DC Comics officially revealed a pronoun filled cast list for Netflix’s upcoming The Sandman series that features what appears to be a female ancestor of John Constantine and a race-swapped Death.
The cast list features Doctor Who alum Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine.
The announcement comes shortly after a rumor from Giant Freakin Robot originally claimed that “Jenna Coleman is about to provide audiences with a version of DC sorcerer Constantine that they have not seen before.”
Specifically they claimed “that the actress will be playing a gender-swapped version of John Constantine in the upcoming Netflix series adaptation of The Sandman.”
However, Johanna Constantine is actually a character from Neil Gaiman’s original The Sandman series.
The character originally appeared in The Sandman #13 as an homage to Alan Moore’s John Constantine.
Jeff Sneider claims Johanna Constantine will be John’s great-great-great grandmother.
While Johanna is not specifically described as John Constantine’s great-great-great grandmother in her appearances in the comics, she is revealed to be a descendant in Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer.
Her entry reads, “An aristocrat, spy and adventure, Lady Johanna Constantine also lived during the 18th century. Perhaps her most famous escape came in 1794, when she was engaged by Morpheus to rescue the head of his son, Orpheus, from the clutches of Robespierre, one of the architects of the French Revolution (Sandman #29, “Thermidor”).”
It adds, “With help from Orpheus himself, Lady Johanna successfully accomplished her task, and, despite a lifetime of such dangerous exploits, lived to the ripe age of 99.”
Along with Johanna Constantine they announced that Cruella’s Kirby Howell-Baptiste is playing a race-swapped Death.
Death first appeared in The Sandman #8 and is very clearly a pale, white woman with black hair.
The rest of the cast includes Mason Alexander Park as Desire, Donna Preston as Despair, Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall, Joely Richardson as Ethel Cripps, Niamh Walsh as a young Ethel Cripps, David Thelis as John Dee aka Doctor Destiny, Kyora as a race-swapped Rose Walker, Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew The Raven, Stephen Fry as Gilbert, and Sandra James Young as a race-swapped Unity Kincaid.
These casting announcements shouldn’t come as a surprise as The Sandman creator Neil Gaiman promised the show would feature gender swaps and other changes.
During a virtual press roundtable back in 2020, Gaiman stated, “doing the Netflix TV series, we’re very much looking at that as going, ‘Okay, it is 2020, let’s say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do?”
He continued, “How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?”
Interestingly enough, Gaiman has critiqued major franchises in the past for straying away from the source material.
In a discussion on Twitter about The BBC’s The Watch, Gaiman stated, “Yes. But the fan base are fans. And they like the source material because it’s the source material they like. So if you do something else, you risk alienating the fans on a monumental scale. It’s not Batman if he’s now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Gaiman’s own criticism about changing the source material will come back to haunt him with the changes to the source material that Netflix is making to The Sandman.
What do you make of Netflix’s casting for The Sandman?