As a teenager in the 1990s, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn was my absolute favorite comic book. It was all hell and gore and weapons and sexy ladies. At 15, what more could I have asked for? A good movie, for starters. The one that came out in 1997 starring Michael Jai White was not that. Now, though, Todd McFarlane’s is working on a fresh take on the character, and his latest interview actually has me kind of excited. This is not an origin movie, though.
In an interview with Yahoo!, McFarlane spoke about the influences he’s taking in for this version of the character.
“[The story is] all original, other than the characters” he said. “To me, this story is my way of saying, ‘Spawn’s been around for 25 years, and he’s been evolving for 25 years. This is where he’s at now.’ I can’t do the same story over and over… I’m bored with it!”
Instead of focusing on Spawn’s origins, the movie will put a cop named Twitch in the role of the main protagonist. Twitch has been in the comics right since the beginning.
“I refer to him as my sheriff Brody, who is the sheriff in the Jaws movie,” McFarlane said in an interview with ComicBook.com this summer. “Although it’s called Jaws, Jaws didn’t really talk a lot in his movie, right? He just kind of showed up at the opportune time to make the movie worthwhile.”
Jaws is still a focal point for McFarlane and one of the big influences on how he thinks about Spawn.
“I always come back to Jaws… that shark was enormous,” he said. “And at anytime in the movie, did they tell me why the shark was so damn big? No! All that mattered was that it was big and in the same vicinity as humans.”
John Carpenter’s seminal sci-fi horror film The Thing sits in a similar place, McFarlane says.
“Where do the aliens come from? I don’t know. What was its reason for taking over bodies? I don’t know! It just was. I’m okay without an origin. Just give me a compelling story, scare the s*** out of me.”
But he’s nervous about calling the movie straight-up horror.
“I think of Spawn as supernatural. It doesn’t mean gore or violence, it just means creepy, odd, bizarre, weird stuff. When I was younger, Jacob’s Ladder was awesome. I still remember that movie because it unsettled me enough that I couldn’t get it out of my brain. I Hope I can get a little bit of that into Spawn.”
McFarlane talked about the performance of the movie a bit, too. The original Spawn film, made using primitive 1997 CGI, was a bomb. The director/comic creator/toy magnate is working with Blumhouse, the studio behind hugely successful (but relatively-low budget) horror flicks like Get Out, The Purge and Paranormal Activity. Spawn is also coming in a post-Deadpool, Logan and, soon, Venom world, meaning that studios and fans are opening up to comic book movies as being more than simple superhero stories.
“Venom is also going to be R-rated, and I hope that thing kills. It’ll advance the idea that you can do R-rated superheroes and, from a completely selfish point of view, maybe my movie comes out two months later and I get the trailer to say, “From the co-creator of Venom comes Spawn!”
With the history of Spawn‘s bad 1997 premiere and of comic-book creators making cruddy movies (look at Frank Miller’s The Spirit for one example), I can’t help but be a little nervous about this character I used to adore coming back to the big screen, but it sounds like McFarlane is trying to do right by the character, and what he’s saying right now has my hopes up, if just a little bit.