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David S. Goyer talks superheroes

by jmaloni
Tue, Dec 30th 2014 05:40 pm

Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni

Gone are the days of passing the Grey Poupon and bypassing a television role because you're a movie star, über-producer or writer. These days, Hollywood talents go where they can find the best opportunity to be creative - whether it's film, TV or online through a platform like Netflix.

It's less surprising, then, to find David S. Goyer working with NBC on the DC Comics adaptation of "Constantine." The man who helped Christopher Nolan bring Batman to life in the "Dark Knight" film trilogy, and then resurrected Superman in "Man of Steel," said this was "a different change of pace."

"The genesis of the project is that I had a meeting with Warner Bros. Television. This is sort of right after 'Man of Steel' had come out and they asked if I would be interested in doing a television show based on a DC property," Goyer said in a recent phone interview. "And so we just started having, you know, a general conversation about which one made most sense.

"And the first character I asked about (was) John Constantine. I've always been a huge fan. I was reading 'Swamp Thing' when he was introduced. ... And there were some sort of legal things to sort out initially, and then we start talking about other characters. But eventually Constantine became free and I was really excited."

Goyer was keen on using his unique skills to bring forth a character without traditional superhero powers.

"One of the reasons why I always like John Constantine is he didn't have superpowers; he didn't have a costume; and he always used to kind of (thumb his nose) at those characters," Goyer said. "So it was refreshing for me to tell a story about an antihero as opposed to a hero. And he is someone who was really damaged, and I just feel like he's one of the great characters ... of modern literature."

"Constantine" arrives at a time when the superhero genre is red-hot. Marvel's "The Avengers" was the highest-grossing film in 2012; its sequel promises to be among the most attended films of 2015. This year, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" ruled the box office. ABC is offering two Marvel offshoots: "Agents of S.H.I.EL.D." and "Agent Carter." Meanwhile, DC properties "Arrow" and "The Flash" consistently set ratings records on The CW, and CBS recently ordered a series based on "Supergirl."

"I've adopted quite a few comic book properties now. And it's tricky, because I think you have to be really attentive to the fan base," Goyer said. He quoted late Apple founder Steve Jobs, "You can't give the market what they say they want. You want to give them something that they haven't even thought of. If you give them exactly what they want, they become disappointed by the same token.

"The way that we've always tried to measure it is that, you know, we've tried to dip in with the fans and be aware of what are the issues that are most important to them, what are the core concepts that are most important; with the characters, what are the most important? But we, also cognizant of the fact that, if the show is going to flourish and broaden its audience, we need to be able to respond to an audience greater than just the core comic book fans. And so it needs to work for both audiences."

Goyer is currently working on the "Man of Steel" sequel, the Superman vs. Batman-themed "Dawn of Justice." "Constantine," meanwhile, returns with new episodes Fridays at 8 p.m. starting Jan. 16 on NBC.

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