Constantine might be a little older and perhaps a little nearer to death when he makes his eagerly anticipated comeback on the big screen. But Constantine will still be himself.
Francis Lawrence discussed the artistic route he plans to go for his untitled follow-up to 2005's Constantine in an interview with The Wrap to promote his family picture Slumberland for Netflix. The film will once again star Keanu Reeves in the titular character.
In an interview that was released on November 14, Lawrence made a suggestion that the next sequel, for which there is currently no estimated release date, will completely embrace the artistic freedom that R-ratings now permit while maintaining the first movie's sombre tone. Lawrence told the publication, "All I know is that Keanu, [screenwriter] Akiva [Goldsman], and I have always wanted to do it.
"People are always saving him to be part of some shared universe thing or some TV thing or whatever," Lawrence added. "We now have sort of been given the authority to go ahead and make our version of Constantine."
Conflicting marching orders over the 2005 movie's graphic material, the director continued, was one difficulty. Even though Warner Bros. studio's Constantine was given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA, there were still some restrictions. Lawrence said that despite their best efforts and having the MPAA's approval, this ultimately held the movie back.
Now it appears like Constantine will make an actual R-rated film appearance in Constantine 2 (or whatever the film's title will be).
In terms of violence, blood, profanity, and sexuality, Lawrence remarked, "One of the main things for me about the first one was that we followed, per Warner Bros., the rules to make a PG-13 movie." But due to their... murky zone of intensity, the ratings board handed us a harsh R. And my biggest regret is that the film we have is actually PG-13 rather than R-rated. And if I had to have an R, I would have actually produced an R-rated film.
"I would have made it considerably darker and more brutal, and I would have actually done an R-rated movie," Lawrence continued.
The exorcist and magician John Constantine, who appeared in over 300 issues of the DC/Vertigo comic book series Hellblazer, lives in a more sinister area of the DC Universe than most typical superheroes do. The character was recently portrayed in live-action as a part of the DC television series "Arrowverse" on The CW, with British actor Matt Ryan donning the iconic necktie and raincoat.
The 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves as an American Constantine roaming Los Angeles was praised for conforming to the depressing tone and atmosphere of DC's Hellblazer novels, whereas Matt Ryan played a comics-accurate Constantine, who physically resembles blonde singer Sting and works in London. Over time, Constantine has only gained popularity, notably due to Reeves' continuous prominence. Lawrence said, "And now I think people realise that there might truly be a thirst for another Keanu Constantine."
Lawrence acknowledged being aware of the criticisms levelled at Constantine in an interview with Inverse from last year. I am aware of the criticisms, he said. Even if that was what helped the movie find its tribe, he noted that the tone might have been too grim.
"Though it's hardly a romp, it ought to be funnier. Lawrence told Inverse that it needs more of John Constantine's sharp, sardonic, and cynical humour. It became mired in magical jargon that no one really cares about. Stories sometimes fall flat when attempting to create a realistic-seeming environment. Therefore, I would create a more relatable and visceral version of the world.
When asked why there hasn't been a sequel to the cult classic Constantine in the 17 years after its publication, Lawrence told The Wrap that "all of the hysteria with DC" has subsided. Although it is unclear if James Gunn, who is currently co-chair of DC Studios with Peter Safran, will be in charge of the project.
Lawrence stated, "We have the beginnings of ideas and dedication. "Keanu and I had been teasing each other about doing it for a time. Just that we have now overcome the obstacle and can move forward and actually achieve it. We must now simply put on our work boots and get started. However, we have several ideas.
The Constantine sequel has no set release date.