It’s taken 35 years, a journey through development hell, a bidding war and more than a few nightmares, but writer Neil Gaiman thinks he’s finally done the impossible. he brought Sandman on the screen without ruining the plot.
The comic, which he first outlined in 1987, originally ran through DC Comics from 1989 to 1996. Among those who read it, Sandman has since gained a cult following as one of the most influential and creative works of literature to come out of the world of comics.
But despite the continuation of the Hugo Award-winning prequel, a whole universe of spin-offs is so popular that some of them are already turn into their own seriesand millions of fans demand a television adaptation. or movieIt never happened.
In an interview with CBC, creator Neil Gaiman said that it’s still just not possible to bring this story to the screens. Sandman follows the somewhat titular character (most commonly referred to as Sleep, but also variously referred to as Morpheus, Lord Maker, Kai-kul, and yes, the Sandman) as he rules over his domain – the land of dreams where all living beings go when they sleep , and where everything ever imagined becomes reality.
This puts virtually all fictional creatures – and some real ones important enough to attain mythical status – within Gaiman’s reach. Reading Sandman it’s like participating in humanity’s greatest crossover episode, with everyone from DC superheroes to ancient Egyptian gods, Shakespeare, Lucifer, God, Cain and Abel helping and abetting the Lord of Dreams. Even Loki — the Norse god who recently rose to fame for his prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — plays a part in the long story. Sandman post books.
Gaiman himself thwarted attempts to bring his creation to the screen for decades; there was too much for a traditional movie or TV show. With genre shifts between horror and fantasy (and everything in between), fantastic visuals created by some of the most influential artists in the medium (original Sandman artist Dean McKean even returned from retirement to design the show’s titles) and the brooding philosophical theme proved too difficult for any writer for thirty years.
And when did they even try?
“All that happens is that you break your heart trying to figure out how to create a plot that will actually Sandman,” he said.
It wasn’t until the way we make and watch TV shows was reinvented that Gaiman really believed Sandman can work outside of comics.
“I think this is a case where something that was a huge mistake suddenly became a feature,” he said. A decade ago, a two-hour movie was seen as a place for big-budget storytelling, and TV shows were locked into rigid 21- or 42-minute frames. Streaming discovered it.
“Times have changed and all of a sudden the idea that you have a 3,000 page story that can be turned into 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 hours of quality TV turns into something that is actually a huge feature. and wonderful thing.”
The final product, launched today on Netflix, only scratches the surface of the source material (for fans of the comic, the first season goes all the way to the “A Doll’s House” arc in issues #9-16), but still manages to introduce a fair amount of the world and its characters.
This of course includes Dream himself, played by English actor Tom Sturridge, who was presented with another issue central to the story. How do you play a character who isn’t even human, who goes through the comics with complete detachment from living beings, as someone the audience really cares about?
“I think he’s emotional, but I think by necessity he has to keep his emotions in check,” Sturridge said.
The show is as much about the supporting characters as it is about The Dream, and sometimes more about them.
Wide range of characters
Vanesa Samunyai plays Rose Walker, the protagonist of the Doll’s House arc, her first credited role. She said she got the part after years of auditions and just before she gave up acting altogether.
Her casting was part of a series of changes from the comic that got some fans excited – and saw Gaiman fight back.
When Samunyai, who is black, plays Walker, he changes the character who was white in the comics. It also has a ripple effect on various members of her family who are also important figures in the story, who are also played by black actors.
This is not the end of change Sandman the team did. Lucifer, an important early antagonist, was mostly portrayed in the comics as more typically masculine, although this was not the case earlier in Gaiman’s books.
In the Netflix series Game of ThronesActress Gwendolyn Christie takes on the role of Lucifer, which she doesn’t see as a problem in Gaiman’s multifaceted world. Sandman.
“There is no relation to gender because Lucifer is not human,” Christie said. “Lucifer was an angel, so it didn’t bother me at all.”
Twitter updates, anger and war
Elsewhere, the canonically non-binary character Desire—another of the Dream siblings—is played by non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park. Dream’s sister, Death, who fans may love more than her brother, is played by black actress Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Since she was originally drawn by a white woman, Gaiman was forced to defend his choice after some fans wrote angry comments about her casting.
For her part, Baptiste said she’s excited to show a different portrayal of Death, who is so often portrayed as the Grim Reaper in today’s media.
“I think people will find great surprise and great comfort to see this character who cares, nurtures and is motherly,” she said.
“I don’t care about people who don’t understand / haven’t read Sandman whining about non-binary Desire or that Death isn’t white enough.” — Gaiman tweeted last year, after the cast list was made public. “Watch the series, decide.”
And finally, Gaiman’s only character told the team “deliberately changed genderThis is Lucien, known in the books as Lucien.
Like her castmates, actress Vivienne Achimpong didn’t see much of a problem with the change – it’s just another aspect of Gaiman’s approach to the superhero genre that seems significantly more complex than other mainstream offerings.
“All [Gaiman’s] the characters are so rich and the essence of this character is in them,” said Achempong. She is embodied differently. [than] is on the page or maybe some people imagined. But the essence of this being … has not changed, it is still there and very present, and what I want to portray.