“The Sandman”, a Netflix original series, is already looking better than expected, and it may finally satisfy the hopes of millions of fans of Neil Gaiman’s legendary DC Comics/Vertigo graphic novel series. “The Sandman” stars two-time Tony nominee Tom Sturridge as Morpheus, the lord of dreams, and is executive produced by Gaiman, David Goyer (Man of Steel), and Allen Heinberg (Wonder Woman). Season 1 of Netflix’s The Sandman will consist of 12 episodes and will adapt “Preludes and Nocturnes” and “A Doll’s House,” Gaiman’s first two Sandman graphic novel volumes.
“The Sandman” was long considered an “unfilmable” graphic novel series, alongside Watchmen, which was turned into a 2009 film by Zack Snyder and a critically lauded 2019 HBO limited series. Many failed attempts to make a Sandman film have been made during the 1990s, with filmmakers such as Roger Avery, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eric Kripke of The Boys, and James Mangold (Logan) attempting to make a Sandman film with and without Neil Gaiman’s agreement. Finally, Netflix purchased the rights to create “The Sandman” as a television series from Warner Bros., which will be overseen by Gaiman, Goyer, and Heinberg. In January 2021, the primary cast was confirmed, headlined by Sturridge as Dream, Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones as Lucifer Morningstar, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, and Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian. In May 2021, the additional cast was confirmed, including Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Jenna Coleman as Johanna Constantine, and Patton Oswalt as the voice of Matthew the Raven.
“The Sandman” appears to be exceeding expectations based on the promotional photographs and footage published as part of Netflix’s GeekedWeek 2022 teaser. Sturridge is as gaunt and ethereal as Morpheus in the “Sandman” clips, demonstrating some of the Lord of Dreams’ otherworldly talents, such as his bag of magical sand. “The Sandman” is featured prominently in the Geeked Week trailer, which closes with Dream traveling Hell in search of an audience with Lucifer Morningstar, an event that occurs in the fourth volume, “Season of Mists,” but has been pushed up to “The Sandman” season 1. Regardless, Sturridge as Morpheus looks appropriately regal, moody, and fearsomely gothic, and the graphics find the right evocative balance, as Morpheus’ adventures lead him from the physical world to the subconscious of those dreaming, and all manner of strange worlds.
Fortunately, Neil Gaiman’s involvement with “The Sandman” is already apparent. Gaiman’s influence can be seen in every frame of The Sandman thus far, despite the prolific author’s claim that he is less actively involved with Sandman than he is with Amazon Prime Video’s Good Omens (but more than he is with Starz’s American Gods). Furthermore, while the different artists who have depicted Dream and the Endless owe just as much to the Sandman graphic novel story, Netflix’s “The Sandman” appropriately pulls its visual influences from the original creators, Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg. They were the first to bring Gaiman’s lyrical and evocative words and stories to life on the page, as well as develop “The Sandman’s” distinctive and indelible visuals, which the Netflix series is faithfully duplicating.
Certain fans have criticized some of “The Sandman’s” casting choices, particularly Kirby Howell-portrayal Baptiste’s of Death, who is Black, and Gwendoline Christie’s portrayal of Lucifer, which follows Tom Ellis’ enormously popular interpretation. (Ellis recently completed the six seasons of Lucifer on Netflix.) Death, like the rest of the Endless, including Dream, is an anthropomorphic personification that can take any form a person perceives according to their beliefs. Furthermore, Christie’s Lucifer is a supernatural figure that can be portrayed as neither masculine nor female. The casting for “The Sandman” was done with the intention of personifying the essence of the characters, and each performer in the cast is extremely accomplished. Netflix’s “The Sandman” appears to be worth the wait based on the daring promotional photos and footage revealed thus far.