John Constantine: the Wings and Spears of a Parallel Universe

When talking about fantasy, Francis Lawrence’s stunning film “Constantine” comes to mind. Keanu Reeves in the role of the “executioner” and a knight of justice, made more than one generation fall in love with the nexus of horror, mysticism, and the real-unreal world of gods and demons. In a confrontation with the world of hell and heaven, the strongest will win, or the one who, making a bad bargain, will leave his soul to be torn to pieces by the soldiers of the underworld. The fiery story of the redemption fighter, John Constantine, reveals a parallel world where the struggle between angels and demons continues, unnoticed by us.

The plot reveals the existence of a parallel world where angels and demons fight for souls and maintain a balance of good and evil. Among them, John Constantine, an exorcist with supernatural powers, removes the latter. The hero himself is struggling with a terrible disease – last stage lung cancer and without any conditions, is willing to live. In early childhood, John had gifts. He saw the guests “from outside” and heard extraneous voices.

During the film, we learn that he has been subjected to harsh treatment. After all, he decides on suicide and spends a couple of minutes in hell, from where he is gifted a second chance to live. Having bet with the Lords of Darkness, he vows to cast out rot and demons from humankind. But he has been on the edge of death. Subsequently, he meets with Angela (Rachel Weisz), a police detective who has lost her twin sister, who committed suicide by jumping from the roof of a psychiatric clinic, writing only one name in her final minute: “Constantine”. Angela was sure that the sister could not have hurt herself.



One day, Angela comes to Constantine and asks him to help her find the cause of Isabelle’s death. She decides to go to a spiritualistic session in hell. Together, they begin an investigation, after which they find out the peculiarity of their meeting and what they will have to sacrifice for Angela’s truth and for John to prolong his life. Angela should become a medium for the son of Lucifer Mammon. Angela, like her twin sister, also has also seen demons and spirits since early childhood. But she rejects the gift, leaving her sister alone. Now, she is facing an internal battle with Lucifer to prevent Mammon from entering Earth, and not allow him to create his Kingdom. Mammon, the son of the Devil, has used Angela`s body as a medium to make a transition from the underworld to the living one. Firstly, Angela comes to Constantine to ask him for help to move Isabelle from Hell to Heaven. Making that happen means instant death for John, like selling his own soul for the girl’s.

Tilda Swinton in the movie Constantine
Tilda Swinton in the movie Constantine

I won`t reveal the whole plot, since some of us have not yet seen the film. But let’s take a closer look at who will appear in the role of demonic and angelic powers. Tilda Swinton plays the role of the angel Gabrielle, actor Peter Stormare is Lucifer, and Rossdale plays the half-demon, Balthasar. By the way, the more beautiful a person is on the outside, the more the demons within acquire real significance – the actor is so handsome, and yet a monster. Shaman Midnite is played by Djimon Hounsou, twice Oscar nominee for the drama “Blood Diamond” and the semi-autobiography “In America” about the life of Irish immigrants. As you can see, the plot is star-studded. What can I say?  If we recall the comic book with which it all began, the prototype of John Constantine was based on the British singer Sting, and I’ll tell about this now.


Where did John Constantine Come from?

Today, of course, Keanu Reeves is widely associated with the character of John Constantine. A fine mane of hair, courageous facial features, expressive eyes, a perfect nose – a charismatic guy has spoken to the audience for decades. And since 1988, he is the protagonist of the comic books about Constantine, “Lords of Darkness” – and the creators of the hero Alan Mule, Steve Dillon, Jamie Delano, and other artists, as well as the scriptwriters who have worked on the image of Constantine for a long time. At first, the man was an ordinary person whose aging process could not advance. In 1988, thirty-five-year-old John appeared before the public. By 2013, he was sixty. The scriptwriters decided to rejuvenate the character.


The Comic Book Character John Constantine

John Constantine was born of the imagination of the creators of comics. But he became a hero a little later. In his backstory, his mother died during the birth of a twin brother. His father drank too much, leaving John to his sister. According to the legend, they lived in Liverpool in the second half of the last century. Constantine was fond of occultism and magic. The universe with ghosts, spirits, and demons eclipsed his present, transferring the boy from suffering to the fascinating world of the inexplicable. In the seventies, he traveled a lot, studying witchcraft rituals. He began to smoke a lot, became a punk rocker, and released an album with his musical group. He practiced magic from the stage, predicted the future, and did magic tricks.  He investigated becoming a musician.

The first thing John does causes irreparable psychological damage: through his fault, the innocent girl, Astra, falls into hell.  The hero is guilt-burdened until, one day, he manages to rescue the soul of a child from captivity. John raises the son of a Mafioso.

In 1985, a man gets acquainted with the Swamp Thing, which subsequently becomes Constantine’s patron. Smoking causes lung cancer. Death from illness portends terrible torment in hell. A man sells his soul to the Lords of Hell so that it does not fall into the hands of his great enemy – Lucifer.  A struggle ensues between God and Lucifer for Constantine, and thanks to divine providence, he recovers.


Where Else do We See John Constantine?

In 2011, the Justice League comics appear for the first time. Here, Constantine’s life is somewhat changed – his mother is alive, and his sister doesn’t exist.

In 2013, the director Guillermo del Toro plans to create a project in which the Constantine character will confront the Swamp creature on behalf of the Dark Justice League.  But the project stalls at the development stage.

In 2017, a cartoon called “The Dark Universe”, in which Constantine is voiced by the actor Matt Ryan, appears for the first time. Ryan had played the hero in the earlier series, released in 2014. The director of the project is Neil Marshall. The series has 13 episodes. The hero appears in the series “Arrow”, where he helps to return the soul of Sarah Lance. There is a character in the series “Legends of Tomorrow”, where he becomes a permanent protagonist. Here, too, Matt Ryan plays the part. The cartoon – called “Constantine” – is released for the “NBC” network and consists of several ten-minute episodes.

Photos: MovieStillsDB

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