How Matt Ryan's Constantine Became The Center Of The Modern DC Universe

The DC cinematic universe, especially its live-action movies, seems quite disjointed and messy. There is no cohesive arc to the movies, no build-up to something bigger. For the last couple of years, however, that has been part of the charm, with standalone, isolated movies like "The Suicide Squad," "Birds of Prey," and "The Batman" exploring weird stories and characters in creative ways. Sure, they are not connecting into a big event film, but the sheer creativeness of each of the films makes them better than what a coherent, uniform, but formulaic universe could produce.

Reportedly, this was all supposed to somewhat change with "The Flash," a movie with a lot of aspirations. Not only is it supposed to introduce the multiverse to the DCEU, but also bring back Michael Keaton as Batman, all while also serving as a sort of reboot the same way "Flashpoint" did for the DC comics. In that storyline, Barry Allen, aka The Flash, ends up accidentally changing the course of history by going back in time and changing the past. When he goes back to undo it, it accidentally resets the entire DC universe.

While the fate of "The Flash" movie is still up in the air, it is time to recognize we don't need to wait for Barry Allen to become the center of the DC multiverse, because we already have one. The answer to every DC problem has been staring us in the face for the past eight years: make it all about Matt Ryan's Constantine.

From humble beginnings to a central role

Back in 2014, Ryan starred as John Constantine in an NBC pilot for a show built around the character created by Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bissette, Rick Veitch, and John Totleben on the pages of the iconic '80s run of "Swamp Thing." A working-class occult detective, warlock, and con man, Ryan's Constantine was praised for being a comics-accurate depiction of the Hellblazer in a show that had fantastic special effects and good use of creepy atmosphere, especially for a NBC series. But as comics-accurate as Ryan was in the titular role, the show was severely bogged down by a dull narrative and network censorship that prevented the character from smoking on screen or from being bisexual like in the source material.

The show was canceled after 13 episodes, but almost immediately there were plans to bring Constantine over to the Arrowverse. Stephen Amell and "Arrow" showrunner Marc Guggenheim campaigned to integrate Constantine into that universe as they had already introduced some mystical elements from the comics like the Lazarus Pit. Finally, in 2015, Ryan reprised the role in an episode of "Arrow" where he helps bring Sara Lance's soul back from hell, playing the same version of the character from the NBC show.

The news got even better once Ryan made an appearance on the best TV show, "Legends of Tomorrow," which then led to a series regular role and some of the best moments of that show. Constantine brought dry humor, tons of scams, and some horror flair that mixed phenomenally with the Legends' wacky slapstick, all while quickly becoming a bisexual icon on the show.

The animated return of a king

Live-action is not enough for the Hellblazer, of course. Even before "Legends of Tomorrow" got tragically canceled, Ryan was already giving voice to the character on various animated projects. There was the Arrowverse-adjacent "Constantine: City of Demons" web series, but also the "Justice League Dark" movie set in the DCAU — a series of interconnected animated movies that started out as adaptations of comic book storylines but started to revolve more and more around original stories.

Most importantly, Constantine even got to be the center focus of the last DCAU movie before that continuity got rebooted, in "Justice League Dark: Apokolips War." That movie played out as a Crisis event, and was inspired by Grant Morrison's "Final Crisis." The film follows the efforts of the remaining members of the Justice League to regroup after Darkseid decimated the Earth and all its heroes. Constantine plays a major role in getting the team together and saving the world (while reuniting with his ex, King Shark!), and it is he who convinces Flash to go back in time and change the timeline, leading to a reset.

Most recently, Ryan reprised his role once again in the excellent third season of "Harley Quinn." This one is notable because the show is renowned for its disregard for DC canon and continuity, as it constantly reimagines popular characters like Nightwing, while killing established characters like Scarecrow, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, and even actual actor Billy Bob Thornton.

The key to the DC universe

If the whole point of "The Flash" movie being crucial to the future of the DC cinematic universe is that Barry Allen is the one that causes the plot of the movie — and the eventual reboot — to happen via time travel, then Warner Bros. Discovery can easily find a way to make Constantine the culprit. I mean, the guy is a wizard! Would it be harder to believe that a spell gone wrong causes the entire multiverse to change compared to a guy running so fast he goes back in time?

Granted, Matt Ryan reprising the role in so many projects could be just a coincidence or a cool homage to a good actor in a fantastic role, but what if it isn't? What if Matt Ryan's Constantine is the one constant in every DC universe? That would easily solve all of DC's continuity problems, and allow for arguably the single biggest crossover in film. 

Forget "Infinity War," and forget "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Make a DC crisis film where you bring in all the live-action movies, the entire Arrowverse, but also the DC animated universe, and even "Harley Quinn." Hell, if you want, you can even bring in Keanu Reeves from 2005's "Constantine" for good measure and explain it as bizarro world. And if we're really shooting for the stars here, why not get Guillermo del Toro to direct the film and make the Justice League Dark movie he always wanted?