Arrow and Constantine

Arrow (2012-    )
Constantine (2014-2015)
Type: Crossover
Group: DC Multiverse: Earth 1

   Considering that John Constantine is a detective working in the world of the supernatural it seems somehow appropriate that he achieved a crossover from a deceased show.

   In 2012 DC Comic character Green Arrow was launched into his own show on the CW Network. Comic book TV and film adaptions were popping up all over the place and DC was not going to be left behind. But they reserved their big guns - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman - for the big screen, limiting their TV adaptions to indirect adaptions such as Smallville (Superman before he was Superman) and Gotham (Gotham before Batman was Batman). So for television they decided to go with a strong B level character: Green Arrow. Only they tweaked him. Instead of the devil-may-care wisecracker of the comics who shot goofy trick arrows they darkened him up into more of a Batman character. Thus the dropping of "Green" from the title. They also initially de-superheroed him a bit, launching the character without his customary mask. The thought might have been to try and not put off viewers not into comic books. As time wore on though and the show found its audience Green Arrow was allowed to let his superhero flag fly (and wear a mask).

   Green Arrow's backstory does bear some similarities to Batman's. Oliver Queen was a rich playboy just looking for a good time until he found himself shipwrecked on a remote island. The world believed him dead. In reality he was living on the island, toughening up and learning to survive by his wits. He also learned how to become an excellent bowman. Eventually he was rescued and returned a changed man. Back in his home town of Starling City he takes to the streets fighting crime as a vigilante.

   In 2014 NBC decided to put a toe into the superhero pool launching the series Constantine based on the DC character John Constantine from the comic book Hellblazer. Interesting choice for NBC and by interesting I mean boneheaded. Not saying anything bad about the character John Constantine, just that he's a terrible match for NBC. As I said above, John Constantine is a detective working in the world of the supernatural, ie demons and other things that go bump in the night. He's also a trickster conman type who it's dangerous to be friends with. That all makes for a supremely interesting character that in no way fits with the NBC vibe.

   NBC is not a network that just tells producers to go make the best show they can and then they'll air it. They have influence on their shows. Take NBC's reboot of The Bionic Woman. Produced by the folks who created the gritty and edgy Battlestar Galactica remake, it started out with the same sort of edge Battlestar did. Jaime Sommers (the bionic woman) started out with her bionics likely to eventually kill her and working for a shady government agency who it didn't seem even had her best interests in mind. Over the show's short run that all changed with things taking on more of a friendly vibe. The agency she worked for became more standard good guys and everything was a bit more fun and friendly. Because, you know, NBC. So a charming a-hole confidence man who lived in the world of demons? On NBC? Bad match. And not where people would look for a show like that. Still, even if the show's tone was at all influenced by NBC, everyone seemed to agree it was a much more faithful adaption than the previous film adaption starring Keanu Reeves. That said, the show just did not find a large enough audience and after a single 13 episode season it was cancelled.

   The folks doing the DC shows for The CW (not just arrow but also The Flash) thought Constantine might be a better fit for The CW and tried to get them to pick up the show. The CW thought about it but decided against it. So the next question was, well, can we use him as a character on the other DC Comic shows? The answer to that was Hellblazer yes! And so we get a post-cancellation Constantine crossover with the very real potential of him making even more appearances.

   The crossover happened in the Arrow 4th season episode Haunted. There is a lot of Arrow backstory flying around in this episode so I'm going to try and keep this as simple as I can. Part of the formula for Arrow episodes is that they tell a current day story while also telling a flashback story about Oliver Queen's time on the island (shades of Lost). In this particular episode it turns out that during Oliver's time on the island John Constantine showed up looking for a magical artifact. In the process of trying to get the artifact, Oliver Queen assists him by keeping him from getting killed. So, good help that. Constantine offers Oliver help in a number of ways including the promise that he owes Oliver a future favor.

   Meanwhile, in the present day story, Oliver's friend and teammate Sara Lance is having some personal issues. First of all she died. So sad. Then after being dead awhile she got better. In the DC comics universe there is a thing called The Lazarus Pit, a mystical pit that can extend life or even resurrect the dead. Sara took a dip in the pool and came back. Only she came back grouchy. And by grouchy I mean a soulless killing machine. Her body was revived but her soul was still on walkabout. And her body decided to go Terminator. Oliver realizes what's going on and that it might be a good time to call in his mystical marker from Constantine. Team Arrow captures Sara and Constantine shows up ready to restore Sara's soul. Only first they have to travel into another mystical dimension to get said soul. After all, what's the point of bringing Constantine on and not taking the opportunity for a magical mystical tour? They succeed in saving Sara's soul and, acting as their supernatural IT guy, Constantine reinstalls in her body, possibly also installing a Spam blocker (she can no longer eat Spam).

   Arrow's big bad for the season, Damien Dahrk, is also of the mystical bent. When Oliver mentions his name, Constantine poops himself a little and suggests to Oliver he might be wise to do the same before running out of town Benny Hill style thus establishing Dahrk as a serious threat. Because when a guy who fights demons for fun gets freaked out by a guy...

Other Arrow Crossover Links
Arrow and The Flash (2014)
Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow

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