NBC’s Constantine Casts New Female Lead; John Will Smoke But Definitely Won’t Be Bisexual
Definitely won't be on fire.
Fans of the character have had three major concerns with the upcoming show: as a network show, will it be allowed to incorporate John Constantine’s notorious smoking habit; whether the show will contain any trace of his canonical bisexuality, and what’s going on with the series’ secondary lead, recently removed from the show, with a planned replacement.
That last one is the easiest to answer: Angelica Celaya has joined the cast of the show as Zed, a character from the comics who already has her own ties to the occult community before she ever meets John Constantine. This stands in contrast to the pilot’s secondary lead, Liv, who was intended as a newcomer to the world of the supernatural, one who would develop a mentor/student relationship with Constantine himself. But once the time came to flesh out the series beyond the pilot, the writers say they found themselves “in a corner” of their own making, and decided to give their main lead more of an equal partner. From executive producer Daniel Cerone:
[Angelica Celaya’s Zed is] someone who can go toe-to-toe with John [Constantine], and that’s ultimately something we felt like we needed,” said executive producer Daniel Cerone of the new DC Comics character to be introduced early in the season. “We wanted a more dynamic relationship, as opposed to someone who is a teacher/mentor and a student. It just didn’t feel as fertile and rich of an area as just a strong a man and a strong woman who are both very different.
As for Constantine’s notorious smoking habit (famously, the character develops lung cancer and evades death and hell by cheating the devil out of his own soul), the production is making the effort to keep it in the series, even if network standards prevent them from ever actually showing John taking a puff. Yes, these are the same network standards that let all that crazy stuff in Hannibal happen, but a cigarette is too far. While previous reports said he would not smoke, the production explored a number of options to allude to the habit without him actually having it, from the patch, to nicotine gum, but ultimately, according to David Goyer, ” We thought [showing him] having to snub something out is more truthful.”
And it’s nice that that’s one aspect of the character the folks behind Constantine think is an important detail, but I sure wish that effort extended to the character’s canonical bisexuality. According to Cerone, smoking cigarettes is an important part of the character, but his sex life? Not so much.
I believe Constantine has a very healthy sex life, we’re not going to see that on TV… In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time. Within this tome of three decades [of comics] there might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man. So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.
It’s true: the comics which establish John as being attracted to men as well as women are few and far between. However, A) One does not have to sleep with equal numbers of men and women, nor must one have slept with one of both in any given time frame, to identify as bisexual. In fact, you don’t have to sleep with anybody at all in order to identify as a person who finds both men and women attractive. But additionally, B) Even if you don’t think there’s a strong case for the “canon” of Constantine being a bisexual man, it is still one of the options that are available to be included in his character in an adaptation, in the same way that Batman’s various costumes, or Superman’s various power levels are among the array of ideas that can be incorporated into a new version of the character. The creators of Constantine have decided not to go with that option, to go with the status quo instead of increasing the diversity of representation in the current TV landscape. And that’s disappointing.
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