Back in 1992, Image Comics put out the first issue of Spawn. A comic book whose titular character was a vengeful hellspawn of the devil. Al Simmons was once a man from Detroit who became a well respected and highly decorated Marine Colonel. Simmons eventually goes on the work for the CIA until the Director orders him dead. Simmons is murdered by his own team and goes to Hell due to all of his killing he has done. In an act of desperation, Simmons agrees to become a hellspawn and do the devil’s bidding if he is allowed to see his wife, Wanda, again. The deal is accepted, but his memory is also wiped. He roams the Earth for clues to piece together the fluttering memories of a life he does not remember. He eventually tracks down some CIA files that confirm his identity and finds his wife. When he does, he realizes that five years have past and she is remarried with his best friend Terry. They have a daughter named Cyan. Spawn avoids returning to Hell by limiting his power usage so he will not run out of Necroplasm, the source of his powers that will send him home when they are depleted. He travels our world looking for evil to snuff out in search of a new life purpose.
Todd McFarlane is the creator of Spawn. He even got to see his character come to life in the 1997 film adaptation starring Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo. While the movie became a cult classic and still garners a bit of fan support, it was not well received upon release. Jai White has stated that there was a very different film cut together by director Mark A.Z. Dippe, but studio notes and some last minute changes derailed the film. Important character scenes where replaced by nonsensical action bits and grandiose CGI moments that were hastily animated. All in all, he has fond memories of making the film, but it just came out to be something different than they had all been told. Spawn later received his own HBO series titled Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. The series brought on Keith David to voice the anti-hero and had creator Todd McFarlane in the lead writer seat. The show was highly acclaimed and was more in-line with the character McFarlane had designed Spawn to be.
McFarlane has been shopping around and pitching Spawn reboot film ideas to studios for years. For the longest, no studio wanted to go forth with a scary, R-rated superhero film. All of that changed after the success of Deadpool. It opened studio executives up to the idea of a more adult and dark take on the hero genre. Those successes have since continued with Logan and Deadpool 2. Because of this, McFarlane’s dream of a true-to-source Spawn film is being realized. The project was put into motion a while back with the creator in the director’s chair. At the moment, Blumhouse Productions is the company that plans to produce the film.
Here is what we know about the upcoming Spawn, so far:
Genre and Style
The film has been described as a supernatural horror with an R-rating. MacFarlane has said that the film is going to be a very dark and disturbing look at the character that is definitely not going to be family friendly. Thanks to the shifting tides with more mature comic book films, he can now create what he describes as a the terrifying movie Spawn should be.
Writing and Directing
Todd McFarlane has written the first draft of the screenplay and will be the project’s sole director. This will be the first feature film directed by McFarlane.
Production and Costumes
Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead) has been working with McFarlane on costumes, makeup design and aesthetic for the film. McFarlane has unofficially called him the second DP (Director of Photography). McFarlane has also stated he will not be using CGI for the suit transformations, like the original Spawn film or the recent Venom. He will be doing it “a different way.” He wants to mirror the monster transformations of old movies that took practical measures and camera tricks to get the job done. He feels that CGI is the easy way out.
In May of last year, Jamie Foxx signed on to play Spawn. It will be his second chance at a meaningful comic book film role after playing Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.Jeremy Renner has also signed on as police officer Twitch Williams. Renner is no stranger to comic book films as he has played Hawkeye in the MCU for the last eight years.
McFarlane has made it clear that this will not be another origin story for the character. For all intents and purposes, Foxx will not be playing Al Simmons. He will be playing Spawn, who is already the devil’s servant. The film’s main character will actually be Renner’s Twitch Williams.
The movie has not even officially gone into production yet. McFarlane is in the process of getting that in motion. The film is essentially in the same spot Deadpool was before Ryan Reynolds leaked the test footage or Gambit back when Channing Tatum was meeting with 20th Century Fox about screenplay drafts.
Hopefully we get more info soon and the film goes into production. After expecting horror based comic book movies out of Aquaman and Venom, but getting the swerve instead, it will be fitting to see Spawn be the property to bring that formula to the forefront.
Are you excited for Spawn? What other comic book characters could benefit from a horror film?