The first of actual concrete news regarding a new Spawn adaptation has finally arrived! After years of rumors and discussions and updates on scripts, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn will be heading to the theaters, thanks to Horror studio Blumhouse Productions, who recently brought us hits like Get Out and Split. Spawn was previously seen on the big screen in 1997 – though most would like to forget that PG-13 effects’ focused outing – and on the far superior HBO animated series, which helped to sustain the fans as this new film developed over the last few years.
Todd McFarlane has written the first draft of the script, and will also be directing the film, one of his stipulations that possibly added to the delay of getting the movie made. Luckily Blumhouse has a history of giving first-time directors a chance with their unique style of low budget horror, so it could be the perfect fit for McFarlane and Spawn. McFarlane revealed a bit more about how his deal with Blumhouse came together during a recent interview with Vulture:
In 2017, we got to break the news on the Spawn movie after me sort of teasing the fandom and saying I’m working on the script. I finally finished the script in February. But there are literally thousands of scripts in Hollywood. So what you need to do is actually attach real people to a project to make it actually happen. So we announced that the producer of movies like The Purge and Insidious, Paranormal Activity and, more recently, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split — who just announced Glass with them, too — and Get Out, which was a giant hit in Hollywood. The thing that’s in common with all of those movie franchises is [they’re produced by] the same production house, called Blumhouse, run by a guy named Jason Blum.
So a couple of days ago, Jason and I got married, and we go, “Let’s go make a Spawn movie.” And here’s what he does: He does R-rated, dark, low-budget movies. And the reason I say low-budget is not because we hope it looks low-budget, but I wrote a low-budget script because I’m going to be directing. So I always wanted the next version to be something I wrote, produced, and directed, and we’re on our way. It’s going to happen.
He also explained the type of movie he wants to do, and how it strays from the typical superhero film.
I want to do a dark, non-superhero, supernatural thriller that will just scare you at times, just mess you up, and has weird, odd stuff.
Look, Spawn comes from the world of comic books. So, by its very nature, the de facto definition, people are going to [assume it’s a] superhero movie. Because he came out of the gate when we started Image Comics, myself and some of my partners, and he’s got the typical stuff. The costume, the powers, alter ego and all those other things, the trappings of a superhero. The big PG-13 movies that are now in Hollywood right now, The Avengers and Justice League and Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, those movies are rocking. And they’re doing great. But I knew that if I wanted to direct, I’m not going to be able to do something that’s $100 million and ask them to put a new director behind it. So I needed to come up with something that was tight.
On some of his horror inspirations for the film:
The movies I watched when I was a kid were movies that, if you took the one fantastic element out of it, the rest of the movie was completely real. So even if you look at a movie like The Omen, if you take Damien out, there’s nothing else fantastic in the movie. It’s a real world. If you took Regan out of The Exorcist. Even going back to when I was a kid, if you took Frankenstein out of the original black-and-white [Frankenstein], the doctor and Igor and everyone else in that movie was still human. And so that, to me, falls into more what you consider to be horror movies, if you will, today. Once you take the Jasons out of it, or the Freddy Kruegers, everything else is real. There’s not a bad guy or a good guy. They don’t have a headquarters, they don’t have ray guns, they don’t have cars and all that other stuff.
And how that approach affects the new Spawn film:
The lead isn’t really Spawn. Which was always sort of odd when I was pitching it for years and years to Hollywood. And then I remember telling them the Spawn character himself doesn’t talk. And I remember Hollywood getting weird on me, saying, “What do you mean? How can you have a movie and the title character doesn’t talk?” And I go, “Well, I understand your reservation. But when I was a kid, I saw this movie. I don’t know if you guys ever saw it, you can get on Netflix. It’s called Jaws. And if you ever saw it, the lead character in that movie didn’t have a lot of talking lines.” What that movie was about was the humans, the catalyst. And the catalysts were Sheriff Brody and a couple of the other people, like the captain and the scientist that were on the boat. And the monster, which was the shark, would make his appearance when needed to actually get you jumpy. You know, I’m way more in that world. And so the lead character is a cop. A character called Twitch, who’s been in the books since issue No. 1. So he’s been around for the same 276 issues.
It’s just sort of his journey as he’s trying to deal with his own fallen world and his own sanity. [Makes whooshing noise.] Something is moving in the background. The shadows are moving around. And so, you know, is it real? Is he going insane? What is it? And then, you know, I’m not going to ever have Spawn in a latex suit, standing there going, “I am here, boys and girls, and I will save you and your day will be grand.” No, no. It’s just going to be moments where things are gonna happen and then, like a shark in black water [makes sound of shark attacking] and you’re going to be gone. He’s just gonna take you out. Spawn is a character that isn’t owned by corporate America. And so he doesn’t play by the same rules as Superman and Batman. And so when he takes you out, he doesn’t worry about whether he’s hurting you. Spawn is the guy that would have killed the Joker a long time ago.
He also gave a bit of an update on the previously announced Sam & Twitch series from Kevin Smith on BBC America:
So the lead character in the movie, Twitch, we’re also developing off to the side a Sam and Twitch show on BBC America. We hope to get some good news, that they say, “Yeah, yeah, we’re going to give you a go on that.” So we’re waiting. Hopefully in the next couple weeks they tell us. Kevin Smith is attached to that, to write and direct those episodes. He’s got a different voice than I do, and I don’t believe it’s fair for me to come onto something like Sam and Twitch and say, “Hey Kevin” — who has his own unique voice — “don’t do your stuff. Do my stuff.” Because, at that point, why wouldn’t they just hire me? They hired, and we picked. I was part of the process of picking Kevin Smith for a reason.
As for who McFarlane might cast for his lead role(s):
You know, given that the big lead was Twitch, when I was writing, I had Leonardo DiCaprio in my head. I don’t know if people have seen The Wolf of Wall Street, but there was a manic-ness in him. He was able to go up and down and up and down. It was almost dizzying, emotionally, to go with him. And there are parts in this movie where I’m gonna need an actor to be able to make those moves, both in terms of normality, in terms of manic, in terms of anger and in terms of joy, and be able to go to some extremes in it. But will we ask? I’m sure we’ll ask. But again, you’re shooting for the moon.
Here’s what I think. I think we can get a good character, a good actor. I’ve talked to a couple big-name actors already for that role. I think we can get it because, again, I think I can shoot that character in about 20, 25 days. And I don’t need them to go to the gym and get into spandex, because I’m going to do all the creep stuff practical, like you do on most thriller horror movies. And then, the Twitch character, which is the lead, I’m hoping I can find a really, really top-flight actor who I can say, “Lookit, I know you’ve been dubious about going into a ‘superhero movie,’ but here’s the gig: You can be in a superhero movie, you can be the lead. You get the most camera time, you get the most lines, you don’t have to go to the gym and you don’t have to wear any spandex. And you will be the guy. What I need you to do is just act your rear end off as good as you can, and you will be in a superhero movie.” And I know there are people in that city that are sitting on that fence, and I may be able to push one or two of them over.
It’s definitely exciting to hear some solid movement on this reboot to help move on from the terrible ’90s film starring Michael Jai White. We’re excited to see this interesting take on Spawn, especially with the focus on Twitch and the potential actors that could really make that role their own. We’ll keep you updated as more news on Blumhouse and Todd McFarlane’s Spawn as it develops.
Images: Image Comics, HBO, New Line Cinema