NBC Straightwashes Its John Constantine


2005’s Constantine, directed by Francis Lewis, was essentially an excuse to watch Keanu Reeves smoulder on screen and Tilda Swinton rock a pair of post-modern angel wings. Constantine, which was based on Vertigo Comics’s Hellblazer series, was met with mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. The movie bore little resemblance to the source material other its characters’ names. John Constantine was no longer blonde, English, charming, or apparently bisexual the way he’d been on the pages of Hellblazer.

Late last year Deadline reported that NBC had greenlit a Constantine reboot for its fall lineup. As casting announcements were made and promotional footage released, fans of the comics were left wondering if this incarnation of the supernatural antihero would be truer to its roots.

M3ywffzyvmwu7jzedbenDaniel Cerone, executive producer for NBC’s Constantine, set the record straight this past Sunday at the Television Critics Association’s press junket. One of the more interesting things about the Hellblazer series was that its characters aged in real time over the book’s 30 year run. Bisexual as Constantine may have been, the bulk of his love interests were women.

“[T]here might have been one or two issues where he’s seen getting out of bed with a man.” Cerone explained, musing about future developments for the character. “So [maybe] 20 years from now? But there are no immediate plans.”

Unlike his love of cigarettes, Constantine’s sexuality was never exactly an ancillary aspect of his character. But it wasn’t something that the character himself, and his writers by extension, ever outright dismissed or retconned. Charlie Jane Anders of io9 agrees that the NBC’s decision to tone down Constantine’s smoking is a little more egregious, but felt as if the network definitely missed an opportunity:

I didn't mean to skate over this issue quite so glibly — blame deadlines and pre-Comic-Con phone calls. I do think erasing queer people from pop culture is a shitty thing to do, and we desperately need more pop culture that represents the whole range of human sexuality. And it really wouldn't have cost much for them to include an aside about ex-boyfriends along with ex-girlfriends. At the same time, to me the most important aspect of John Constantine is not who he fucks, but who he fucks over.  

A Pew study published last June reported that bisexually identified individuals composed the largest percentage of their survey sample that included gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transgendered people. Conversely, on average lesbians and gays reported being far more open with friends and family about their sexual orientation than their bisexual counterparts.

One of the major challenges to combating what many queer people have identified as “bi-invisibility,” is finding opportunities to introduce bisexuals into the popular conscious. Calls to action for compulsory comings out for bisexuals are neither moral nor realistic, but programming like Constantine has the potential to push that conversation in the right direction.

Check out the promo for the new Constantine AFTER THE JUMP



  1. jjose712 says

    Oh come on, it’s a Goyer production, if he was able to degay an historical character like Leonardo Da Vinci, a fictional character it’s no problem for him.

    Hopefully next time he will chose and straight character so there’s no need to degay anything

  2. Rick says

    Not everyone is interested in shoving non-heterosexual behavior down the viewing public’s throats. Get over it.

  3. Yup says

    The statement is true. The vast majority of his lovers were women, so why falsely alter the ratio? As for smoking on network TV? I’m fine with it. I don’t really need to see someone else smoking to feel better about not quitting.

  4. FakeName says

    It’s a David S. Goyer product and he already turned Leonardo da Vinci into a raging womanizer. How is anyone surprised?

  5. crispy says

    I gotta call BS on this story. (And it’s not shocking it originated from iO9, a Gawker blog, which never fails to write click-bait.)

    I read Hellblazer for about 10 years. John Constantine was not explicitly bisexual, but he’d use whatever means necessary to manipulate people.

    The character, like the Joker, has been written by numerous different writers, and they may not all agree on his sexuality. There’s no definitive answer.

  6. AdamK says

    This just isn’t going to work on network TV. They should have stuck to an all-British production like they did with Harry Potter. Constantine needs to be foul-mouthed, low-energy, and not particularly appealing. Just won’t work.

  7. petey says

    Liberals fear the idea of a man being able to swing both ways. However, they are OK with women doing it. This is called the bisexual double standard. It’s a form of liberal homophobia that is targeted at men and their sexuality.

    A lot of this phobia comes from women. Women fear male homosexuality that exists in men who are also attracted to women. It takes away her power to control men.

  8. Kevin says

    @Petey Wait, liberals fear bi guys? I think you need to check yourself. It’s the RWNJ’s who are on a constant witch hunt against anyone that’s non-heterosexual. Liberals, HA!

  9. bobbyjoe says

    Even recently, the comics have referenced Constantine’s bisexuality. It was a key plot point as recently as the “Forever Evil Blight” storyline that ran just a few months ago. So, no, it’s not just something that’s only appeared once or twice in the comics.

    The offensive straightwashing aside, they keep announcing all these moves that change so many things about Constantine, you wonder why they’re bothering to call it “Constantine.” I keep expecting to get an announcement any day now that now Constantine is a New York City police detective, and instead of being involved in magic, he investigates sex crimes with his wife, who works at a hospital, and his daughter, who’s both a lawyer and a gossip columnist.

  10. M. says

    So, no, it’s not just something that’s only appeared once or twice in the comics.

    References to Constantine’s bisexuality appeared only TWICE in the ORIGINAL HELLBLAZER SERIES. Namely issue #51, guest writer John Smith (curious name, but hey, might be legit) and issues 170-174, a 5 issues arc story by Brian Azzarello.

    The recent washed out, dumbed down, tamed Constantine series part of New 52 or whatever? Couldn’t read past issue #4. That’s not even half the shadow of the original Constantine. So don’t know what shenanigans the writers have been up to.

  11. Gridlock says

    You should see what they did with LOBO in the New 52. Turned him from a muscular killing badass into a sad thin emo clown (an Insane Clown Posse knockoff).

    Might as well just replace the character with SHERIFF LOBO and have him chase down Greg Evigan every comic.