Constantine: City of Demons is finally available on CW Seed, and star Matt Ryan, along with writer J.M. DeMatteis and producer Peter Gilardi, introduced the first five episodes at WonderCon, Saturday to an appreciative audience of Ryan’s fans and Constantine cosplayers.
“Each time I thought this character was dead for me,” said Ryan, who first played the magician and con-artist in NBC’s 2015 Constantine live action series and later returned to the part on Arrow and most recently on Legends of Tomorrow. “I keep coming back [and] it’s a different challenge at each point. Arrow, Justice League Dark and this and what’s to come.”
What’s the come is Ryan joining the cast of Legends on a permanent basis should it be picked up for a fourth year. But whether voicing the characters or suiting up before the camera, Ryan said playing the part is always an attempt to “ground the character in the story we’re telling at that time” even as “the DNA [of the character] stays the same.”
In City of Demons, John and his best pal Chas (voiced by Damien O’Hare) fly to Los Angeles to save Chas’s daughter from a demon hoping to set up his own hellish franchise in the City of Angeles. The plot adapts the 2005 storyline “All His Engines” by Mike Carey and Leonardo Manco. “We used it as a foundation to break out into a larger story,” DeMatteis said. “In the novel, he’s helping Chas — and there it’s his granddaughter — but the stakes are higher on a personal level than in the graphic novel. The notes [we received] were always ‘let’s make this deeper.’ There are whole plot lines here that didn’t happen in the graphic novel.”
“What I really liked about it is that it really dives into Constantine’s character and puts him into a terrible position,” he added.
Unlike the previous CW Seed DC animated series — Vixen and Freedom Fighters: The Ray — City of Demons amps up the level of gore and horror. As Gilardi put it, “a pool full of rotting bodies isn’t going to happen in a Bugs Bunny cartoon anytime soon.” But that change in tone was one of the major reason to bring Constantine into the animated stable. “We’re [also] huge fans of the character and what Matt did with it.” Asked if the series ties into the other CW Seed series and, by extension, the Arrowverse, Gilardi said that while the program has some links with the DC Animated original movie Justice League Dark — in which Ryan also voiced Constantine — the intent was to make it a stand alone project. Though, he admitted, “If we do more, it will launch its own thing.”
In the first five episodes, evidence of that larger world appears when Constantine summons the Nightmare Nurse, a character DeMatteis created and sheepishly admitted, “I get a little residual for that.”
Since City of Demons was the first part of Ryan’s return to the character, he said he was in the midst of a major re-read of Hellblazer and later Constantine-centered series, but added “my favorite is still Dangerous Habits.” And since reading the stories again is part of his prep for a long-term stay on Legends, he added, “What I think is going to be interesting about Legends is seeing how John interacts with those characters. He’s not really a team player.”
The first five episodes of Constantine: City of Demons are available now on CW Seed.