Perhaps the world best knows the character of John Constantine as he was played in a middling 2005 horror-thriller by Keanu Reeves–a chain-smoking American born with dark hair and the power to see angels and demons–but the die-hard fans of the cult DC/Vertigo character have a very different interpretation of what is perhaps comics’ greatest anti-hero.
It’s that interpretation–of an Alan Moore-created Sting-lookalike down-on-his-luck Londoner who taught himself enough magic to operate in a supernatural world–that’s at the core of NBC’s television adaptation of Constantine. Here, Welsh actor Matt Ryan wears Constantine’s rumpled tan trenchcoat, smokes his Silk Cut cigarettes, and struts about in his loosened tie, performing exorcisms and–if the trailer is any indication–making a handful of friends and a whole lot of powerful enemies.
The trailer declares that the show is “based on the DC Comic Hellblazer,” which is an interesting choice of words: From 1988-2013, DC (mostly under its Vertigo imprint) published the adventures of John Constantine under that name as a “mature readers” title; late last year, they canceled Hellblazer and replaced it with a toned-down version of the character in a series titled Constantine. Whether the credit is just to reach the largest group of people who may be familiar with the character, or if it signals that the television show will follow Hellblazer‘s darker tone remains to be seen, but the trailer suggests that John Constantine’s many fans will have a version of the character they recognize as their own to watch–no Keanu needed.