The Sandman: Neil Gaiman Explains Why Netflix Series Isn't Part of the DC Universe

Netflix's new hit series The Sandman is based on a DC Comics series set in the DC Universe, the same universe with superheroes like Batman and Superman, but the television is not. In fact, several DC Comics characters who appear in the first volumes of The Sandman comic book are removed or replaced in the television series. The DC logo doesn't appear ahead of The Sandman's episodes, which instead show only the Warner Bros. Television introduction. Some may wonder if this has anything to do with the recent controversial decisions made by Warner Bros. Discovery regarding the DC brand. The Sandman co-creator Neil Gaiman, who also works on the show, says that's not the case.

"The Sandman itself started out in the DC Universe, the comic, and then it just sort of wound up wandering off into its own place," Gaiman tells Variety. "Its world joined up more and more with our world and became less and less a world in which costumed crime fighters fly around and so on, which meant that by the time The Sandman finished, it had its own aesthetic which really wasn't the DC Universe anymore."

It is true that the earlier issues of The Sandman include appearances by members of the Justice League and Batman's rogue's gallery while the later issues bear little evidence of being part of the DC Comics universe. In fact, after attempting to turn John Constantine (replaced by Johanna Constantine in the show) into a superhero character during The New 52 era, a whole Hellblazer one-shot was dedicated to restoring John to his Sandman Universe self. However, there are a few instances of The Sandman characters showing up in other DC Comics series, such as Death encountering Lex Luthor in Action Comics, suggesting the two are still technically the same.

Regardless, "We didn't want a TV show where you felt that you had to have read a whole bunch of comics published in 1988 and 1989 to understand what was going on," Gaiman added. He noted that the Justice League of that era -- featuring characters like the Martian Manhunter and Mister Miracle -- disbanded in the 1990s, which would only add to the confusion of having them appear in The Sandman today.

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The Sandman's first season is now streaming on Netflix. Though Netflix has not officially renewed the series yet, writers are already at work crafted episodes for The Sandman's second season