Constantine 2 director Francis Lawrence is campaigning for an R-rating, sources have confirmed.
The sequel, which reunites lead Keanu Reeves and Constatine screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, is bound for a Netflix release. To fully unleash the potential of the world of John Constatine, Lawrence feels the first film’s PG-13 rating is insufficient.
All I know is that Keanu and Akiva and I have been wanting to do it forever. We finally have been sort of given the permission to go ahead and do our version of Constantine because people are always saving him to be part of some shared universe thing or some TV thing or [whatever. And] now I think people realize that there might really be an appetite for another version of the Keanu Constantine.
Constantine 2 Expectations, and How Keanu Reeves’ version is distinct
The original theatrical release in 2005, which costarred Rachel Weiz, Tilda Swinton, and Djimon Hansou, was seen as a radical departure for a character who hails from England. Created by Alan Moore during his Saga of Swamp Thing run, John Constantine – aka Hellblazer – was a former punk rock star, a supernatural investigator, con man, and notorious chain-smoker. Keanu’s Americanized version took key elements of the character yet didn’t hit the right notes with much ofthe target audience. Reeves’ Constantine had the natural gift to see angels and demons, becoming a P.I. and exorcist to buy his way into heaven after trying to end his life, a cardinal sin, when he was a teenager. The subplot of his having terminal lung cancer as a consequence of his chain-smoking only serves to speed the clock to complete that bargaining chip.
This direction contradicted John’s comics origin: an inexperienced teenage Constantine recklessly opened a portal to Hell and an innocent girl was dragged there because of it. This experience led John down the path he’s walked ever since, chain-smoking and all. For Reeves’ version, Rotten Tomatoes currently rates the first film with 42% while its audience rating is 72%.
Matt Ryan has played a more faithful version of the character, first in a short-lived NBC series, then across the CW’s Arrowverse. Although he became a regular on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, the series still lacked the necessary levels of darkness to compliment John’s world. Ryan has also voiced the character on Justice League Dark, Justice League Apokalips War, and Constantine: House of Mystery.
Following the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery, filmmaker J.J. Abrams was relieved of his contract to develop a new Constantine series. A female version of the character – Johanna Constantine, played by Doctor Who and Victoria star Jenna Coleman – recently appeared in the Netflix Sandman series.
Getting back to the sequel, Lawrence elaborated:
One of the biggest things for me about the first one was we followed, per Warner Bros., the rules to make a PG-13 movie in terms of violence, blood, language, sexuality. The ratings board gave us a hard R based on the gray zone of intensity. My big, big regret was that we have an R-rated movie that’s really a PG-13 [movie. The] idea is this time, at least for me, is to really go at it and make a real R-rated Constantine which is, I think, what people always wanted originally, not the PG-13 version that just happens to get an R.
Lawrence also hopes to tap into Constantine’s sardonic sense of humor more so than in the original film. It’s been over a decade since the Keanu version of Constantine was released, and a lot can happen in that time.
There’s no release date scheduled at this time.