Sandman is one of the most famous comic series of all time. The Neil Gaiman-scripted Vertigo series centers around Morpheus, otherwise known as Dream, of the divinely powerful Endless. The series is finally coming to live-action in the form of a Netflix streaming series.
The Illuminerdi has seen the character breakdowns for the first season of Sandman, which indicates that the show will at least be – in part – expanding on the first arc of the series, “Preludes and Nocturnes” and potentially lengthening the storyline by setting some of it in the past.
WHAT THREE MAJOR CHARACTERS IN SANDMAN TELLS US ABOUT THE NEIL GAIMAN NETFLIX ADAPTATION?
As previously reported on by various outlets including CBR, the casting breakdowns of Morpheus and his enemy the Corinthian (who is being elevated from his role in the book to be a recurring character) have made their way to the internet. Morpheus appears to be very comics accurate, while the Corinthian (a minor antagonist in the original comics) will be more present in the show, at least initially. But the casting breakdowns also mentioned three other major players, who have a very specific role in the overall story of Sandman that hints at the direction of the season.
The first season will be adapting – at least in part – the events of the first issues of Sandman, specifically the story collected in Preludes and Noctures. It’s even likely that part of the season will be in a period-setting, as the early events of Sandman happened almost a hundred years before the main events of the series.
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Roderick Burgess will be an important character, but won’t be a consistent player in the series. Instead, his role is listed as Guest Star. This suggests he’ll still fill his minor, but vital role in the overarching story. Roderick was the man who tried to capture Death in a bid to become immortal towards the start of the 20th century.
But his attempt failed, and he instead captured Morpheus – Lord of the Dreaming. He held the Endless in this prison for the rest of his life – setting up Morpheus to travel through an unexplored world when he is finally released at the beginning of the story proper. It’s likely this will be the beginning of the show as well. However, the prominence of two other minor characters from the comic suggests that more time will be spent in this period.
Alex Burgess was the son of Roderick, who learned more about what his father had done and who he had imprisoned. Roderick eventually died and Alex took over as Morpheus’ watcher. Eventually becoming an old man himself, he tried to force Morpheus to grant him immortality. But in doing so, Alex accidentally breaks the containment spell that was holding the Endless at bay. This released Morpheus, who in turn tortured Burgess by trapping him in eternal waking – a perpetual state of always waking from a nightmare. There wasn’t much depth to the character in the original narrative.
But the character listing instead paints a picture of a much more sympathetic character. He may be involved in the plot to hold Morpheus at least at first, but he’s also described as being a bookish and conflicted young man who is trapped by his family’s legacy.
He’s also hinted to be exploring his sexuality, suggesting the show will explore that complicated growth in a time period where being open about your preferences is impossible. This could all make for a more compelling character – especially if he does follow through on his father’s wishes and end up in eternal waking, turning a minor but necessary player from the original series, into a more engaging role for the first season of the show.
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Ethel was an even more minor character than Alex, and is now listed as an important recurring character. She was Roderick’s mistress around the time he captured Morpheus. But she ended up leaving him – taking Morpheus’ helm, pouch, and ruby with her. Each of these items possesses magical powers. Ethel is hinted to be a crafty and seductive force of chaos. This means Ethel will actually get time to develop, potentially even getting her moments with Morpheus after he’s captured. What makes her most important however is what happens with one of the items she stole.
Although the other artifacts eventually ended up out of her possession, she ended up holding onto Dream’s Ruby. She eventually gave it over to her son John Dee, aka the villainous Doctor Destiny. This allowed him to briefly infect the world with his madness, making him one of the biggest threats Morpheus has to deal within Preludes and Nocturnes. It’s possible that her obsession with magic and the power it brings could even have her fulfill the role that her son did in the original comics.
As we learn more about Sandman, The Illuminerdi will make sure you stay informed about how the series develops.