How DC Can Learn From Marvel’s TV Approach to Save Constantine

It must be the holiday season, because fans of the super hero television genre are hoping for some new toys to be hidden under their trees. After a highly-rated guest appearance on the CW network‘s Arrow, John Constantine is enjoying a resurgence of fan interest. In the week since the network aired Haunted, which featured a team-up between Constantine and Team Arrow, fans of the occult investigator have launched a petition calling for his regular return to their screens. Given that the episode was one of the highest-rated of the season with an audience of 2.6 million, DC Entertainment would be well-advised to give it a second look.

The problem emerges when one tries to determine where Constantine would be a good fit. NBC is highly unlikely to revive the show, when an audience of 3 million wasn’t enough to save the series from cancellation. There is obviously an audience and demand for further adventures of the cagey Brit, but what is the best fit?

The answer may lay in the Disney/Marvel approach.

Netflix Logo

A Younger Platform for a More Mature Show

While family-friendly shows like Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter have found homes on traditional television in ABC, Marvel Studios wisely realized that there was room to expand its offerings for a more mature audience. Last year’s Daredevil series, hailed by many as the best comic book TV show of all time, arrived in one massive explosion via online streaming service Netflix. The series carried a Mature Audiences label and made full use of the added latitude, providing brutal action sequences such as the brilliant corridor gauntlet and the full-bore gore of the infamous car-door scene.

One of the harshest criticism of the NBC version of Constantine was that it’s insistence on adhering to broadcast network standards neutered the character, robbing him of his foul mouth and signature smoking. A Netflix version would permit the character to retain these aspects, luring back members of the comic fan base who felt snubbed by the gentling of their beloved character.

The Benefits of Binging


Source: Slate
Source: Slate

One of the biggest problems the NBC Constantine faced was it’s time slot. Despite the shift in network perspectives with regards to ratings in the age of the DVR and On-Demand, the Friday time-slot was seen from the outset as a death knell for the newborn series. A single-dump release a la Daredevil, House of Cards, or any other Netflix original program would allow audiences to consume the show in its entirety at their convenience. This approach would negate the attrition which helped bring Constantine down. Studies have shown that audiences prefer a mix of binge-watching and live-watching, but also that they prefer binging or streaming to watching live television. We live in the age of instant access, when television audiences expect to be able to consume content on their timetable, not that dictated by networks and their sponsors.

In short, its unlikely that a major network will risk resurrecting Constantine after its failure to launch at NBC. If DC Entertainment believes in the character, they would be best served exploring both a more mature approach and an online delivery.


Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!



Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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