Talking Movies: Constantine

Talking Movies

Released: 18 February 2005
Director: Francis Lawrence
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget: $70 to 100 million
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Tilda Swinton, Shia LaBeouf, and Djimon Hounsou

The Plot:
Cynical exorcist John Constantine (Reeves) spends his days smoking and “deporting” demons to Hell in a desperate attempt to earn salvation before he dies from lung cancer. However, in begrudgingly helping troubled police detective Angela Dodson (Weisz) learn the truth about her twin sister’s death, he stumbles upon a much larger and darker plot to bring about the apocalypse.

The Background:
Constantine is an adaptation of DC Comics’ popular cult comic series John Constantine, Hellblazer. Created by Alan Moore and Stephen R. Bissette and first appearing in the pages of The Saga of Swamp Thing #37 (Moore, et al, 1985) and visually inspired by British musician Sting, Constantine earned his own solo series in 1988 and became a popular anti-hero thanks to his grouchy demeanour and surreal occult misadventures and plans for a live-action adaptation of the character can be traced back as far as 1997. After passing through the hands of different directors and having a variety of actors attached to star, Constantine finally gained traction in 2002 but the title change wasn’t the only alteration the filmmakers made to the character: despite drawing inspiration from the “Dangerous Habits” storyline (Ennis, et al, 1991), the character was changed from a blond-haired, brown trenchcoat-wearing Liverpudlian conman to Keanu Reeves in a black coat with a cantankerous attitude. Despite this lack of fidelity to the source material, Constantine did relatively well at the box office, earning over $230 million; sadly, despite earning a well-deserved cult following over the years, the film was met with lukewarm reactions upon release, which has cast doubt over the chances for a sequel. As much as I enjoyed the later, unrelated Constantine series (2014 to 2015) and Matt Ryan’s remarkable turn in the role as part of the “Arrowverse”, I’ve always had a soft spot for Constantine and, considering that today is Keanu Reeves’ birthday, this seems like the perfect time to revisit this underrated gem.

The Review:
While not a snarky, Liverpudlian conman, Constantine is a moody, blunt, egotistical prick through and through; he’s thoroughly unlikeable in many ways with his demanding and condescending attitude but, while he acts like he has no interest in the welfare and interests of others, Constantine goes out of his way to help those in need and to exorcise any demons that are brought to his attention. Of course, he only does this out of his own self-interests; slowly and painfully dying of inoperable lung cancer, he is determined to buy his way into Heaven by “deporting” any demons and spirits that violate the rules and try to cross over. Yet, he doesn’t appear to take payment for his actions and tries, in his own grouchy and irritable way, to keep those around him safe (primarily by pushing them away to keep his conscience clean but still…)

Grouchy and rude, Constantine seeks to buy his way into Heaven by exorcising demons.

Though irritable and cantankerous, Constantine instantly recognises that something is amiss when a demon attempts to cross over to the living world and believes that something bigger and more threatening is coming as a result. He is disgusted when neither Good nor His God’s emissary, the Archangel Gabriel (Swinton), offer any assistance and resolves to sort the issue out by himself in his own sullen way. Constantine isn’t a man who suffers fools gladly and has no time for red tape, excuses, or time-wasters and, though he knows that he is destined to go to Hell for his sins, and to die from his habitual smoking, he nevertheless continues to oppose demons and angels alike as much as he continues to smoke.

Initially skeptical, Angela comes to warm to Consatntine’s abrasive demeanour.

Constantine’s investigations into this larger threat eventually cause him to cross paths with Angela, a cop who is haunted by her uncanny ability to sense where her targets are without even seeing them and tormented by the sudden apparent suicide of her twin sister, Isabel (also Weisz). Raised as a Catholic, Angela repeatedly repents for her actions as a cop and her conviction that her sister would never had killed herself leads her to Constantine, with whom she initially has a frosty relationship due to his rude and bitter nature. As the audience surrogate, we learn alongside Angela as Constantine exposits the “rules” of the wager between God and the Devil, Lucifer Morningstar (Peter Stormare), and take a dive through the nightmarish landscape of Hell itself. Angela is a tough and capable character with a real vulnerability to her; Isabel’s death clearly rattles her and there’s a definite sense that she’s way out of her element with all the supernatural mumbo-jumbo that follows Constantine and, yet, she repeatedly calls out his shit and holds her own and she only ends up in need of rescue because of her latent psychic abilities.

Constantine’s allies have complete in faith in him despite their nasty tendancy to die.

Constantine’s investigation is aided by a variety of his old allies; his constant companion is Chas Kramer (LaBeouf), here interpreted as a young and enthusiastic cab driver who is eager to be more involved with Constantine’s work and continually annoyed at the way he keeps him at arm’s length. Two more of Constantine’s allies, Beeman (Max Baker) and Father Hennessy (Pruitt Taylor Vince) help him to piece together the puzzle of the looming threat because they genuinely believe in and care for Constantine. Papa Midnite (Hounsou), meanwhile, is a far more reluctant ally; operating a bar that is “neutral ground” for Heaven and Hell, he refuses to get involved or to favour one side or the other. As detestable as Constantine can be at times, it’s heart-breaking to see his friends and allies die purely by association with him and it really lends a sense of tragedy to the character as it’s easy to see why he keeps them at arm’s length and is the way he is as he “doesn’t need another ghost following [him] around”. One thing I also really like about Constantine is the suggestion that Constantine, Midnite, Beeman, and Hennessy were once this team of exorcists and demon hunters and I would have loved to see their past expanded upon more in a sequel or prequel.

Constantine battles many demons but his true antagonist remains elusive.

A slight downside to Constantine is the lack of a tangible primary antagonist; Manuel (Jesse Ramirez) fulfils this role to a degree as, after finding and being possessed by the Spear of Destiny, he ominously makes his way towards Los Angeles as a constant reminder of the looming threat but he’s not an actual villain of the film and is quickly discarded once the finale kicks in. Balthazar (Gavin Rossdale) somewhat fulfils this role as a scheming, devious puppet master but, again, he’s more of a lingering threat rather than a central one and, for the most part, Constantine battles against various demons and denizens from Hell, such as the decomposing soldier demons and bat-like scavengers.

Haeven and Hell join forces as Gabriel wants mankind to earn their place in God’s good graces.

As a result, for most of the runtime, the mystery of the Spear of Destiny and the impending resurrection of Mammon, the son of the Devil, takes centre stage until the very end of the film, where it’s revealed that Gabriel has been conspiring with Mammon. It turns out that Gabriel is just as jaded and weary with humankind as Constantine is with Heaven and Hell; appalled that humanity is allowed the chance to repent, no matter what their sins, and believing that people should earn their place in Heaven through true suffering, Gabriel goes behind God’s back to bring Hell to Earth through Mammon. It’s definitely a twist, especially for Constantine, who would never have guessed that an angel and a demon would join forces, and renders all of his incantations and wit mute since Gabriel’s power is unmatched, forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice to end their combined threat.

The Nitty-Gritty:
One thing Constantine definitely really has going for it is snark; Constantine has a dry, cynical wit and biting, abrasive tone at the best of times but it makes for some amusing moments, such as when he literally points Angela in the right direction and compares Chas to other famous sidekicks, and it seems he always has a snarky comment and sardonic  response to everything happening around him. Despite this, and his demanding and patronising personality, Constantine inspires a great deal of awe and loyalty in those around him; Hennessy willingly communes with the dead and puts himself at risk even though it gives him horrible nightmares and leads to his death simply out of loyalty to Constantine and Beeman sums it up nicely, and emotionally, when, right before his own death, he tells Constantine that, despite his lack of faith, his friends have faith in him. Such is Constantine’s allure that he is able to convince reluctant middleman Midnite to get off the fence and help him (commenting that he (as in Midnite) is the “only one following the rules”) and, despite their rough start and Constantine’s abrasive nature, he builds a natural chemistry and rapport with Angela. Initially, she detests him and his rudeness but, the more she becomes exposed to his world and his beliefs, the more she comes to relate to and warm towards him. Their clear and obvious attraction is handled well and the two have great chemistry despite their conflicting personalities; they never truly consummate on this attraction, which is both surprising and frustrating since I just wanted to see them break that sexual tension.

Constantine depicts a nightmarish, fire-strewn version of Hell based largely on Catholicism.

Constantine’s approach to religion is largely based on Catholicism; rather than explore other religions or consolidate them into one, the idea seems to be that Catholicism sets the rules for this world and, as a result, suicides are condemned to Hell and repentance is the road to salvation. This simplifies matters considerably, but it does make one question how other religions fit into this world since we clearly see that Heaven, Hell, demons, angels, God, and the Devil are all real. This is best seen in Constantine’s frequent trips to Hell within the film, which is a nightmarish, post-apocalyptic mirror of our world populated by demons, tormented souls, and full of fire and suffering and even home to an extended version of the Bible. It turns out that travelling to Hell is incredibly easy and that all one has to do is die under the right circumstances for even the shortest length of time or simply sit in a bowl of water with a cat on your lap (though, to be fair, this appears to be a trick that only Constantine can pull off).

Constantine is a much more action-orientated character in the film.

As far as I can tell, Keanu’s Constantine differs from his comic book counterpart in that he is one of the few born with the ability to see demons, angels, and the “half-breeds” that walk among the living; Angela and Isabel also have this ability but, while Angela suppressed it, Isabel was constantly haunted and driven to her death by it. The same thing happened to Constantine, forever damning him to Hell upon death and driving his mission to deport half-breeds from either side when they break the “rules”. Constantine’s sorcery and magicks are downplayed compared to the source material; while Constantine has various religious and spiritual tattoos to help ward off evil spirits and is able to bring Gabriel forth at the conclusion, he primarily relies on special weaponry and gadgets provided to him by Beeman. This makes him a far more action-orientated version of the character; whereas his comic book counterpart would trick his enemies into defeating themselves or con his way out of confrontations, Keanu’s Constantine beats Balthazar into submission with a Holy knuckle duster and loads up a shotgun that blasts dragon’s breath and Holy bullets.

In the end, Constantine gets the last laugh on Lucifer through his selfless sacrifice.

Still, this is only really for one scene and, for the most part, Constantine is still more of a detective than a superhero; his methods involve a degree of preparation but he’s also able to think on the fly and use whatever he has around or on him to ward off demons (such as when he amusingly threatens Balthazar not with being deported to Hell but by reading him his last rites!) In the finale, when faced with Gabriel’s Holy power and Mammon’s inevitable resurrection, he performs the ultimate con, however, by slitting his wrists and bringing Lucifer to Earth to personally collect his soul. In the process, he’s able to bargain for the release of Isabel’s soul and is fully prepared to die and take her place in Hell, only to be lifted towards the Golden Gates of Heaven because of his selfless act. This results in one of the greatest moments in the film when Constantine flips Lucifer the middle finger as he slowly ascends to Heaven, which I always find to be incredibly in-character and enjoyable. Ultimately, though, Lucifer heals Constantine of his cancer and allows him not only to live but also gives him the chance to earn his place in Heaven; while it’s clear that Lucifer believes that Constantine won’t be able to change his cynical ways or contemptible personality, the film ends with him swapping cigarettes for gum and sardonically commenting that, after dying twice, he has come to believe that God truly does have a plan for everyone.

The Summary:
Going into Constantine, I had pretty much no knowledge of the comic book, so this was my first introduction to the character. Instead, I went in as a fan of Keanu Reeves and supernatural films and, as a result, was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Even now, as big a fan as I am of the character and Matt Ryan’s work, my experience with Hellblazer is pretty much limited to the character’s sporadic adaptations and the Original Sin (Delano, et al, 1993) graphic novel but, even so, it was this film that first made me aware of and spurred my interest in the character. As a result, if you’re unfamiliar with Constantine, I’d highly recommend this as your first exposure to the character; long-time fans of Hellblazer may have been disappointed by the many changes but, even as a Brit myself, I still really enjoy this movie for what it is: a supernatural action/horror film. There’s a lot to like here, from Keanu’s cynical portrayal of the character and his dry, bitter wit and cool, undeniable charisma to a striking and suitably terrifying interpretation of Hell and a pretty fantastic turn by Stormare as Lucifer. Obviously, Matt Ryan has delivered a far more faithful rendition of the character in the years since but, as an Americanised version of a notable British character, I think the film does really well at staying true to the spirit of Constantine and his comic books and I would definitely recommend this to anyone remotely interested in the concept.

My Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Great Stuff

Are you a fan of Constantine? What did you think of the film’s concept and characters, especially Keanu’s performance? Have you ever read the Hellblazer comics? If so, what are some of your favourite stories and moments from Constantine’s history and how do you think Constantine holds up as an adaptation? Were you put off by the Americanisation of the character and, if so, do you prefer Matt Ryan’s portrayal? Would you have liked to see a sequel or Keanu return to the character in some way? How are you celebrating Keanu Reeves’ birthday today and what are some of your favourite roles of his? Whatever you think, go ahead and leave a comment down below.

10 FTW: Comic Book Crossovers We Need To See

If there’s one thing comic books allow, it’s the grandiose crossover between characters. Ever since Barry Allen met Jay Garrick all the way back in 1961 and introduced the idea of multiple parallel universes, comic book characters have existed in both isolated shared universes and travelled across a near infinite multiverse. However, while it’s relatively common to see Bruce Wayne/Batman and Clark Kent/Superman interact with the Justice League or the Teen Titans, or to have Peter Parker/Spider-Man randomly join forces with the Fantastic Four or the X-Men, we’ve also seen the characters of DC and Marvel Comics interact with each other. We’ve seen Superman and Batman both cross paths with Spider-Man, the X-Men team with the New Teen Titans, and both publishers’ greatest heroes go head-to-head in the epic DC Versus Marvel Comics (Marz and David, et al, 1996) crossover.

There have been some weird crossovers in comics.

In addition, Dark Horse Comics snapped up multiple science-fiction and horror film franchises, giving us crossovers such as RoboCop Versus The Terminator (Miller, et al, 1992) and a whole slew of Aliens vs. Predator (Various, 1989 to present) comics. It doesn’t end there, either; we’ve seen Batman cross paths with Judge Dredd on multiple times and Frank Castle/The Punisher team up with not only Eminem but also pop up in Archie Comics, and it was thanks to such comic book crossovers that we finally got to see the three-way mash-up between Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and Ash Williams! Yet, as many and varied and seemingly limitless as these crossovers can be, it seems like we’ve missed out on a few seemingly-obvious crossovers. Maybe it’s because of licensing issues or the fact that DC and Marvel Comics don’t tend to do a lot of business together lately, but, either way, I figured I’d talk about ten crossovers I’d love to see in comic books.

10 Justice Society/Watchmen

After DC Comics finally put an end to the largely-awful New 52 run, they teased Alan Moore’s seminal work, Watchmen (ibid, et al, 1986 to 1987), becoming part of DC canon when Edward Blake/The Comedian’s iconic smiley-face button turned up in the Batcave. Cue the extremely delayed publication schedule of Doomsday Clock (Johns, et al, 2017 to 2019), a storyline that revealed that Doctor Jon Osterman/Doctor Manhattan had been influencing DC canon for decades. While this, obviously, brought the characters of Watchmen (or, at least, versions of them) into conflict with Superman, Batman, and other versions of the Justice League, it’s the older, more seasoned members of the Justice Society of America (JSA) I’d like to see have extended interactions with the Crimebusters. The JSA were at their peak around the time of World War Two, meaning they are decidedly more optimistic and pragmatic about their approach to crimefighting. The Crimebusters, meanwhile, existed in a largely dystopian version of the 1980s that was pretty bleak and constantly on the verge of another World War, meaning this team up could produce an interesting clash of styles and philosophies that would probably be more in keeping with Moore’s more reflective text rather than an all-out brawl. Plus, who doesn’t want to see who would win a battle between Jim Corrigan/The Spectre and Doctor Manhattan?

9 Pulp Heroes United

Before Batman and Superman, there were the pulp heroes of the 1930s to 1950s. Names like the Phantom, the Shadow, the Spirit, the Rocketeer, and Green Hornet may have faded from mainstream relevance in recent years, but they live on thanks to publications from Dynamite Comics and crossovers with DC Comics. Speaking of Dynamite Comics, they came very close to this crossover with their Masks (Various, 2014 to 2016) series, which saw the Shadow teaming up with the Green Hornet and Kato, a version of Zorro, and the Spider but this crossover has so much potential to really pay homage to the heroes of yesteryear. Ideally, such a comprehensive team up would be similar to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Moore, et al, 1999 to 2019) in its scope and legacy; hell, I’d even have the Phantom, the Shadow, the Spirit, the Rocketeer, Green Hornet and Kato, Zorro, Doc Savage, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and the rest of their ilk butting heads with the Martians from The War of the Worlds (Wells, 1897) at the turn of the century. A proper sepia-toned, steampunk-filled piece that sees these wildly different pulp heroes begrudgingly working together to save the world could be a great way to thrust these overlooked classic heroes back into the spotlight.

8 Red Hood/Winter Soldier

If the comic industry was like it was back in the mid-nineties, we would surely have already seen this crossover, which is as obvious and as fitting as the team up between the Punisher and Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael during his brief tenure as Batman. Speaking of which, a team up between Jason Todd/Red Hood and the Punisher is just as enticing but, in terms of thematically complimentary characters, you’re hard pressed to find two more fitting that Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes. Both characters were well-known sidekicks to greater heroes whose deaths shaped, influenced, and affected their mentors for years, and both even returned to life as violent, broken anti-heroes around the same time.

Jason and Bucky’s deaths weighed heavily on Bat and Cap for years.

Yet, while Bucky has gone on to not only redeem himself and assume the mantle of Captain America (and is largely far more mainstream thanks to his prominent inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), Jason Todd has floundered a little bit. It didn’t help that Jason’s resurrection was directly tied to DC’s latest reality-shattering Crisis for years (even though there have since been far less convoluted explanations, and he really should have been Hush all along) but, even ignoring that, Jason’s place is skewed as one minute he’s a sadistic killer, then he’s a violent anti-hero, then he’s wearing the Bat embalm and is an accepted (however begrudgingly) member of the Bat Family. However, both characters have carved a name out for themselves as being willing to go to any lengths to punish the guilty; each has blood on their hands, a butt load of emotional and personal issues, and a degree of augmented strength, speed, and skill thanks to their training or resurrection. While both are similar, Bucky is far more likely to be the bigger man and take the more moral ground, which would be more than enough to emphasise the differences between the two (provided Jason feels like being more antagonistic in this theoretical crossover).

7 Judge Dredd/RoboCop

It’s no secret that RoboCop exists almost solely because of Judge Dredd; without 2000 A.D.’s no-nonsense lawman, we’d likely never have seen the excellently gore-and-satire-filled sci-fi action that is RoboCop (Verhoeven, 1987). While Batman has had more than a few run-ins with Judge Dredd, Detroit’s resident cyborg supercop has yet to meet his cinematic counterpart. The story is so simple is basically writes itself; you could have RoboCop awakened from suspended animation or reactivated after decades of being offline in the war-ravaged dystopia of Mega City One and briefly come into conflict with Dredd. I’d wager that RoboCop would be the more likely of the two to be more morally inclined; RoboCop generally operates based on very specific, law-abiding directives (or, depending on the version, his own conscience) that justify violence in service of protecting the innocent. Dredd, meanwhile, is just as likely to arrest victims of crimes as those who perpetrate them and is generally more an example of totalitarianism and uncompromising brutality in the name of the “law!” Yet, just as Dredd and Batman were able to work together despite coming to blows over their methods and philosophies, these two would make quite the formidable team once they’d ironed out their differences…though RoboCop may need an upgrade or two to survive in the future.

6 Deadpool/The Mask

DC Comics have had many crossovers with Dark Horse over the years, resulting in numerous interactions between DC’s finest and the Xenomorphs, Predators, and Terminators. Similarly, both companies worked together on a number of crossovers revolving around the violent, big-headed cartoon anti-hero “the Mask”. It stands to reason, then, that if the Joker acquiring the magical mask and gaining its powers is a natural fit, a crossover between the near limitless power of the mask and everyone’s favourite fourth-wall breaking Mutant, Wade Wilson/Deadpool, would be just as fitting. Both characters are known for their over-the-top, cartoony violence, springing weapons out of thin air, directly addressing the reader, and busting heads with a maniacal glee. Hell, DC and Dark Horse had Lobo team up with “Big-Head” and even acquire the mask in another crossover and, given Lobo’s similarities to Deadpool, it wouldn’t bee too hard to imagine a crossover between these two being little more than a non-stop bloodbath as they tried in vain to damage each other, before Deadpool inevitably acquires the mask for himself and, in all likelihood, reduces all of conscious reality to a cheesy puff.

5 RoboCop vs. Terminator vs. Aliens vs. Predator

Speaking of Dark Horse Comics, they really have brought us some great crossovers over the years; RoboCop Versus The Terminator and Aliens vs. Predator were natural stories to present in comics, videogames, and toys that were (arguably) too big for movies. They also merged three of these franchises together in Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator (Schultz, et al, 20000), though that story was more a sequel to Alien: Resurrection (Jeunet, 1997) and a continuation of the Aliens vs. Predator comics than anything to do with the Terminator (Various, 1984 to 2019) films. Instead, this four-way crossover would give Dark Horse a chance to take the time-hopping, action-packed story of RoboCop Versus The Terminator and merge it with their complex Aliens vs. Predator comics. RoboCop would probably be best served as the central character of the story; a member of the human resistance could travel back in time to try and eliminate RoboCop, only to run into a T-800 right as Predators come to clean up a Xenomorph outbreak in Detroit. A time dilation could transport them to the war-ravaged future, where RoboCop could team up with a reprogrammed T-800 (or John Connor) against the aliens, or perhaps the future war would be changed by the reverse-engineering or Predator technology. There’s a lot of potential in this crossover but, for me, it only really works if you include RoboCop. Without him, you end up with a poorly-executed concept like Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator, which really didn’t utilise the Terminator franchise enough. But imagine a Terminator/Xenomorph (or Predator) hybrid exchanging plasma blasts with a Predator-tech-upgraded RoboCop and tell me that doesn’t sound cool!

4 Hellboy/Constantine

We’re scaling back a bit with this one. Honestly, I am very surprised we’ve never seen these two team up before, especially considering the amicable relationship DC and Dark Horse Comics have had over the years. Hell, we did get a brief team up between Hellboy and Batman but, arguably, this is the far more fitting choice. In this concept, I would go with the idea that John Constantine and Hellboy co-exist in the same world and have them cross paths when investigating the same supernatural threat or mystery. Obviously, they’d have to fight before teaming up (or, perhaps, they’d just rub each other the wrong way after being forced to team up), but can you imagine the quips and taunts and insults Constantine would have for Hellboy all throughout this crossover? Toss in guys like Swamp Thing and Etrigan, or even the Justice League Dark and the rest of Hellboy’s buddies (and absolutely have Mike Mignola provide his distinctive art style to the piece alongside co-authoring the story with either Grant Morrison or Neil Gaiman) and you could have a very dark, moody, and entertaining paranormal crossover.

3 Batgirl/Spider-Gwen

This one is more of a light-hearted pick but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of unapologetic fun amidst all the big action set pieces and violent action. After her debut in the “Spider-Verse” (Slott, et al, 2014 to 2015) storyline and prominent inclusion in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Persichetti, Ramsey, and Rothman, 2018), this alternative version of Gwen Stacy has gained quite the fan following over the years and has become firmly entrenched in Marvel canon as Ghost-Spider. Meanwhile, since the New 52, DC have returned Barbara Gordon to the role of Batgirl; this wasn’t without some controversy as, for years, Barbara had operated just fine as a paraplegic and the Batgirl mantle had been assumed by other, far more suitable candidates. Yet, DC have continued unabated, largely changing Barbara from a smart and capable tech and information wizard, to a far more catty, athletic, and socially-conscious young lady. Despite this, this has the potential to be a really fun crossover between these two; while Babs should really be the older and more mature of the two, they’re both around the same age these days (somewhere between fifteen and twenty-one, depending on DC and Marvel’s sliding timelines), meaning there would be a lot of common ground between the two. No doubt they would have plenty to say about each other’s costumes, hair, and ex boyfriends (throw Nightwing in there and have that cause a bit of tension between the two) and I would even have them team up against C-list villains, like the Vulture, Chameleon, Shocker, Mad Hatter, or Killer Moth, just to keep the focus on fast-paced, witty action rather than getting all sour and bleak.

2 Spider-Man 2099/Batman Beyond

I know what you’re thinking: Shouldn’t this be a crossover between Batman Beyond (1999 to 2001) and Spider-Man Unlimited (1999 to 2001), considering both cartoons aired at the same time and both characters wore similar, futuristic costumes? Well, you might be right, but Spider-Man Unlimited really should have been based on the initial Spider-Man 2099 (Various, 1992 to 1996) comics as that cartoon is largely remembered for being a poor follow-up to the superior Spider-Man (1994 to 1998) animated series and for featuring a pretty neat new costume for Spidey. Instead, I’d go with Spidey’s futuristic counterpart, Miguel O’Hara, who is more famous for operating in an alternative future of Marvel Comics. Again, the easiest way for him to interact with Terry McGinnis would be to have them exist in the same world but there’s a bit of an issue with that: Batman Beyond was set in 2039 when Terry was sixteen. The Justice League Unlimited (2004 to 2006) episode “Epilogue” (Riba, 2005) jumps to fifteen years later and Terry is a thirty-one-year-old Batman but the story would probably need some kind of time travel plot to bring these characters together at their peak.

Both characters come from similar futuristic worlds.

Luckily, neither character is no stranger to time-hopping adventures; perhaps the best way to do this would be to have two similar villains in each world experimenting with time/reality-bending technology and cause a dilation that threatens to merge both timelines unless Miguel and Terry can stop them. I’d even have them both swap places; have Miguel wake up one morning in Neo-Gotham, running into the aged, grouchy Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and battling some of Terry’s foes, while Terry randomly finds himself dumped in Nueva York and running afoul of Alchemax. After two issues of them exploring each other’s world, the third issue would be the obligatory fight between the two before they agree to team up for the fourth and final issue and sort out the problem. Both characters’ futuristic costumes have very similar traits and exist in visually interesting futuristic worlds, making a potential clash and eventual team up between them an exciting prospect for the art work and banter alone.

1 Batman/The Crow

Easily the top choice for me, and the genesis of this list, I literally cannot shake how perfect a crossover between Batman and Eric Draven/The Crow would be. Neither are strangers to inter-company crossovers but, while the Crow has had to settle for teaming up with the likes of Razor, The X-Files (1993 to 2018), and Hack/Slash (Seeley/Various, et al, 2014 to 2018), Batman has met Al Simmons/Spawn, Spider-Man, Judge Dredd, and even Elmer Fudd and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yet, this crossover provides the opportunity to get Batman back to the gritty, noir-inspired style of stories like The Long Halloween (Loeb, et al, 1996 to 1997) utilising an art style that is part Dave McKean and part James O’Barr. As for the plot, I’d have Eric return to his undead life once again after it is revealed that there was another figure pulling the strings of Top Dollar’s gang. This would, of course, bring Eric to Gotham City, where he’d start killing members of this extended gang of thugs with his usual brand of violence and poetic justice. Naturally, this would lead him into conflict with Batman but, rather than the two descending into a poorly written, childish brawl as in Spawn/Batman (Miller and McFarlane, 1994), it would probably be better to focus on Batman’s detective skills as he investigates Eric’s murder, those behind the murder, and Eric’s violent actions on the streets of Gotham. In fact, I probably would only have the two interact right at the conclusion of the story, just as Eric is about to kill his final target; they could have a discussion on morality and the meaning of justice but, ultimately, Eric would fulfil his mission and return to the grave regardless of Batman’s protestations, leaving Batman to ponder the line between justice and vengeance.


What comic book crossover would you like to see? Which comic book crossover has been your favourite, or most reviled? Whatever you think about comic book crossovers, leave a comment below.