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How ‘The Sandman’ and ‘Lucifer’ Offer Two Equally Brilliant Takes on the Same Source Material

Editor’s note: The below article contains spoilers for Netflix’s The Sandman.Despite being a part of the DC Universe, Netflix has been deep in the business of Neil Gaiman’s mythological characters from The Sandman. Of course, this is shown in the loving recreation of the original comics that has just been adapted into a TV show starring Tom Sturridge as Dream and featuring other iconic actors like Kirby Howell-Baptiste, David Thewlis, and Jenna Coleman. But given how different the two series are, one would be forgiven for missing that the Netflix show Lucifer, which wrapped up in summer of 2021, was also based on the same source material as The Sandman. That’s right, Tom Ellis’ take on the Devil is, at least in the comics, the same exact Satan played by Gwendoline Christie in Sandman.

In Gaiman’s comic book Sandman, Lucifer is a mischievous devil that is a bit of an amalgamation of different Satanic depictions across multiple faiths, religions, myths, and pop culture depictions. He also bears a striking resemblance to David Bowie. Feeling abandoned by his father and family, and unsatisfied with being the ruler of Hell, he ultimately decides to leave Hell to open a piano bar in LA in his own spin-off series. The TV show Lucifer largely was inspired by this spin-off series — the difference is that instead of a piano bar, it’s a nightclub, which is a pretty logical step to make for a TV show. In the show, Lucifer also becomes a consultant for the LAPD where he helps out Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) solve a bunch of grizzly murders. This is definitely a departure from the source material.

In the Lucifer TV show, the source material is more like a general guideline. It strays so much that it barely ever touches on the story from the corner of the DC universe that the Sandman lives in, and the only thing it really takes is the characters. Even then, a lot of the main characters, like Chloe, are completely original to the show. The characters that do come from the source, aren’t always a one-to-one translation either. Just looking at Lucifer himself, there are a lot of differences. Comparing Ellis’ take on the character to Christie’s in Sandman is a perfect illustration of that.


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