Greetings and welcome to yet another amazing video. DC’s “The Sandman” will be the topic of discussion today.
How, therefore, does one adapt a comic book series that has received prizes yet is thought to be impractical for the big screen? The creators of the Netflix series The Sandman occasionally stray from the well-known original material, but they usually adhere to it.
The Netflix adaptation of The Sandman is incredibly faithful to Neil Gaiman’s comics despite the story’s inherent difficulties. Although far from perfect, the ten-episode season that showrunner Allan Heinberg and executive producers David S. Goyer and Neil Gaiman created from the first 16 issues of the comics clearly tries to honor and maintain the essence of the originals.
So let us ask the question at hand here.
How Does ‘The Sandman’ on Netflix Compare to Neil Gaiman’s Comics?
Despite Neil Gaiman’s impressive range of work, The Sandman, a comic book series that ran from 1989 to 1996, is his most well-known work. In the peculiar narratives of The Sandman, which revolve on the titular character, a family of creatures known as the Endless preside over the concepts that define all life in the cosmos. Despite being one of Gaiman’s most brilliant concepts, it is difficult to understand what the Endless are and how they might genuinely affect day-to-day existence.
The story of Dream, performed by Tom Sturridge, the ruler of the dreaming realm, who magic-hungry mortals initially imprisoned, is still being told in Sandman. After making his escape decades later, he must deal with the chaos that ensued while he was away while also restoring order to the Dreaming. Moving Dream’s escape from the late 1980s to the present day, setting the rest of the plot in 2021 (with some flashbacks, of course), is one of the series’ most obvious early changes. However, it is hardly the only instance in which The Sandman deviates from its source material.
The first season of The Sandman covers the first 16 issues of the comic book, which feature arcs from both Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll’s House. It mainly follows the “one issue each episode” rule, but several plotlines had to be rearranged with only ten episodes.
In certain situations than others, this works better. In order to increase the dramatic tension, the fourth episode, “A Hope in Hell,” incorporates the plot from Passengers, the comic book issue that comes after “A Hope in Hell,” in which John Dee breaks out of a mental institution in search of Dream’s ruby. This episode follows Dream’s journey to Hell in search of his helm. As our protagonist and foe compete for Dream’s magical items and tease the decisive clash, the dual narratives give us a magnificent narrative.
A similar style is noticed in “The Sound of Her Wings,” Episode 6, which is a less successful attempt at mixing comic narratives. The first part of the show is an exceedingly close reproduction of the same-named comic issue, in which Dream and Death wander around and discuss humankind. The episode’s second half is a quite accurate reproduction of issue 13, Men of Good Fortune. We hear of Dream’s once-in-a-century encounter with the immortal human Hob Gadling there.
The tales are charming and emotional on their own, but when they are crudely patched together one after the other, the effect is one incoherent episode of television. This episode tries awkwardly to provide us with a more profound knowledge of Dream’s connection with humans and with change, but at the end of the day, these are two humorous concerns that may have worked better on their own.
In an interview, Heinberg and Gaiman stated that one of the most fascinating aspects of the adaptation process was the ability to depict events from The Sandman that do not occur on the page yet are nonetheless significant. For example, we never see Hal sing in drag in the comics because, as Gaiman says, comics aren’t the ideal medium for musical performances. The production seizes the chance for fresh material, including some of Hal’s songs, and casting Hedwig and the Angry Inch director/writer/star John Cameron Mitchell as Rose Walker’s drag-performing landlord.
Another fantastic new inclusion is the final conversation between John and his mother, Ethel Cripps, in the show’s third episode. Ethel dies off-page in the comics and leaves John her protection amulet. In the show, Ethel hands John the amulet and then passes as the safeguards slip away. Before that, we have an insightful dialogue between her and John regarding Dream. This helps to establish John’s motives in the future.
The Sandman may not be brimming with Justice League allusions, but it is still a DC comic. For example, John Dee is housed at Arkham Asylum with Batman villains such as Scarecrow. He is also the supervillain Doctor Destiny, who gets up to many nasty activities in other DC comics and has a grotesque, scabby, and scary visage. The Sandman series, on the other hand, cements John as a human and changes his history.
Lyta and Hector Hall are two more DC Comics characters that feature in The Sandman. They have their own superhero identities in the larger DC universe, but they have a specific role in The Doll’s House chapter of The Sandman. Lyta is the only daughter of Wonder Woman and Retired Air Force General Steve Trevor, and Hector is her husband, who is also the son of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Even though Hector is dead, Brute and Glob’s wild dreams have managed to capture his consciousness. They hold him up as their own Sandman in an effort to replace the current Dreaming leader. To spend more time with his pregnant wife Lyta, Hector visits her in dreams. On occasion, Lyta also visits Jed Walker, Rose Walker’s younger brother. But when Dream learns what Brute and Glob did, he sends Hector back to the afterlife and makes the threat to come back for Lyta’s kid, who by virtue of its gestation in the Dreaming is now his.
The majority of this plot is featured in The Sandman on Netflix. However, there are some changes. Lyta is now a close friend of Rose’s and is searching for Jed alongside her. Jed assumes the role of the fictitious Sandman after becoming imprisoned by a brand-new nightmare called Gault.
It’s a moving decision highlighting his need to escape his controlling adoptive father. As it brings together characters from significant early strands of The Sandman and provides us another opportunity to observe the repercussions of Rose’s function as the dream vortex, I especially loved the link between Lyta and Rose.
The introduction of the nightmare known as the Corinthian earlier in the narrative is one of the largest and finest ways that The Sandman departs from its inspiration. The show makes the correct choice to cast him as a villain from the beginning. He is definitely the season’s primary adversary, as evidenced by his confrontation with Dream in the opening episode and his manipulation of Rose and Jed during the serial killer conference. His comic appearance is limited to The Doll’s House arc, which works well as we advance through the books.
However, it’s good to have another throughline we can follow when we binge on a TV series that is released all at once. The Corinthian also serves as a fantastic antagonist for Dream throughout because he supports humankind’s baser instincts. Even if the Corinthian may be the stuff of nightmares, his increased function is the stuff of adaptive fantasies.
Coming back to Dream
Morpheus, alias Dream, one of the seven Endless, is the main subject of “The Sandman,” which encompasses a variety of worlds and people but chiefly centers on his desire to recover his power. The Netflix series follows a somewhat different path from how Dream appears in the comics: Sturridge dresses like a goth teen, broods frequently, but generally seems like an average person. In contrast, the Lord of Nightmare in Dream’s comic comics has an otherworldly atmosphere, has untamed jet-black hair, and has starry eyes that distinguish him from people in practically every scene.
Let’s examine the variations in Dream’s eyes between the Netflix series and the comics, as well as what worked and what didn’t.
The human-like creature known as Dream roams the planet as the Lord of Dreams. His eyes, which resemble two starry, void-like portals in the comics, are his most distinctive feature and give away both his primal origin and his enormous strength. Although adding this to Sturridge’s appearance in the adaptation would have been a nice touch, Gaiman said on his own Tumblr that the look was unable to pull off for practical reasons:
He says, and I quote, “Sometimes you need the eyes to convey information. We did a lot of make-up, contact lens, and CGI trials, tests, and experiments starting out and reluctantly came to the conclusion that we didn’t want to lose Tom’s eyes because when we did, we diminished the magic of his performance.”
Gaiman’s argument makes sense, as Sturridge effectively conveys emotion via facial expressions alone and faithfully captures Dream’s continuously tormented appearance in the comics. It’s interesting to note that the show’s first episode, “Sleep of the Just,” gives us brief glimpses of Dream’s comics eyes at significant times. Dream is photographed within the glass building, looking directly into the lens with one of his eyes shining unsettlingly. Although the effect is fleeting and faint, it is appropriate for the given setting.
Dream, a creature of eternal power, is fragile because he is imprisoned against his choice, yet the audience is given a brief glimpse of his strength. The sequence foreshadows the cruelty and brutality that the Lord of Dreams and Nightmares may display when pushed to the limit.
In an interview, Sturridge said that although the writers first tried to portray Dream’s wild, skeletal appearance appropriately, it proved challenging to work into the plot. Sturridge said that he even had “black contacts with stars in them” and that his face was painted “as white as an A4 sheet of paper.” Although true to the comics, this eccentric appearance would preclude Dream from regularly mixing with people because it would give the impression that an Endless was on the planet.
Given that Dream spends millennia in the series traveling among people, Gaiman’s demand that the figure should be able to go around the streets without drawing too much notice is legitimate. In “The Sound of Her Wings,” Dream gives Hob Gadling, whom he sees in a bar once every hundred years, immortality. Dream’s appearance fluctuates according to current trends (the wigs are, er, dubious), indicating that the Dream Lord wants to seem as human as possible while doing his duties. Whether or not Dream has starry eyes, her abilities are formidable in both the comics and the Netflix version.
Let’s talk about the Constantine factor in the show as well
Some characters are given a lot of creative licence in the series, including the gender-flipped John Constantine, who is one of DC’s most recognisable exorcists. However, why did the show choose to alter the character? And how does the TV character stack up against the one from the comic book?
John being transformed into Johanna for the show was done for two primary reasons. The most straightforward and most obvious justification has to do with the character’s rights. It was simple for Gaiman to incorporate many heroes and antagonists from various comic book series, including John Constantine, Mr. Miracle, and even the Martian Manhunter, into the pages of The Sandman because his comic book story was intertwined with the larger DC universe when he began writing the series.
Because they lacked the authorization to employ other DC characters, the same could not occur in the Netflix series. Even if they did, it would be perplexing to insert iconic DC characters in the middle of the story; this is why even The Sandman comics grew increasingly disassociated from the larger DC world.
The fact that Johanna Constantine exists in The Sandman world as two distinct individuals is the second justification for the alteration. Before Dream and her descendant John meet, Johanna is introduced to Dream in the comic books. Therefore, the writers of The Sandman decided it would be more intriguing for the series if the same actress played both roles. Gaiman himself noted on Twitter that by using the same actor for both Johanna characters in various historical periods, “it looked neater.”
John and Johanna Constantine from Netflix are essentially the same person. They are both English exorcists who typically charge wealthy clients money to eliminate demons and other supernatural threats. Even Johanna’s more extended introduction in the Netflix series highlights her skills, traumas, and motives. In the comic books, introducing John Constantine was not required, but the series must explain everything it requires the viewer to comprehend. This brilliant touch sets the story distinct from the DC world.
Preludes & Nocturnes, the first book in Gaiman’s Endless epic, serves as the overall plot point for Dream’s tragic encounter with Johanna Constantine in the series. Dream must find his weapons of power in order to reconstruct the Dreaming and apprehend escaped Nightmares after breaking out from the jail where he had spent more than a century. The Pouch of Dream Sand, one of these instruments, was last seen in Johanna Constantine’s hands. So, Dream asks the exorcist for assistance in finding his potent weapon.
It comes out that Constantine’s ex-girlfriend Rachel is in possession of the Pouch. Unfortunately, when Constantine departed in the middle of the night, he forgot to take the Pouch, and six months later, Rachel is absolutely exhausted with nightmares. Unaware of the Pouch’s abilities, Rachel became immobile and confined in bed while constantly daydreaming about her departed boyfriend. Finally, after being possessed by the Pouch for months, Rachel could only survive by holding the object. So, once Dream and Constantine finds the item, Rachel dies.
Since Rachel is not shown as a heroin addict who stole the Pouch, as is the case in the comic books, her TV show tale is much more terrible. That’s because Constantine is solely to blame for Rachel’s passing. Johanna ultimately escapes a recurrent nightmare in which she has to see the loss of life brought on by her failures after assisting Dream in retrieving his Pouch. She regrettably creates yet another unpleasant memory in the process.
The greatest strengths of The Sandman, as with most of Gaiman’s works that have been adapted for television, such as American Gods, Lucifer, and Good Omens, lie in the rich world-building palette, which more than makes up for the cheesy dialogue and some uninteresting supporting characters.
But Netflix’s distribution method and the habit of binge viewing in today’s society damaged the extraordinary amount of detail and attention shown in the series’ visual presentation and narrative. It is difficult to watch more than two episodes at a time without pausing because of the effort put into this series and the numerous moving pieces that keep it going.
With a few minor quibbles, The Sandman on Netflix is most likely to be viewed by fans of Gaiman’s original comic as the most significant adaptation they could have asked for, directed by the author himself. The next step will be to maintain this caliber in upcoming seasons and triumph where shows like American Gods have failed.
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