It still doesn’t feel quite real that Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman” is actually getting the full-service TV series it deserves. Especially after so many decades of false starts (and bad ideas; seriously, imagine trying to turn a 75-page comic book epic spanning centuries into a movie trilogy).
But real it is, and in case you still need convincing, on Saturday during Warner Bros.’ DC FanDome 2021, we finally got our first look at Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer Morningstar.
And guys, as you can clearly see for yourself, it’s great. First, here’s the character poster:
And purists, fear not. Old scratch’s leathery wings are here in full effect too.
That’s it right there.
Of course, you’ve noticed that Lucifer is also the main character of another prominent Netflix series, so if you’re wondering, yes, Christie’s Lucifer and the one played by Tom Ellis are, in fact, the same character.
The reason comes down to the rights to “Sandman” characters and concepts, which are complicated, but the gist is that they were licensed pretty piecemeal and, as a result, “Lucifer” wasn’t able to have a direct connection to the “Sandman” comics the character originated in. That’s part of the reason why Fox, where “Lucifer” lived before it jumped to Netflix, developed it into a supernatural police procedural.
Yes, I know, “Lucifer” eventually got somewhat closer to the metaphysical epic seen in the comics, and yes I know the show has a lot of fans; I’m the last person to tell them what they can or can’t enjoy. But, personally, I found the show a wasted opportunity.
The events of “The Sandman” before Lucifer sets up shop in Los Angeles, for instance, are a million times more interesting than “The Devil Fights Crime.” And no matter where “Lucifer” eventually went, it was still a much smaller, much more mundane take on heaven, hell and in-between than a story that ultimately became a crazed mashup of “Paradise Lost” and Lovecraft should ever be.
But what really stood out is that being played by Ellis (who, to be clear, is a delightful actor) meant that Lucifer was, no matter how oily and amoral, a distinctly masculine character in the way we commonly perceive such things.
When introduced in “A Hope in Hell,” the 4th issue of “The Sandman,” despite his apparent maleness Satan was distinctly androgynous, with his appearance expressly based on David Bowie in the early 1970s. Like so:
Lucifer continued to be based on Bowie in all subsequent appearances, sometimes the mid-’70s “Thin White Duke,” sometimes his cleaned up and tanned “Let’s Dance” early ’80s style, and so on. But always with the same detached, otherworldly androgyny that, quite frankly, a handsome man with perma-stubble can’t really pull off.
Casting for that had to be a hell of a challenge but assuming the poster of Gwendoline Christie isn’t a bait and switch, I’d say mission f—ing accomplished, guys. Good work.
Anyway, “Lucifer” did end up getting six seasons, so whatever happens with “The Sandman,” it’s unlikely that we’ll ever get to characters like Elaine Belloc, or the goddess of hedgehogs, or fallen, cigar-smoking cherubs, not to mention the creation of a weird pocket universe designed to be the exact opposite, morally speaking, of the one created by God. But thanks to the Netflix adaptation of “The Sandman,” we will at least be getting Gwendoline Christie absolutely nailing the role.
“The Sandman” stars Tom Sturridge as Dream, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Christie as Lucifer; Sanjeev Bhaskar and Amid Chaudry as Cain and Abel; Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess; Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne; Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian; Mason Alexander Park as Desire; Donna Preston as Despair; Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine; Niamh Walsh as Young Ethel Cripps, Joely Richardson as an older Ethel Cripps; David Thewlis as John Dee; Kyo Ra as Rose Walker; Stephen Fry as Gilbert; Razane Jammal as Lyta Hall; Sandra James Young as Unity Kincaid; and Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew the Raven, Dream’s trusted emissary.
No premiere date has been set, but you can watch the fantastic first trailer here.