When FOX cancelled the fan-favorite police procedural based on the character of Lucifer Morningstar as depicted in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman and its spinoff Lucifer by Mike Carey, streaming giant Netflix stepped in to save the show, giving it not just one but two more seasons. Recently, they announced that the show's fifth season would be its final one, and just weeks later we get today's announcement that Netflix is moving foward with an adaptation of The Sandman. Immediately, there was a subsection of fans who wondered: Does that mean Tom Ellis's Lucifer is going to appear on The Sandman eventually? Are the two set in the same universe?
In the comics, Netflix's own solo series spun out of the events of The Sandman, in which it was revealed that Hell was not so much a punishment as it was a gift to Lucifer, in its own strange way. Lucifer, then, followed the fallen angel's adventures throughout the various realms established in Gaiman's Sandman universe. While there were a lot of differences between the Lucifer of the comics and the one that eventually made his way to TV screens, a lot of the character's essence was retained for the show, rendering Ellis's performance instantly memorable and raising the bar pretty high for anybody who might take on the gig after he does. It makes the audience not only curious but probably, in a lot of cases, hopeful that the plan all along was to expand out the universe to show Lucifer's backstory in The Sandman and give richer, deeper context to the villain.
In hindsight, some of the verbage of the Lucifer statement from executive producer Ildy Modrovich feels like it could have been talking around the news of Netflix developing a Sandman series. Things like saying that fan input wouldn't change anything right now, as opposed to the more traditional claim that the creators found an ending they are happy with, could be seen retroactively as hinting that there were bigger considerations and bigger players involved -- almost as though some of the careful consideration that went into how to manage all of this was tied to the expansion of Gaiman's world on the streaming platform. That is probably just overthinking things, but at a minimum you can read her comments below and see why we get that impression:
A message of love for our #Lucifans 🥰😈❤️ from me... @Henderson_Joe all the #Lucifer writers and our beautiful cast... @tomellis17 @LaurenGerman @LesleyAnnBrandt @RachaelEHarris @kevinmalejandro @dbwofficial @Aimee_Garcia and @ScarMestevez pic.twitter.com/8aXb6yfJ7c— Ildy Modrovich (@Ildymojo) June 26, 2019
In the scheme of things, it likely won't matter to most fans whether or not Lucifer and The Sandman share a continuity. What already has some people talking is whether Tom Ellis should be brought back to the role for The Sandman. Given his innate charm and the fact that he has built up a fan base in the role, it seems like a no-brainer to bring him back. Netflix already has the rights to Lucifer handled, and recasting the role would likely come with its own set of challenges, including fans who would reject the new actor regardless of talent.
Of course, that may not matter. If the show is good, fans will get over the disappointment, and certainly we have seen that Goyer is willing to recast roles to suit the needs of the project. Hell, a handful of the character on Krypton, including General Zod himself, were also in Man of Steel and there were no actors shared between the projects.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the brilliant team that is Neil Gaiman, David S. Goyer, and Allan Heinberg to finally bring Neil’s iconic comic book series, The Sandman, to life onscreen,” Channing Dungey, VP, Original Series, Netflix, shared in a statement. “From its rich characters and storylines to its intricately built-out worlds, we’re excited to create an epic original series that dives deep into this multi-layered universe beloved by fans around the world.”
This official confirmation comes after a report that surfaced last week that the deal was moving forward.
Netflix describes the series, "A rich blend of modern myth and dark fantasy in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven, The Sandman follows the people and places affected by Morpheus, the Dream King, as he mends the cosmic--and human--mistakes he's made during his vast existence."
The Sandman marks only the latest chapter in the growing trend of studios turning to comic books to develop into TV series, in addition to Gaiman being a hot trend for shows, thanks to the success of American Gods and Good Omens, both based on his works.