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Neil Gaiman on Why ‘The Sandman’ Isn’t in the DC Universe Anymore: ‘It Wandered Off Into Its Own Place’

As Gaiman worked on the show he realized the story's setting was "less and less a world in which costumed crime fighters fly around."

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Neil Gaiman spent years preventing mediocre film and television adaptations of his beloved graphic novel “The Sandman” from ever seeing the light of day. So when he not only gave his blessing to the new Netflix series, but also signed on as a co-writer and executive producer, fans knew they would be getting a faithful take on the source material.

Still, fans immediately noticed one significant change. The “Sandman” graphic novels, which were published by DC, existed firmly in the DC Comics universe, with characters occasionally interacting with beloved superheroes. One might think that, in an age of multiverses, the Netflix series would jump at the chance to loop other characters in. But Gaiman and co-creators David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg opted to set the series in a standalone universe.

In a new interview with Variety, Gaiman opened up about the choice, explaining that his vision for the show seemed increasingly incompatible with a world in which superheroes are real.

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

While the Netflix series made the decision to differentiate itself from the DC Universe, Gaiman believes that it still captured the essence of his original comic books.

“’Sandman’ as a graphic novel series, as comics, was me getting to say things to the world that I believed,” Gaiman said. “There were things about inclusivity. There were things about humanity. There were things about shared humanity. There were things about dreams and things about death. There were words of comfort and there were words of warning. And back then when I said them, they were important and I felt that they were true and I felt it was right to say them; including, you have your story and your story is important, and including, you get a lifetime. And those are the things I wanted to say. And I don’t feel that any of those things are less important or less relevant now.”

“The Sandman” is now streaming on Netflix.

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