SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses a few plot developments in “The Sandman,” which is currently streaming on Netflix.
When viewers watch the end credits of the new Netflix series “The Sandman” – the highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s critically acclaimed graphic novel series about the phantasmagoric exploits of Morpheus, aka Dream, aka the Sandman (Tom Sturridge) – they will be the curious sight of the logo for DC Entertainment. Indeed, “The Sandman” was published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, from 1989 to 1996, and in the first two installments, which are part of Season 1 of the Netflix series, there are several direct references to and characters from the wider world of DC Comics.
However, many of those connections and references were either significantly changed or removed completely from the live-action adaptation of “The Sandman.” In the graphic novel, for example, the villain John Dee (David Thewlis) lives in Arkham Asylum, Gotham City’s infamous prison for the criminally insane, and his parched, skeletal appearance bears a strong resemblance to DC villain Doctor Destiny – a major enemy of the Justice League. In the show, however, John lives in a nondescript mental institution and looks like a normal man.
Meanwhile, DC wizard and occult detective John Constantine, who has extensive interactions with Morpheus in the comics, is sex-flicked to Johanna Constantine (Jenna Coleman), and has a similar (though modified) backstory to the legacy character.
According to Gaiman, who co-produced the show with David Goyer and Allan Heinberg, these decisions had nothing to do with the volatile state of the wider DC adaptation universe (RIP “Batgirl”), nor with “The Sandman” being streamed on Netflix instead of HBO Max.
Instead, for Gaiman, it was more a matter of aligning the TV series with the full arc of the graphic novels.
“‘The Sandman’ itself started in the DC universe, the comic, and then it just ended in its own place,” the author says. Variety. “His world increasingly joined ours and became less and less of a world where costumed crime fighters fly around and so on, which meant that by the time ‘The Sandman’ was done it had its own aesthetic that really wasn’t the DC Universe anymore. .”
Gaiman also wanted to avoid raising unintended expectations that “The Sandman” would, in fact, link up with other DC properties in any meaningful way, especially since the graphic novel’s DC references date back to a much earlier (and largely defunct) comic book era.
“We didn’t want a TV show where you felt like you had to read a whole series of comics from 1988 and 1989 to understand what was going on,” he said. If Doctor Destiny makes an appearance on the show, fans may be wondering (loudly on the internet), will the Justice League make an appearance?
“Well, a) No and b) That’s not the Justice League lineup for about 29 years right now,” says Gaiman. “That group disbanded in 1996. No, we’re not bringing in the 1988 Justice League.”
While Gaiman strove to keep Netflix’s “The Sandman” out of the DC universe, he couldn’t help but pay tribute to the character’s roots, with a dream scene in which kidnapped boy Jed (Eddie Karanja) introduces himself as the brightly colored superhero version of the Sandman created by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon as he searches for DC villain Pied Piper.
“We love DC Comics,” says Gaiman. “It was a huge dream to take the Jack Kirby-Joe Simon ‘Sandman’ as the dreams of a 12-year-old kid.”