When you cover press tour and Comic-Con back to back, you tend to hear a lot of the same anecdotes and explanations again in rapid succession. This was mostly true in the case of NBC's "Constantine" making its Comic-Con debut — with a screening of the pilot episode, followed by a 10 minute Q&A with the stars and producers David Goyer and Daniel Cerone — but there were some notable new things since last I saw this bunch at press tour.
For starters, the version of the pilot the Comic-Con audience screened had two significant changes from the one critics were sent earlier in the summer: 1)In the climactic showdown between occult specialist John Constantine (Matt Ryan) and a powerful demon, the elaborate CGI demon from the original cut was replaced by Matt Ryan himself playing a dark mirror image of Constantine; and 2)The final exchange between Constantine and angel Manny (Harold Perrineau) is altered so that Constantine can change his mind about recruiting young Liv (Lucy Griffiths) to join him in his fight against evil.
Cerone and Goyer explained the decision to replace Griffiths' Liv with Angelica Celaya as Zed (a psychic who appeared often in the Constantine comic books) back at press tour — essentially, they felt Liv was too passive and reactive, and they wanted someone who could more regularly challenge their hero — and of the altered climax, Cerone said, "We wanted to present a more grounded world to John... We wanted this to be as compelling and real-feeling as possible. So we thought, 'What better way than for John Constantine to face the demon version of himself?'"
With only 10 minutes or so for questions, there wasn't time for much else new (Ryan repeated the story about having a comic book-loving friend who will keep hassling him to be sure he gets the character right), but there were some tidbits, including:
* Composer Bear McCreary, who has a long history of superhero, sci-fi and fantasy shows on his resume (including "Battlestar Galactica," "Human Target" and "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD"), will be writing the score for "Constantine." His work was featured in the pilot we saw, and McCreary made a brief, silent cameo on stage.
* Celaya's first day of filming was Friday (she actually finished at 4 a.m. on Saturday before heading down to San Diego). "I'm so excited to give a little bit of meat and bone to Zed," she said, and Cerone and Ryan both raved about her work in the chemistry test with Ryan, where, per Cerone, "she was backing him against a wall."
* "We have access to the occult corner of the DC universe" to use for guest characters, Goyer said. The pilot includes a scene where Liv finds an artifact that will be very familiar to longtime DC readers, and Goyer said, "That was a clear indication of our intentions." The goal isn't to do "Guest Star of the Week," but to introduce characters who can appear often.
* The show will be drawing on 30-plus years of Constantine stories, going all the way back to his earliest appearances in Swamp Thing's comic. "By the end of the first season, we're going to introduce the entire Newcastle crew," said Cerone. "All that's happened to Constantine, it's all ahead of him (on the show). We have a chance to introduce it all."