A famous comedic star voices Matthew the Raven in Netflix's The Sandman. Executive produced by Neil Gaiman, The Sandman is the long-awaited adaptation of his beloved DC Comics graphic novels. The Sandman stars Tom Sturridge as Dream of the Endless AKA Morpheus, the master of dreams, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, and Jenna Coleman as Lady Johanna Constantine. But one of the pivotal figures in the dark supernatural fantasy is Dream's raven, Matthew, whose voice actor is only heard but never seen.
When The Sandman begins, Morpheus is captured by a British mage named Roderick Burgess (Charles Dance). The self-styled Magus intended to bind Death to his will but he inadvertently caught Dream instead. Robbed of his powerful tools of office, his helm, ruby, and pouch of dream sand, Morpheus is held prisoner for over a century. When he finally escapes, Dream embarks on a quest to retrieve his stolen items and repair his broken realm, the Dreaming. This mission takes the Sandman into the waking world and even Hell itself, where Dream must confront the ruler of the underworld, Lucifer Morningstar (Gwendoline Christie). Thankfully, throughout his adventures, Morpheus has Matthew, his loyal raven, at his side.
In The Sandman, there's no mistaking the voice of Patton Oswalt as Matthew the Raven. The popular comedian is a diehard comic book fan with impeccable geek cred. Along with his revered standup comedy and his appearances in hit comedies like Parks and Recreation, Oswalt also portrayed the many Koenig siblings in Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In fact, Oswalt was the first actor cast in The Sandman, preceding even Tom Sturridge's casting as Dream. Oswalt voices Matthew as bewildered and literally winging it as he just recently died and transformed into a supernatural raven when he meets Morpheus in The Sandman. Matthew is even confused as to who his boss is as he reports to the Dreaming's librarian, Lucienne (Vivienne Acheampong), even though Matthew's purpose is to be by Dream's side as his eyes and ears.
Matthew the Raven ties The Sandman to the greater DC Universe. Gaiman borrowed Matthew for The Sandman comics from Alan Moore's Swamp Thing, where he was a man named Matthew Cable before he died and turned into the raven of Dream. In the Swamp Thing comics, Matthew Cable was an investigative agent who teamed with Abigail Arcane to pursue the monster known as the Swamp Thing. Cable died and was reborn as Matthew the Raven in The Sandman. Matthew was played by Henderson Wade in the DC Universe TV series Swamp Thing. Although intended to be the same character in origin, Oswalt's Matthew is a new and separate incarnation. Yet it may be possible that Swamp Thing exists in Netflix's Sandman universe the way the two supernatural characters are part of the DC Comics Universe.
The reason Matthew becomes a raven in The Sandman is to replace Dream's previous raven, Jessamy. In The Sandman comics, Jessamy was Morpheus' loyal raven in the 1700s and Matthew is his raven in the present day. Netflix's The Sandman includes Jessamy in the premiere episode, "Sleep of the Just," and the raven keeps an eye on Dream while he's Roderick Burgess' prisoner. But when Jessamy is murdered by Roderick's son Alex (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth), the forlorn Dream decides he must not have another raven. Thankfully, Matthew arrives to take his place at Dream's side as his raven anyway, and Morpheus' banter with Patton Oswalt's Matthew the Raven provides some appreciated levity in The Sandman.
The Sandman Season 1 is streaming on Netflix.