Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid you hear the ‘news’? Todd McFarlane, Spawn creator, is said to be working on a reboot/sequel of Spawn (as he has been for the past decade or so). It will be lower budget (for the creative freedom, ie more gore and swearing) and focus on horror/thriller rather than the wham bam ‘you can have what’s left of the Empire State Building back’ fighty shenanigans of your more typical comic book movie.
He’s been banging on about this for years, but now he’s totally serious dagnabbit. Even if he has to do it himself, in stop-motion with mannequins on his iPhone and cut with Instagram-level filters. That actually sounds like it might be a pretty good shout for an evening down the cinema.
Al Simmons is a public sector black ops assassin who has a change of heart when he realises that the government isn’t all roses. One would have thought that the fact one is employed to kill people furtively without a proper legal footing would’ve been a red flag.
He gets there eventually.
It’s not a line of work that offers much in the way of retirement benefits, so he’s himself brutally murdered by his own employers. In Hell he makes a deal to sell his soul in exchange for one last glimpse of his wife.
Again, one would’ve thought that when dealing with a horned, fanged and fiery demon of Hell, one would at least skim the fine print, or get a lawyer (it’s Hell – there’s not exactly a shortage of the buggers). But Al’s not that smart.
So he wakes up 5 years later as a hellspawn charged with leading Hell’s armies against Heaven. And finds that his wife has hooked up with his best friend. They have a kid old enough that they definitely got it on at the wake (in the last movie at least). Al/Spawn, becomes an anti-hero fighting the denizens of Heaven and Hell alike, plus human scumbags etc etc.
There’s also a clown/demon called The Clown.
It was corralled onto the silver screen back in ’97. You’d be forgiven for giving it a wide berth, because not to put too fine a point on it the movie blows in every way. Plot, direction, acting, special effects – you name it, it’s…not good. Considering the cast included Martin Sheen and John Leguizamo (and Gambol from The Dark Knight!), that’s pretty baffling.
But McFarlane reckons he can do the character justice and exorcise those demons, pun very much intended. And as long as you don’t mind a hero with an IQ lower than a very low thing indeed, he’s a pretty interesting character.
A literal monster seeking to reclaim the humanity he arguably never had in the first place is a helluva’ character arc. Or at least a variation on the standard:
“loser-loner-outsider gets special powers, loses someone important, learns a lesson, beats down a tennis ball on a stick that in the final edit looks like everything else does in the final edit of every other film for the past 7 years (pixels, teeth, claws, sigh). In 3D, unless we’re finally done with that.”
McFarlane wants to write, direct and produce, to which the response must surely be ‘sweetheart…no.’ After all, long-gestating pet projects driven exclusively by 1 ego vision that become excellent, not-at-all self-indulgent/impenetrable messes can be counted on the fingers of no hands.
Also, our Todd doesn’t have behind-the-camera experience.
But that’s just the voice of concern breaking out – after all, all directors have to start somewhere, and idiosyncratic control freak voices gave us the works of Kubrick, Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. That’s overegging the pudding a bit.
Although come to think of it, Rodriguez would be a damn fine choice for director, especially if it aims for a mature rating.
As for acting talent, Oscar winner Jamie Foxx is alleged to be aggressively pursuing it – that’s like running AND shouting at the same time. So you know he’s serious.
With a core audience nailed on for tickets and merchandise, a promise of a low-ish budget to minimise risk (and allow for some genuine creativity) and a heavyweight actor heading things up, this one might go the distance and actually, y’know, happen. Whisper it; it might even be distinctive, perhaps even interesting cinema.
And as for the subject matter – former government agent with an attack of conscience blowing the lid on alleged nefarious government activities committed in an equally alleged moral vacuum in the name of the people – it’s about as hot button topical as you can get. Hopefully they’ll allow for some nuance in place of the binary hero/traitor debate currently serving as a source of some embarrassment for certain governments.
Spawn of The Dead
The box office takings of the movie Dredd (more on that another time), might disagree, but the market can stand a different category of comic book movie. They don’t all have to be child-friendly megabudget monsters – there’s room for something cheaper and more adult (violent), adult (grown-up) or adult (…they don’t really have those kinds of cinemas anymore since the internet).
After all, the movie The Crow did all the above and was still a reasonable success. That’s logic, yo.
It won’t be nominated for Best Film Oscar – Spawn on The Fourth of July, if you like – but there’s clearly some potential in all this. After all, all they have to do is the exact opposite of what the film-makers did back in the 90s. That’s also logic. Yes it is.
Or maybe we’ll be here in another 10 years’ time wondering what’s happening with that damned Spawn remake.