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Constantine director Francis Lawrence admits that his 2005 DC Comics film has some story issues, and he says he would make a few changes to the film if he could go back and do it again. Constantine marked Lawrence’s first foray as a feature film director, but it wasn’t his idea to make the movie in the first place. Warner Bros. started developing the project with X-Men‘s Lauren Shuler Donner in 1997.
Music video director Paul Hunter and The Cell‘s Tarsem Singh were originally attached to direct Constantine (separately, of course) – based on the character of the same name from DC’s Hellblazer comics – long before Lawrence came on board, and that was after Keanu Reeves had replaced Nicolas Cage in the title role as John Constantine. And while the creative team took many liberties with the source material, such as making Hell a fiery version of the real world, Lawrence acknowledges their choices and, in hindsight, says he would make different ones.
In an interview with Coming Soon for his latest film, Red Sparrow, Francis Lawrence briefly addressed some of the film’s inaccuracies with the source material. He also said that, if he could go back, he would make the movie with an R rating in mind, not PG-13.
“Wow. It’s a tricky question. Now I’ve made seven movies, that was my first. I think there’s definite story issues, I would change some things there. I would definitely give it more levity, things like that. It’s tricky because if I’m starting from scratch I would have had him, like in the material, be blonde and English. Right? I wasn’t the first one hired on the movie, so it’s a whole different thing, but it’s tricky because I love Keanu and I think he did a great job in the movie and all of that, but it’s a tough tough thing. I think the biggest things I would change are in the story, I think it gets too bogged down in supernatural gobbledygook at the end of the movie. If I’d known we were getting an R I would have really made an R-rated movie. We followed all the PG-13 rules, but still got an R so it’s not really an R. That’s what I would suggest.”
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It can be painful for writers and directors to look back on past projects and notice details that could be changed for the better. But sometimes, it’s not always up to the filmmakers involved. Constantine was in development long before Lawrence signed on, and looking back, he would’ve liked to make the film more comic accurate. Still, even though Reeves’ Constantine didn’t have blond hair and wasn’t English, he delivered an exceptional performance that audiences remember to this day. That’s why many of the film’s fans have been clamoring for a sequel for over a decade.
Unfortunately, a sequel isn’t in the works and likely will never be. Instead, Warner Bros. is keen on bringing the character into the unofficially titled DCEU with a live-action adaptation of Justice League Dark. Lawrence was recently asked about his potential interest in helming that film for WB, but he said that the comic series didn’t intrigue him anymore. While audiences may never see a more comic accurate version of Keanu Reeves’ John Constantine, that doesn’t mean there still can’t be another Constantine film down the line that follows the source material more stringently.