The Sandman: Neil Gaiman Explains Why Netflix Series Recast Lucifer

Last week, Netflix finally revealed the core cast of its upcoming television series based on The Sandman, the beloved DC Comics series written by Neil Gaiman. However, this isn't the first television series on Netflix that's built on The Sandman. Lucifer, starring Tom Ellis, is inspired by the version of Lucifer that Gaiman and artists Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg created for Sandman, who eventually got his own Vertigo Comics spinoff series. Knowing that, and knowing that Netflix is the home of both Sandman and Lucifer, some fans wonder why Gwendoline Christie is playing Lucifer in Sandman instead of having Ellis reprise his role as the Morningstar. Gaiman explained while responding to a fan's question about that on Tumblr.

"The theology and cosmogony of Lucifer is a long way from Sandman's," Gaiman says. "It's 'inspired by' Sandman, but you can't easily retrofit the Lucifer version to get back to Sandman, if you see what I mean. It seemed easier and more fun to have the Sandman version of Lucifer be, well, much closer to the Sandman version of Lucifer."

Speaking to ComicBook.com and other press ahead of the debut of Audible Sandman adaptation (which has been renewed for two more seasons), Gaiman explained that he's approaching the Netflix show as if he's writing Sandman for the first time in the 21st century. That means updates to the timeline, tweaks to storylines, and -- as he hinted at the time -- some gender swaps for characters like Lucifer.

"[D]oing the Netflix TV series, we're very much looking at that as going, 'Okay, it is 2020, let's say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do? How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?'" he said.

"For Netflix right now, people have tried making some movies and TV adaptations for 30 years, and actively tried making them for 25 years, and they've never worked," Gaiman continued, referring to Sandman's long journey to live-action. "And they never worked because of all the special effects and what would be needed to do the special effects. They never worked because you were making something that was adult. People would write Sandman movie scripts, and they go, 'But it's an R-rated movie, and we can't have $100 million R-rated movies.' So, that wouldn't happen. You needed to get to a world in which long-form storytelling is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. And the fact that we have seventy-five issues of Sandman plus -- essentially, 13 full books -- worth of material, is a really good thing. It's not a drawback. It's on our side. And the fact that we're in a world in which we can take things that only existed in comic book art, and that can now exist in reality."

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The Sandman is now in production. Lucifer will return to Netflix with the second half of its fifth season and its sixth and final season.