With all the different versions of the character on TV in the past few years, it's a great time to be a fan of Constantine. With Matt Ryan—who was born to take on this role—playing Constantine first on NBC's canceled series, then resurrecting him once more in live action on The CW's Arrowverse leading up to his series regular gig on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow before starring in his very own animated series on CW Seed, there are enough different, yet equally accurate, portrayals out there for everyone to pick a favorite. But with the Constantine: City of Demons full-length movie now available, for my money, there’s now a clear winner out of all of them.
When the first five episodes of the CW Seed series debuted, I extolled the virtues of having Constantine spread his wings (er, trench coat) in animation in order to achieve the iconic character's full potential. But thanks to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment releasing the complete story as a movie, including an hour of never before seen footage, and giving it a proper ending, the character is able to come off as more badass than ever before…as well as more cursed.
The continuity still doesn't quite line up with the current Arrowverse (although perhaps that will be explained on Legends of Tomorrow later this season), but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the consequences from Constantine's actions during his mission to save Chas' daughter reverberate through the rest of Ryan's time portraying this character.
Without spoiling the ending, Constantine's constant reckless spell casting and underestimating the dark arts finally catches up to him in a way that will be a big payoff for longtime fans of the magician in any medium. Magic always has a price, and Constantine finally pays the toll as the film comes full circle with the original canon in a surprising and satisfying way.
But with the incredibly heartbreaking ending (warning: some tears will be shed), the usually selfish, self-hating and sardonic character also finally gets the redemption for which he's been searching for so long. It's a moment fans likely never thought would come, and the immense relief that arrives in the big final battle as Constantine makes the choice he's never been able to make before is the closure the character needed to move on creatively.
Constantine: City of Demons effectively shuts the door on a lot of the classic Constantine mythology, which might sound scary to some fans. But now this character and franchise can start a new chapter, with fresh trauma to haunt the demonologist rather than the Newcastle drama that’s hovered over him since his HELLBLAZER series first debuted back in 1988.
Taking full advantage of its longer format, Constantine: City of Demons actually works better as a single movie instead of chopped up as a serialized story. The action and emotion flow seamlessly to the point where you can't even figure out where one episode ended and another began. It just feels right this way, which makes sense since its writer, J.M. DeMatteis, has made clear it was actually written as a movie rather than an episodic series.
Though perhaps the biggest change from watching City of Demons as a movie is how much darker and mature the content has become. Is it just me or did some new, more edgy imagery get added to it, in addition to all of the new story? That old Hollywood demon party certainly took on new levels of psychological horror that definitely didn't stream on CW Seed. And when Constantine literally screws Los Angeles (yes, the actual city), things get pretty R-rated. It makes sense for the character and the source material, but it's easy to see why this story works best in animation as it takes full advantage of the medium.
Where the character goes from here is anyone's guess. Will Legends of Tomorrow nod to where Constantine: City of Demons left off? Will Constantine be brought to animated life once more in more CW Seed episodes or another straight-to-DVD film?
Or can we get a spinoff film with a tap-dancing Constantine like the demon Nergal pitched to a producer? Did that ever get a deal anywhere? Because it sounds like an absolute hit.
Constantine: City of Demons – The Movie is now available in Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital HD.