Netflix has begun its journey into the Dreaming. On Saturday of San Diego Comic-Con inside Hall H, Netflix brought the first major look at The Sandman, the long-awaited adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s gothic fantasy epic long thought to be un-filmable. Based on the previews, the team behind The Sandman has very much done the impossible.
Neil Gaiman was present alongside the show’s cast and producers to reveal what’s to come in Netflix’s buzzy new series, which begins streaming on August 5.
“What I’m really excited about is the fact that, in less than two weeks, everybody is going to get to see what we’ve made,” Gaiman said to kick off the panel, which was moderated by Mythbusters alum Kari Byron. “I’m so thrilled that it’s here. I love what we’ve done. It feels really good.”
The panel screened three exclusive clips from the series — all of them adaptations of the comics’ most memorable moments from the first volume — along with an explosive series trailer. The first clip, which served as a de facto cold open for the panel, is inspired by the sixth issue of The Sandman in which the evil Dr. Dee (David Thewlis) takes control over the patrons in a diner for a full 24 hours.
A second clip came from episode three, based on the third issue of the comic “Dream A Little Dream of Me.” The scene centered around Jenna Coleman’s Johanna Constantine, who is consulted by Morpheus for her expertise in demon hunting. Constantine performs a hastened wedding ceremony that is secretly Constantine weeding out a demon from the bickering lovebirds.
A third clip featuring series star Tom Sturridge shows off his talents as Morpheus. It was inspired by the eighth issue of the comic where Death finds Morpheus feeding pigeons in the park. While Sturridge is stoic and cold as an emotionally compromised Morpheus, co-star Kirby Howell-Baptiste showed Death as comparatively more fiery and active, and demanding to know why her brother is basically the sad anthropomorphic representation he is.
And of course, there is the trailer, which shows The Sandman as a metaphysical action series with a lot of surreal imagery, but not too strange to turn off the average Netflix viewer.
You can watch the trailer below.
All told, The Sandman is impressively shaping up to be a moody and spiritual odyssey while still maintaining firm footing as a mystery drama.
“I think I’m incredibly lucky that nobody has wanted to change what we did,” Gaiman said at the panel. While the series does make some important changes, most obviously in some of the characters, Gaiman talked up the general faithfulness the series will have to the iconic comic book.
Gaiman did acknowledge that the most “faithful” adaptation of The Sandman was the recent Audible production, which Gaiman described as basically an audiobook version of the comic. Since a faithful rendition of The Sandman exists in one form, it allowed the series to pursue some changes.
“It kind of freed us a little bit in making this,” Gaiman said. “We’re making television. I was making comics that was 24 pages in each comic, and maybe seven panels on the page. I could only do so much. Now we have things that move around. How are we going to make people laugh? Make people cry?”
While it wasn’t on the table at Comic-Con, one question that remains after the panel is whether Netflix can rely on The Sandman to be another major hit at a time when the streaming giant seemingly needs it the most. Does Netflix have its next Strange Things in The Sandman, or will it keep dreaming? We’ll find out soon enough.
The Sandman will begin streaming on August 5.