Neil Gaiman explains why the Netflix adaptation of Sandman forgoes the comic book’s characters and connections to the larger DC Universe.
Neil Gaiman, the author of The Sandman, explains why the series doesn’t make any allusions to the greater DC Universe. The Sandman is a classic comic book that was first released in 1989 under DC’s mature label Vertigo. Over the years, many have tried to adapt the plot for the big screen.
The Sandman has finally made its Netflix debut, and while it tries to remain true to the source material, there are some adjustments made in terms of how it relates to the DC Universe.
DC figures including John Constantine, Martian Manhunter, and Justice League villain Doctor Destiny made appearances in the early issues of The Sandman. Many of these characters are excluded from the series. Johanna Constantine, a brand-new character in the show played by Jenna Coleman, and Doctor Destiny, played by David Thewlis, who plays John Dee but differs from his comic book counterpart, both make appearances.
Many people were interested in the alterations and questioned whether they were related to the fact that The Sandman aired on Netflix as opposed to HBO Max or the CW, where all the other DC programmes are broadcast.
The real reason, according to Gaiman in an interview with Variety, was an effort to align The Sandman with the comics’ narrative arc, which as the book advanced had fewer allusions to and connections to the DC Universe.
Gaiman further said that it was done so that viewers wouldn’t anticipate the appearance of the Justice League or feel that they needed to catch up on another series in order to appreciate The Sandman. Check out what he said below:
‘The Sandman’ itself started out in the DC Universe, the comic, and then it just sort of wound up wandering off into its own place. Its world joined up more and more with our world and became less and less a world in which costumed crime fighters fly around and so on, which meant that by the time ‘The Sandman’ finished, it had its own aesthetic which really wasn’t the DC Universe anymore. We didn’t want a TV show where you felt that you had to have read a whole bunch of comics published in 1988 and 1989 to understand what was going on.”
The portrayal of Lucifer best illustrates The Sandman’s attempt to stand on its own. Instead of Tom Ellis, who portrayed Lucifer in the popular series of the same name that was broadcast on Fox and Netflix, Gwendoline Christie plays the role in the new series.
In Crisis on Infinite Earths, that variation of the character also made an appearance as a part of the DC multiverse. Although this new series doesn’t seem to be related to Lucifer, it is an adaptation of the comic book that was a spin-off of The Sandman.
Ellis had the option of playing Lucifer again in The Sandman, but the show opted for a more faithful adaptation of the comic.
It’s possible that Gaiman decided against using John Constantine in The Sandman because the character has already established himself on the show Legends of Tomorrow and because a J.J. Abrams-produced HBO Max series is in the works.
However, with the cancellation of Batgirl and David Zaslav’s new 10-year strategy for the future of the DC brand, the status of that project and numerous other DC projects is uncertain.