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Constantine: Why we’re ready for a superhero who isn’t perfect

NBC’s Constantine promises to bring a different kind of hero to our TV screens and we think it’s about time.

Constantine, the smart-a**

Superheroes are supposed to be perfect, right? They are strong, usually have some sort of superhuman power (though not always) and are always there to set a good example and, of course, save people. But NBC is ready to bring a new kind of superhero to TV screens. His name is Constantine and he’s not perfect at all. In fact, he’s a little bit of a bad boy, and we like it.

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The cast and creators of the new NBC show were on hand at the Television Critics Association event held in Beverly Hills this week, and they discussed how they won’t be shying away from Constantine’s bad habits.

The show is based on the DC comic book series Hellblazer and is about a man who is a demon hunter and master of the occult. NBC’s official synopsis describes Constantine (who will be played by Matt Ryan) as guy who is “armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit.”

David S. Goyer, executive producer of the show, was always a fan of Constantine’s humor. “The thing I loved about Constantine is that he was always a smart-a**. He had a wicked sense of humor,” Goyer said, adding that the character was “just a regular bloke.”

Constantine’s dirty habits

The first fault that Constantine has — and probably the biggest — is that he’s a guy fighting against evil, but his own soul is already damned to Hell. He once wanted to give up the fight, but now he’s being dragged back in. It’s a dilemma that brought up an interesting question at the event: If Constantine is fighting evil in the hopes of redeeming his soul, isn’t he defeating the purpose by not fighting simply for the sake of good, rather than for personal benefit?

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It’s an issue they will be confronting on the show. “Should we be good to get an award, or be good to be good? We will be dealing with all of those kinds of questions,” Goyer said.

Another fault of Constantine’s that is featured heavily in the comics is his smoking habit. The creators said that it’s a characteristic that won’t be taken away from him in the TV series.

“He is a smoker in the show,” Goyer said. “We are not shying away from it, but we are not glorifying it.”

We need an imperfect hero

With all of his faults and imperfections, Constantine actually seems like the perfect superhero for modern television. Gone is the time when heroes had to be portrayed as people who never made a mistake. These days, viewers are aware that the people behind the masks are just that: people. They come with their own set of faults and we like it that way.

Portraying a superhero lead character as a man who’s made some major life mistakes, but is doing his best anyway, gives us regular folks someone to look up to. None of us are perfect and we don’t need our heroes to be either. So we say let Constantine curse and smoke. Let him walk the line between doing good for good’s sake or doing it for a reward. We want to see him falter, screw up and make things right. It’s a struggle we all live with, so why not see someone — even someone who is supposed to have superhuman qualities — go through those issues as well?

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But will he be bisexual?

Fans of the comic series will recall that Constantine was bisexual, but don’t expect him to start sleeping with men on the TV show. It was a question that came up at the panel as inquiring minds wanted to know how that aspect of his character would be handled.

“In those comic books, John Constantine aged in real time,” Executive producer Daniel Cerone said at the event. “Within this tome of three decades, 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.”

Are you ready for an imperfect hero? Do you plan to watch Constantine when it airs on NBC this fall?

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