The Sandman: Neil Gaiman explains why new Netflix series doesn’t live in DC universe

Neil Gaiman has explained why Netflix’s newest series, The Sandman, does not exist in the DC universe.

The drama is an adaptation of the author’s graphic novels of the same name, which follows the titular Sandman (played by Tom Sturridge), who’s been held prisoner for centuries and must travel across worlds and timelines to mend the chaos that’s ensued in his absence.

Gaiman’s comics were originally published by Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, between 1986 and 1996.

In the first two volumes, on which the show’s debut season – released today (5 August) – is based, there are direct references to other characters from the broader DC universe.

However, according to Variety, a majority of those links and connections have either largely been altered or removed entirely from Netflix’s live-action series.

One example includes a moment from the books when John Dee (played by David Thewlis in the series) is residing in the Arkham Asylum – the infamous prison for Gotham City’s criminally insane – and his appearance closely resembles DC’s Doctor Destiny, a villain of the Justice League.

Meanwhile, the show’s John is given the appearance of a normal man and lives in a nondescript mental institution.

Speaking to the outlet, Gaiman, who executive produced the show, revealed why they ultimately decided to take their series beyond the DC universe.

Tom Sturridge in ‘The Sandman’ (COURTESY OF NETFLIX)
Tom Sturridge in ‘The Sandman’ (COURTESY OF NETFLIX)

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,” he said.

“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.”

Gaiman added: “Which meant that by the time The Sandman finished, it had its own aesthetic which really wasn’t the DC Universe anymore.

“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 recently issued a message condemning “hostile” fans trying to “gate-keep” the Netflix series.

Despite the British writer’s preference to keep the two worlds separate, he still managed to pay homage to the original character’s roots through a dream sequence in which abducted boy Jed (Eddie Karanja) pictures himself as the colourful superhero version of the Sandman, created in the 1970s by comic book artists Jack Kirby and Joe Simon.

“We love DC Comics,” Gaiman said. “Bringing the Jack Kirby-Joe Simon Sandmanas a 12-year-old kid’s dreams was an enormous dream.”

Read The Independent’s three-star review of The Sandman here.

The Sandman is available to stream on Netflix now.