Sometimes things are surprisingly mundane when it comes to screen adaptation.
The casting of Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine in Netflix's 'The Sandman' is definitely among the things that sparked controversy around the upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman's beloved graphic novel. Some would blast the series for being "woke", others would claim gender-swap, while the rest tried to clear things up and convince the critics that John and Johanna are actually two different characters.
But the real reason behind 'The Sandman' going for Johanna Constantine instead of her admittedly more popular descendant John is surprisingly simple: the economy of filmmaking.
Speaking to Slashfilm, series author Neil Gaiman explained that the "swap" was done in order to make it easier for viewers to get into 'The Sandman', because John Constantine was written in the comics when Gaiman had in mind the idea that the readers were familiar with the character. When it comes to the screen adaptation, Gaiman wanted to make sure that even the viewers without prior knowledge of the characters would feel comfortable.
Besides, he added that the change was helpful in terms of creative control and distancing from the previous screen adaptations that had John Constantine in them — such as the iconic movie starring Keanu Reeves or the TV show with Matt Ryan rocking the beige trench coat.
"When we looked at what we were going to do in this whole series, we knew that we were going to have Lady Johanna Constantine meeting Dream in a pub. And if we're going to do that and we want a really classy actress to portray her, then we're going to have to give that actress more to do than just meet him once in a pub. Given that there really weren't many women in the beginning, the idea that we could find one person and have them do both, just seemed nice and straightforward," the series screenwriter Allan Heinberg further explained to Slashfilm.
The creators' explanation comes amid a slew of critical social media takes on the upcoming show, with even the people barely familiar with 'The Sandman' universe blasting the series for "going woke" due to the color-blind and inclusive casting. Among the casting decisions that seem to irritate some people are Gwendoline Christie portraying Lucifer, the ruler of hell, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste playing Death.
Against all odds and occasional criticism, 'The Sandman' premieres on Netflix on August 5.