Keanu Reeves’ John Constantine is set to return to the screen in a Constantine sequel that was announced by Warner Bros. last week, over 15 years after Reeves first starred as the comic book character. This is great news for fans of The Matrix and John Wick actor, as well as those who were fans of the 2005 film, but it could be bad news for diversity following another recent decision the studio has made regarding the character.
As the Reeves-led Constantine movie was greenlit, Warner Bros. has decided to no longer move forward with the previously announced HBO Max Constantine series. The project that was announced in early 2021 was a reboot set to cast a “diverse lead,” per Deadline. As TV Line has confirmed with the streaming service, the series’ development has been axed, along with another series about Madame Xanadu.
Now, Keanu Reeves’ ethnicity is mixed race, including ancestry from Hawaii, China, Ireland and Portugal. However, the HBO Max series may have certainly placed a new or rising person of color in the role who’s yet to receive the opportunities of Reeves. Additionally, there was room there for the show to cast an openly bisexual actor in the role since the sorcerer has been part of the LGBTQ+ community in his other appearances over the years.
The Constantine series was being developed by J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Production company, which has now decided to develop the Keanu Reeves’ movie instead. Abrams was also previously set to make a Justice League Dark show for HBO Max as well, as announced in 2020, but for the moment, we no longer know if that’s still on track to happen either. Matt Ryan, who played John Constantine in the Arrowverse, shared his interest in reprising his role for Justice League Dark, but instead we're getting Reeves back in the role.
That’s not to say the Constantine sequel doesn’t have the ability to be a diverse project overall, and Keanu Reeves' casting has always been inspired. However, with news of Warner Bros choosing a bankable movie star over a perhaps more bold diverse HBO Max series, there’s a question as to whether the studio cares about opening the door for more representation in DC movies or if we’re stepping backwards into 2005?
For context in regard to this concern, Warner Bros recently axed its Batgirl film which starred an Afro-Latina Barbara Gordon (Leslie Grace) and also included a transgender character (Ivory Aquino’s Alysia Yeoh) and Moroccan directors, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. It was the studio’s most diverse high-profile film yet and it had already been filmed when Warner Bros decided to cancel any form of release.
Additionally, there were claims made by former employees of Warner Bros. that the studio recently fired a number of employees, notably people of color, leaving the HBO Max branch in particular “homogeneous.” While we’re excited for upcoming projects like Keanu Reeves’ return to John Constantine, we hope one of Hollywood’s biggest franchises, the DC Universe, will continue to make strides in expanding representation in an effort to better reflect on screen the world we live in.
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