The film Constantine was released in early 2005 to a moderately receptive audience. Based on the lesser-known DC Comics series Hellblazer, it told the story of a desperately dishevelled necromancer fighting a lonely war against the forces of hell. Though the film Constantine has gained a fair amount of respect over the years, there is still one question that hounds the film like a possessed bulldog. Why in God’s name would you cast Keanu Reeves as John Constantine?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Keanu Reeves. From the original Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to his cameo as Johnny Silverhand in the videogame Cyberpunk 2077, it is always wonderful to see Keanu in his element. I even consider myself a fan of the 2005 Constantine, though that’s more for Peter Stormare than anything. With news of Keanu revisiting his portrayal of John Constantine, it’s worth going over some reasons that connecting him to the DCEU would be a very bad idea.
The Constantine Attitude
There is no question, Keanu Reeves can act with attitude. The problem with his depiction of John Constantine was that he chose the wrong kind of attitude. Keanu played John as an angry, nihilistic, and damaged man struggling with his own mortality. While this isn’t entirely off the mark, it misses the charming nuances that make Constantine such a lovable rascal in the Hellblazer comics. A truer portrayal of John Constantine’s personality should land somewhere between Eddie Munson (Stranger Things), and Bojack Horseman.
The Constantine Accent
One of the first things that any fan of the Hellblazer comic series will complain about the 2005 film adaptation is that Keanu Reeves is not even remotely British (and thank God he didn’t try to fake it). The comic book character has always been portrayed as a British national. While this might seem like a small thing, Constantine’s nationality is more than a footnote, it is a major piece of his personality. Every page of dialogue In the comics oozes with English slang and that special brand of British swagger that you can only get if you grew up in the slums of Liverpool.
The Constantine Look
I can not imagine what Keanu Reeves might look like with blond hair, or maybe I just don’t want to. The John Constantine of the Hellblazer comics was modelled after the legendary musician Sting (specifically as he appeared in Quadrophenia) whose hair, much like his albums, is a glistening shade of platinum. That’s not to say that Constantine couldn’t be played by someone without his trademark golden mane, given they have the appropriate attitude, but if they truly want to pay homage to the source material then they should at least pick someone with a decent dye job.
If Not Keanu, Then Who?
The dark depths of the internet have come up with more than a few worthy candidates to play John Constantine should Warner Brothers choose to include its dark universe in the DCEU. Some of the more notable names that have popped up on the message boards include Paul Bettany, Colin Farrell, Guy Pearce, and even Idris Elba. And of course there is a devoted cohort who still demand justice for Matt Ryan’s excellent portrayal. While every one of these brits could easily play the character perfectly, it would be even more interesting to see the studio choose a fresh face. Don’t forget, nobody knew who Henry Cavill was before he was chosen to be in Man of Steel.
Who do you think should take up the mantle of Hellblazer?
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