The ultimate 90s anti-hero returns to take advantage of the R-Rated success of ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool.’
Few characters had as strong a stranglehold on the comic book market in the 1990s than Spawn. Creator Todd McFarlane was one of several illustrators who ripped himself away from Marvel Entertainment to form the creator-owned Image Comics. For nearly a decade, these rock star artists drove the speculative market. Titles like “Spawn” and “Youngblood” sold in the millions, which is an astronomical figure that no comic book today could claim.
At the height of his status, McFarlane sold the film rights of Spawn to New Line Cinema in 1997. The less said about that film, the better, but you might find a fan or two around the FSR office. While not a complete box office disaster (the movie earned a global total of $87 million at a production budget of $40 million), the fan and critical reception was devastating. Spawn was not the next Batman.
However, McFarlane never gave up the ghost. After years of promises, Marvel’s one-time golden boy convinced Blumhouse to resurrect the costumed superhero. The idea was to go small with the budget, embrace the horrific roots of the character, and crank out a nasty little action flick with a demonic bite. Sounds great, but even with the maestros behind Get-Out and Split backing him, I could not bring myself into thinking this fantasy would actually happen. Shame on me.
One should never doubt the man who left the cushion of Marvel to form an empire out of his own bliss. According to Deadline, Jamie Foxx has boarded the Spawn reboot. The man who fumbled Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 wants another crack at the superhero business.
— Todd McFarlane (@Todd_McFarlane) May 29, 2018
I think we can let ourselves get excited once again. Forget the pain of ’97. The past is the past. Despite the glut of costumed maniacs jumping from blockbuster to blockbuster, we are hungry for a vigilante of Spawn’s nightmarish nature.
Al Simmons is a black-ops hitman who is murdered by his CIA superior after he questions the ethics motivating the government’s actions. Due to a life of slaughter, Simmons awakens in Hell. The demon Malebolgia offers him a chance to return to his world. Desperate to reunite with his wife, Simmons accepts the bargain.
Flash forward five years later, this Hellspawn stalks the alleys of New York City with very little memory of the man he was before. As his old life begins to seep back into his brain, Spawn rejects the underworld’s mission and uses his powers to aid those he deems worthy of rescue. The villains he battles come in the forms of hobgoblin clowns, pedophile ice cream men, and angelic assassins.
The “anti-hero” label is often tossed about when discussing Simmons. He’s not an outright evil creature, but he’s quick to kill the bad guys. He shares the morality of Django Unchained. Love is his ultimate mission, and he will stoop to whatever depths to reunite with his wife even if she doesn’t recognize the monster he’s become.
McFarlane has firmly planted himself in the director’s chair this time around. If someone is going to ruin his character, it’s going to be him. Blumhouse is looking to bring the movie in under $12 million, and McFarlane is determined to deliver a hard-R.
Spawn has the potential to ruffle some feathers. He’s an ugly, twisted creation that flies in the face of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Just as Logan and Deadpool proved, there is an audience out there for comic book oddities.
Replication is not the key to superhero longevity. Variation is the component to strive towards. As we know, Electro by Joel Schumacher’s Riddler leads only to disaster. Jaime Foxx reaching towards Faustian torment is a concoction we have not quite seen before in this genre. If McFarlane can keep Spawn genuine, we might have a serious new contender in the field.