I don't think it's a coincidence that the huge superhero and comic book explosion that has taken over the movies and television happened at the same time social media rose to become an inescapable part of life and provide a voice to the fans. Marvel movies and shows like Arrow and The Flash are easily recognizable as the most talked about shows with the most loyal fanbases out there. And right now there are two stories out there are perfect examples of how far we've come and how important platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Instagram have become to the entertainment industry.
Make My Marvel Movie Deadpool
For the longest time Ryan Reynold's Deadpool was the little movie that couldn't and there are few things more remarkable than how a widely leaked script from 2010 finally got turned into a movie in production in 2015. The fact that Ryan Reynold's debuted the character in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was both a blessing and a curse. The good news was that Reynolds' Deadpool was largely considered the only good thing about the movie, the bad news was that the movie was many people wanted to forget about every last thing about it.
But it was clear that Fox was priming the character for its own movie and the year after that Wolverine debacle, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick delivered a wholly respectful and deeply R-rated script that faithfully transplanted the Merc With the Mouth from the pages of the comic book to the big screen. And herein was another seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
Never mind the fact that studios were just watching two big R-rated comic book movies struggle with Dredd and Punisher: War Zone, Fox had yet to make an attempt at any movie not directly related to X-Men or Wolverine and certainly hadn't taken the risk at an R rated comic book movie. PG-13 was becoming the de facto rating for blockbusters and certainly any comic book or superhero movie. But with what little juice the team behind the Deadpool movie had - they shot some test footage of a big freeway action scene that showed off the unique Deadpool brand of action and comedy.
Fox decided to keep Deadpool on ice. And if the makers of this footage uploaded the scene onto Youtube in 2010 or 2011, there's a chance that it still may be in development hell to this day. But three years later, it sneaks out there and with the combined forces of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the state of the insane amount of superhero movie reporting going on, it took off. The social media and internet response proved that there was an audience for an R rated Deadpool movie and the green light came practically overnight.
The Cancellation of Constantine
That a Deadpool movie is being made right now is like proof that miracles can happen. Less convincing is the state of affairs that NBC's attempt at a show based on DC's Hellblazer, Constantine. While Deadpool may show us the heights that the internet and social media can reach in making big things happen, Constantine's fate may show us the limitations.
The CW channel has shown that they have the perfect formula for superhero success with Arrow and The Flash. Both NBC and FOX decided to try their hand at taking DC Comics to television with mixed results. Constantine hit some bumps in the road and never seemed to really recover and pick up the kind of audience something on NBC needs, while Gotham rode the name recognition of Batman's villains and supporting players to OK ratings and a second season pick up even though the critical response has been largely negative.
Keeping a Cult Favorite Alive
Constantine isn't the kind of character that Batman or even Deadpool is. The Hellblazer comic book and character of John Constantine has been around since the 80s and is a cult favorite of many readers but has never been the kind of huge title that other DC luminaries have been. And that has a lot to do with the subject matter and kind of character he is - he's super cool, perhaps one of the most badass comic book characters out there - but it's not in his nature to be a mainstream favorite. Constantine is a manic depressive exorcist, not a masked vigilante.
But this kind of character can just make fans even more vigilant and vocal when it's revealed that NBC decided to cancel the show after 13 episodes. In April, when the creators pitched the plan to the NBC suits for Season 2, Daniel Cerone tweeted for all the fans to start tweeting and he'll use his cell phone during the meeting to show that the audience will be there. Afterwards he said, "If this show comes back for more, I can honestly say it was the fans."
Since then it's been all about the hashtags and hoping that another channel will pick up the promising show. With an average of 3 million viewers per episode - it's the kind of show with the kind of viewership that could do well on a channel like The CW (it's had numbers that regularly top those of Arrow) and though they've been in talks to pick up the show, and Arrow star Stephen Amell has been eager to get the shows to crossover, so far The CW has yet to give Constantine the signs of life it is looking for.
But I wouldn't count the show out for the count quite yet. There are more avenues and channels showing original content than ever before. Shows like Community are proof that NBC shows with low numbers are the kinds of shows that can bring huge numbers to other platforms. Keep the SaveConstantine hashtag alive, fans.