The recent prevalence and acceptance of R-rated comic book storylines, thanks mainly to the Deadpool franchise, sets the stage nicely for the return of everyone’s favorite demonic anti-hero. For the young ones who aren’t familiar, Spawn is a comic book character created by legendary artist Todd McFarlane for Image comics. It was a massive hit in the '90s and was largely responsible for putting Image Comics on the map as serious contenders against Marvel and DC.
It tells the story of Albert Francis Simmons, a Force Recon operative who was recruited by the CIA to carry out black ops missions. Simmons eventually grows a conscience and questions the necessity of what they are doing, which leads to him being assassinated by his own team. He goes to hell because of the sins he committed as a black ops operative but manages to strike a deal with a demon named Malebolgia. Simmons promises to give Malebolgia his soul in exchange for a chance to see his wife. He is then sent back to the world of the living as a hellspawn, only to realize that five years have passed since his death and that his wife has remarried and has a daughter with his best friend, Terry Fitzgerald. As the memory of his former life slowly comes back, Spawn transforms his appearance to Terry and makes love to his wife. She then gets pregnant, which begins the prophecy that their child will one day decide the fate of reality.
Apart from the comics, it, err, spawned a movie starring Michael Jai White, Martin Sheen, and John Leguizamo:
An animated series:
And a toy line:
Although the comeback of Spawn to the silver screen is something McFarlane has been teasing for a while now, it regained some buzz with the casting of Oscar winner Jamie Foxx as Al Simmons. The production is still in its early stages and there is no specific date of release mentioned yet. However, McFarlane wrote the screenplay and will be directing the movie as well—something that has fans excited as he will get full creative control. But despite the tentative (title of the film) being SPAWN, the story will actually revolve around Twitch, a detective who has fought against and alongside Spawn in the past. It is an interesting take that if done correctly, might just work.
As McFarlane envisions it, the reboot will be a trilogy and will follow more of a horror film feel than a superhero one. “The scariest movies, from Jaws to John Carpenter’s The Thing, or The Grudge or The Ring, the boogeyman does not talk,” McFarlane explains in his interview with Deadline. He further expounds on his idea by saying “it confuses people because of the comic book industry, and because they all default to their Captain America mindset and I keep on saying, no, get into John Carpenter’s or Hitchcock. This is not a man in a rubber suit, it is not a hero that’s going to come and save the damsel. It’s none of that. At the end of the movie, I’m hoping that the audience will say either, is this a ghost that turns into a man, or is it a man that turns into a ghost? I’ve got a trilogy in mind here, and I’m not inclined in this first movie to do an origin story. I’m mentally exhausted from origin stories. Luckily, there’s a movie that just came out that helps my cause. In A Quiet Place, the first thing on screen is a card in black and white letters that says Day 89. It doesn’t care about what happened in those first 88 days. There are a couple headlines, but then we are on day 450. That movie doesn’t worry about explaining and giving all the answers. What it said in that case was, if you can hang on for a story of survival of this family, this movie will make complete sense for you.”
As for choosing Jamie Foxx, McFarlane is very specific, “There are five or six moments where I’m going to need things from my actors, and a couple of them have to come from Jamie, and I’ve seen him deliver them onscreen,” McFarlane shares. Definitely, adding a star like Foxx to the cast will bring more drama to Spawn as compared to Michael Jai White, who was really more of an action star. Let's just hope that McFarlane, who will be making his directorial debut with the film, is up to the task.