In a rare turn of events, Matt Ryan will reprise his titular character from NBC’s canceled “Constantine” on CW’s “Arrow,” and making it happen was every bit as tricky as you might think.
“We always planned to explore mysticism and magic this season [on ‘Arrow’], and we have obviously been huge fans of Constantine as a character and the series, so we really felt we had this opportunity… it just sort of all came together,” showrunner Wendy Mericle told TheWrap. “I’d say it was a combination of some planning on our part and a lot of good luck and serendipity on getting Constantine.”
The mysticism and magic on “Arrow” this season has stemmed from the arrival of Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), the season’s big villain who openly dabbles in the dark arts.
Further enveloping Team Arrow in the world of magic is the return of the Lazarus Pit, which was used — perhaps misguidedly — to bring back Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) from the dead.
Unfortunately, Sara came back to life without her soul, so enter Constantine, who will attempt to help rectify that situation.
Below, Mericle discusses honoring the Constantine of the canceled NBC show, spills some scoop on the upcoming crossover with “The Flash,” and teases when the show will return to the big death hinted at in the season premiere.
Constantine’s appearance on “Arrow” right now seems very serendipitous. How much of that was planning and how much of it was luck?
Wendy Mericle: We always planned to explore mysticism and magic this season on the show, and we have obviously been huge fans of Constantine as a character and the series, so we really felt we had this opportunity when we had this storyline where we needed to have Sara have her soul restored. It just seemed like he was the perfect DC character, Matt Ryan was available and DC was excited to have him do this episode with us, and it just sort of all came together. I’d say it was a combination of some planning on our part and a lot of good luck and serendipity on getting Constantine. There are obviously a lot of other characters in the DC universe who could do something like this, but we were lucky enough to get Constantine.
Do you think this appearance would have happened if “Constantine” hadn’t been canceled?
That’s an excellent question. I know that we have an expanded universe over here with “Legends” and “The Flash” and I don’t know how much DC wants to have other bring in networks – it probably would have been more of a CW-NBC conversation. I actually don’t know what would have happened if the show was still on the air. My gut instinct is it would have been less likely, because of scheduling and availability and whatnot, but creatively it obviously would have been a different conversation.
Did you try to keep him the same character as he was on his show, or did you see this as a chance to reinvent the character a bit?
No, we wanted to honor the NBC show. Brian Ford Sullivan and Oscar Balderrama, who wrote the episode, I think did an outstanding job of really capturing his voice on the show and bringing it over to our universe. We were also lucky enough to contact people from “Constantine” and have his lighter and his wardrobe and just really honor the show by having it as close as possible to what existed on the NBC version.
Are there going to be any references to storylines from “Constantine”?
There really aren’t. That’s one one thing we tried to do, keep it as part of our universe, and not overcomplicate matters by bringing over what had happened on NBC. There are a couple of lines with nods to a couple of episodes, but that is it. We tried to really keep it within our universe.
Barry Allen brought a very different tone to “Arrow” during his first appearance. Is that going to be the case here as well with Constantine?
Absolutely. Matt Ryan knows this character inside and out, and he really brought it to the show. He has a lot of charm and a lot of swagger and brings a very different tone, that is also in keeping with the direction we’ve been going in this season. It’s a little bit lighter, we’re writing a few more jokes here and there, which is fun, and Constantine and Matt Ryan’s portrayal of him really fit into the new context of the show this season.
Obviously I have to ask if we’ll see more of him, whether returning to “Arrow” or even on his own series again.
Obviously so many fans would love to see him come back [on his own show]. That’s not something we can do. We’d love to have him back. Right now it’s just this one episode this season, but you never know what the future’s going to hold. This is what we have for right now, and we feel very lucky with that.
So maybe it’s a matter of fans rallying behind the idea and then maybe something could happen?
Yeah, I don’t know, that’s a good question. I know we listen to fans, I know DC listens, Warner Bros. I don’t know what the response would be to a campaign of that sort, but obviously there’s always that symbiotic relationship because we know our fans are really devoted. We know how much they love both “Arrow” and “Constantine,” so who knows?
You just finished shooting this year’s big crossover with “The Flash” and “Legends.” How did it go, what can you tell us?
The crossover went amazing. It’s probably one of the biggest in terms of scope and ambition and sheer number of characters we’re putting on screen and interacting together. The last time we did this was obviously last year in 308 and obviously Barry in 208 in Season 2, and this is bigger than all of that. It’s really exciting. It’s very much in the “Arrow” universe, but it’s cool, we’re doing some fights in daylight and it has a different feel to it. It really does feel like an extended universe in a way that I don’t know that we’ve experienced yet. It’s going to be fun.
We’re all expecting the crossover to really set up “Legends” but will it also have repercussions for the rest of the season of “Arrow” and “Flash”?
Absolutely. Like with Constantine, part of the reason we did was it fit in with one of the storylines we wanted to do with our characters and that is the same here. Oliver will have a very emotional and surprising storyline with Felicity in 408 that will have huge repercussions the rest of the season. And on the “Flash” side, the same goes for Barry as well.
We haven’t gone back to that flash-forward in the season premiere since that episode. When will we pick that storyline back up again?
We will see a little bit, a hint of it in 409 and possibly 410. And then, towards the end of the season, it will all be revealed.
“Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.