As the years go by, people are becoming more particular with their superhero movie choices. Sure, you could settle for Batman or Superman, popular characters who have been at the forefront of superhero culture for the past six decades, or you could choose to discover something new, something fresh. Or, you could discover something outside of the box, something that doesn’t fit into a family friendly mould. You will never run out of superheroes, if you look in the right places. After all, for every PG-13 rated movie out there, comic books have a plentiful roster of more mature, adult contemporaries waiting in the wings, just waiting to be discovered.
With Deadpool currently destroying box-office records, and doing its part for violent, sweary R-rated superhero action, it’s only a matter of time before other movies became the primary focus of the studios. There’s currently talk of producing several R-rated X-Men movies to coincide with this success, according to Screen Rant, but before that happens, we might see the return of an old favourite from days gone by. Faded, but not forgotten, Spawn has been absent for the better part of 20 years after a poor outing in 1997, but screenwriter Todd McFarlane has confirmed that he’s been working on a new Spawn script — and the demonic anti-hero might be on our screens soon, because it’s now complete.
“I’ve finished the script, and I’m in the process of editing. It’s 183 pages, and [producers] usually like 120. I still think it’s going to end up being about 140, because I’m putting in details for myself. I want to keep it small, keep it tight, so they’ll let me direct it! I need to get him back up on the big screen again to make him relevant in a big way, which we will do.”
According to McFarlane, the trimming is necessary to entertain the idea of casting and securing a crew. 183 pages is a huge ask for a superhero movie, and even his proposed idea of 140 is bordering on obscene. In movie script terms, one page equals one minute, so he is currently looking at a film that stands well over two hours, which is fine for blockbusters like The Avengers or Batman, but not so much for a less familiar character. Spawn has a cult following due to the long-running comic books and action figures — which were also created by Todd McFarlane, see below — but has yet to appeal to a mainstream audience, so a lower budget and run-time might be a better, more viable aim. For now, anyway.
No details have been confirmed, but the film is expected to begin at Spawn’s origins — a plot device to introduce the character to the masses, and audiences not so familiar with his adventures. The origin story is complex and violent, not to mention detailed and mature. For a story about a highly trained soldier who is resurrected after being sent to hell, well, you’d expect nothing less. The length of the projected script screams exposition, something often included to appeal to mainstream audiences. In a world where a decent first outing for a superhero usually equals franchise, McFarlane will probably be looking to pull out all the stops to ensure the character remains relevant amongst the smorgasbord of superheroes currently on offer today.
As mentioned, McFarlane is looking to direct the film himself. A passionate Spawn fan, the script could become something of a personal tribute from McFarlane, one that gives the demonic character the outing he deserves. It could be an incredibly faithful adaptation from a fan who loves the brutal source material, and would definitely border on the R-rated boundary. With Deadpool proving that R-rated can mean profit, it could be the opening that allows films like Spawn to capitalise, and receive the big-screen treatment they finally deserve.
The original Spawn was released in 1997, and starred Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, and Martin Sheen. The film was panned by critics for various reasons, despite being a moderate success at the box-office. The main reason for its failure was multiple changes to the complicated source material, something that will always irk the die-hard fans. However, in 1997, superhero movies were still seen as an impossible feat, something that completely changed in 2000. With a whole wave of characters in Hollywood, and an accepting audience, the violence and blood-letting of Spawn might be just the ticket for a crowd who are always willing to see something fresh, bigger, or bolder.
After all, it worked for Deadpool.
No release date is available for Spawn at present, but expect more details to surface in due course.
[Image via Image Comics]