I'm always excited to see new comic book properties optioned for live-action adaptations. Frankly, I would love to see the entire comic universe (and not just Marvel and DC) turned into TV series' and movies, because a) I'm selfish and would personally enjoy seeing them, b) it would up the popularity of them and thus, the amount of merchandise I can buy, and c) they're just really, really, phenomenal stories, and deserve their time on screen.
That said, I'm not going to blindly cheer on just any show, simply because it is based on a comic book property, and I don't think that anyone should. This week, I've finally admitted defeat with [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) (although I'll keep watching for the parts that link to the cinematic universe), and I think I may have spotted the next show that could be in trouble: Constantine.
Thus far, I'm actually really loving [Constantine](movie:874314). I think that Matt Ryan is absolutely incredible as John Constantine, I love the episodic nature, I love the inclusion of so many members of Justice League Dark (with more to come), I just flat-out enjoy it. Should it fail to succeed, I don't think it will actually be to do with the show itself (as long as it continues down this path), I think it will have to do with another show, a show with a huge and devoted fanbase, with ten seasons under it's belt so far, a show called Supernatural.
The issue here is that the two shows are remarkably similar, and I'm hardly the first to notice it. They both follow demon hunters, who travel around the US fighting the things that go bump in the night by being the thing that bumps back. They both feature an arsenal of weapons, magic and spells, and a heavy dose of Latin for those all-important exorcisms. They both include very specific tattoos for demon-hunting purposes. While Supernatural centers around demon-hunting brothers, Constantine's central pair are friends (of course, the "central pair" could arguably be John and Zed, rather than John and Chas, but still), there's still a pair and something of a community around them.
The format is also near-identical, with single episodes being devoted to one monster, and an underlying "big bad" arc per season (we can only assume this with Constantine so far, but I'm thinking it's a pretty solid bet). Horror, action, and drama all come together for an hour a week, and the feel of the show matches as well. Even some of the details are there: impersonating government agents, the lair, the symbols, and of course, that trenchcoat.
Of course, for fans of the comic book, the Supernatural outrage is incredibly frustrating. Constantine has been around in printed form for around thirty years (if my "first appearance" research is correct), Castiel's signature outfit was allegedly based on Constantine's appearance, and really, if anyone is copying anyone, Supernatural is the one to blame. Except that in practice, that doesn't really matter. Even if every fan whole-heartedly admitted that Supernatural is somewhat derivative of Constantine (not to mention the entire back catalog of demon-hunting fiction, legend and myth, because Constantine was hardly an entirely new idea itself), there may still be certain issues with the series' running at the same time.
For one thing, Supernatural has been incredibly popular for a decade now. I'm a huge fan of Supernatural, it's been a favorite of mine since I discovered it, but even I am starting to get a little bit fatigued. At this point, we are running out of monsters to hunt, stories to tell, and big reveals to play with. True, their 200th episode definitely revealed a possibility for the next big arc, (no spoilers here, you know what I'm referring to if you've seen it!), but still, after ten years, they are running out of places to go. It could simply be too soon to bring in a show as similar as Constantine - anyone who is getting a little bit over Supernatural is going to find Constantine too much of the same thing. The huge similarities give it almost something of a "reboot" feel to it - taking the viewer back to the beginning just when Supernatural is running out of juice.
The flip side of that is actually a possible reason to expect success. I have no idea how much longer Supernatural will continue, but I do feel like it can't carry on that much longer. A good solid ending is more impressive than tapering out into bad storylines, after all. So when this massively popular show is over, where will the fandom go? Constantine is a perfect place for them, it has all the elements that made the first show so popular, but with new characters, a new cast, and a whole new story to get involved in. If you enjoy one show, why wouldn't you enjoy the other one? A ready-made fan base has definitely kept Agents of SHIELD afloat (c'mon, would you have watched it if it wasn't Marvel?), and while Supernatural could take the Buffy route and move to comic books, a new show would be preferable for those viewers who aren't fans of reading.
On top of that, this isn't the first time in recent years that two almost-identical shows have run concurrently and been successful. Once Upon a Time and Grimm are both adaptations of the classic fairy tales, and both are still going strong (depending on how you feel about Once going Frozen this season, of course). Sherlock, a show that is ridiculously popular despite the surprisingly limited number of episodes has not had it's success changed by the existence of Elementary, and vice versa. And let's not forget the number of sit-coms and soap operas that have been successful simultaneously. Being similar to another show is not always a kiss of death.
At the end of the day, I think this comes down to the Supernatural fandom (Wayward sons? Hunters? I like Wayward Sons, personally), being willing to either accept this as a new, similar show, and leave it at that. Passion is what makes a fan, and I know how it feels to be rabidly passionate about something, and leap to defensiveness or even snobbishness because of that. But neither of these shows, nor the comic book that spawned at least one of them, is a new idea. Exorcisms, monster hunting, demon slaying, these are all ideas as old as the ideas of the supernatural in general; these are characters that tap into the deeply human desire to reach out to something more than this life, and to wrestle with ideas of morality. Neither is truly original, and both have the space to be absolutely awesome.
I'll be watching both, what about you?