more credit than it gets. On paper this movie should not work. First of all, John Constantine is one of the best comic book characters ever created and holds a lot of reverence with fans. Does Keanu Reeves sound anything the character I described above? A British, street sorcerer that looks like Sting? At the time, casting Keanu Reeves in the title role seemed like a weird and misguided choice for the movie. That’s strike one. Producer, Alkiva Goldman, has had his name attached to some truly dog shit projects over the years, including Joel Schumacher’s infamous Batman & Robin. Strike two. Finally, this beloved character was in the hands of a first time film director, who predominantly directed music videos before this movie. Strike three! But goddammit if they don’t manage to pull it off. Not only did the movie work, it was pretty damn great.

Lucifer pays John a visit. The only Soul he’d come to personally collect himself.

   Despite the changes to the source material, especially the casting of Keanu Reeves and the film taking place in LA instead of London, the movie did a phenomenal job at capturing the essence of John Constantine and his world. Keanu was so good in the role that the superficial changes didn’t matter as much as you’d think. The spirit of the character was there. Reeves did a better job of inhabiting John Constantine than a lot of other actors in comic book films that seem perfectly cast from the jump. There are so many great, little moments throughout the film that show how Keanu Reeves and the filmmakers really get exactly who this guy is and what makes him tick. 

   The look of the film, the supporting cast, Peter Stormare as Lucifer, are just a few examples of what makes this movie an underrated gem. I definitely recommend checking out the full panel, which you can watch right here:

It sounds like Keanu is up for a sequel, which would be pretty cool. So what do you guys think? Is Constantine an underrated classic? Or am I nuts and it’s a piece of shit? Let me know in the comments below.

Constantine, Papa Midnite (Djimon Hounsou), and Chas (Shia LaBeouf)

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @PJWrightWBM or type Worlds Best Media into the search bar, you can also like and follow us on our Facebook page; World’s Best Media. Those likes and follows, as well as iTunes reviews, go a long way to supporting World’s Best Media. We really appreciate the loyalty and support shown to us by our fans, so thanks again! Stay healthy and stay safe!

-Paul

FALL 2018 COMIC BOOK PREVIEW: Part 1 (DC COMICS)! UPDATED!

Hey Everybody,

Paul here..

There are a lot of great comics hitting the stands this fall so I wanted to highlight some of the best books to look out for in my 2018 Fall Comic Book Preview! This’ll be a 2 or maybe 3-part series, with Part-1 focusing on DC COMICS and Part-2 focusing on MARVEL. Comic Books are an amazing storytelling medium and there are a lot of great jumping on points for new readers in the books featured here. So don’t be afraid to go to your local comic book store or ComiXology on your tablet to give these comics a try. You may be surprised how much you like what you’ll find. Without further ado, here are some of the DC COMICS to keep an eye out for…

BATMAN: DAMNED

Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Release Date: 9/19/18

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This 3-issue miniseries is part of DC’S new Black Label, using their most talented writers and artists to tell exciting and edgy stories without necessarily worrying about continuity. You’re going to see DC’s Black Label pop up more than once in this article because some of the most interesting upcoming stories are being published under that label, so stay tuned.

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Batman: Damned follows what happens after The Joker is killed and Batman himself may or may not have been the one to finally put an end to The Clown Prince of Crime. What follows is a story about Batman teaming up with John Constantine on a trip through the supernatural side of Gotham City.

AEA5A745-4D54-4F50-980E-85571451D346This is definitely a book to be very excited about. The prospect of Batman finally just offing The Joker is interesting enough on it’s own, but throwing John Constantine into the mix and a trip into the supernatural corners of the DC Universe makes this even more fun.

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The creative team of Azzarello and Bermejo have given us great stories like Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and Joker, which were both fantastic graphic novels. So make sure this at the top of your pull list when it hits shelves.
THE BATMAN WHO LAUGHS

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock
Release Date: November

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The Batman Who Laughs was arguably the breakout character from the Dark Nights: Metal event miniseries. He was a version of Bruce Wayne from an Earth where he finally killed The Joker. But at the moment of his death, The Joker’s released a gas concocted specifically to turn the person that killed him into the next Joker. Not only did The Joker win by finally getting Bruce to cross his (very, very blurry) moral line of not killing him, but the gas essentially turned Bruce into The Joker.
A Batman retaining all his knowledge, skills, and intelligence, but mixed with The Joker’s lack of empathy, sick psychopathic behavior, and evil was a true nightmare. This essentially made The Batman Who Laughs the apex predator of the Dark Multiverse. As The Batman Who Laughs, he was the most dangerous being on his world and systematically killed everyone and everything on his world in the most twisted way imaginable.

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By the end of Dark Nights: Metal, he was still in play and fans have been wondering when he’d rear his rictus grin again. This miniseries sees The Batman Who Laughs teaming up with another dark alternate reality Batman, who’s been described as Bruce’s second worst nightmare of what he could have become. This Batman got a hold of the gun the night his parents were killed and gunned down Joe Chill. He would grown up to become a gun toting, killing machine. Basically, Batman combined with The Punisher.

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I feel I should point out that Scott Snyder has probably been my favorite comic book writer for quite awhile now. I haven’t enjoyed some of his newer work as mush as say, his Batman run. However, Snyder re-teaming with Jock on a Batman story will be  something to behold. Their work on the modern classic Batman story The Black Mirror is one of the best Batman stories ever told. So, my excitement isn’t quite where it would normally be, but I’m still looking forward to this one. Not much else is known about this miniseries except that it will draw heavily from Snyder’s roots as a horror writer, with Snyder saying this book has some of the most twisted, terrifying stuff he’s ever written. With the characters involved and the creative team, it’s a must read when it comes out in November. I can’t wait to see what nightmares The Batman Who Laughs has in store for the DC Universe.

HEROES IN CRISIS

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Release Date: 9/26/18

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Tom King is fucking killing it lately. He first caught my attention with his incredible Vision miniseries over at Marvel. Now, King had the unenviable task of following Scott Snyder’s legendary Batman run when he took over the book with Batman Rebirth #1. But goddammit, King is giving Snyder a run for his money, where he’s crushing it on Batman right now.

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Interior art from then first issue featuring Harley Quinn and Booster Gold.

This new story HEROES IN CRISIS is a apparently a very personal project for King. Superheroes and the people around them, have to deal with some very fucked up situations. Not dealing with mental health issues like PTSD or the death of a loved one can be unhealthy and dangerous. Much like real life soldiers coming home from war and having to deal with challenges of having seen horrible things and what that does to a person’s psyche. As a former member of the CIA, King knows all about the challenges our soldiers coming home after war have to endure. In the DC Universe, heroes like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman have created a place where heroes and people in their community can get the help they need, in a facility called The Sanctuary.

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The story revolves around some unexpected deaths and unexpected killers at The Sanctuary. CRISIS is a loaded word in DC Comics, but this seems more like Identity Crisis than Final Crisis. Little bread crumbs and references to The Sanctuary have popped up in several DC books over the past few months. A good example being the original Wally West being sent to The Sanctuary at the end of Flash War after the emotional roller coaster he goes on in that story.  DC released these covers depicting iconic and traumatic  moments in DC comics history.  Supposedly incidents like this are the reason The Sanctuary was created. The idea is that The Sanctuary has been a part of the DCU for longer than readers have known, dealing with physical and psychological trauma these heroes has endured over the years.

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I’m really curious to see what King does with this story and I like the idea of a DC event being more of a psychological thriller than a multiverse ending mega crossover.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE/AQUAMAN: DROWNED EARTH

Writer: Scott Snyder/Dan Abnett/ James Tynion IV
Artist: Francis Manapul/Howard Porter/Fraser Erving/Jorge Medina
Release Date: 10/31/18

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This story will run through both Justice League and Aquaman, picking up story threads from each book. This 5-Part story involves the origins of Atlantis and introducing a new pantheon of gods into the DC Universe. It sounds like this story will highlight big changes to the mythology of Aquaman. Similar to the huge changes we’ve seen play out with The Flash and Green Lantern in Justice League, with concepts like “The Still Force” and the “Ultraviolet Spectrum” being introduced. Since Scott Snyder came onto the book, Justice League has been excellent, so at least the JL chapters of the story stand to be pretty good.

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The last time JL and Aquaman crossed over was in the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline and that was a great read. On the other hand, I don’t like crossovers where I’m required to pick up a series I don’t read (in this case, Aquaman) to follow the entire story. One the other hand I’m hearing some rumbling about some cool and interesting stories in Aquaman’s future, so this may be a good time to jump onto the book. So, this gets a cautiously optimistic thumbs up from me.

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THE GREEN LANTERN

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Release Date: 11/7/18

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Grant Morrison returning to write a monthly superhero book is something to be celebrated. His Green Lantern book will focus on Hal Jordan and really lean into the idea that the Green Lanterns are “space cops”. The book is supposed to have an almost police procedural feel to it. Hal is a cop working a beat, but his beat is the crazy alien worlds of deep space. Apparently Earth isn’t part of the story at all. This is solely Hal, doing Green Lantern, space cop work in the farthest reaches of the universe. With Grant Morrison writing and Liam Sharp drawing, that sounds fucking spectacular!

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*(Keep an eye out for more updates!)

Thanks for reading and make sure to check out Part 2 where I’ll be looking at MARVEL’s big comics coming out this fall!

-Paul