Longtime Spawn fans are in for a treat. Our favorite antihero is making a cinematic comeback in the near future. If you recall, the character had a 1997 live-action film that featured a whole bunch of shoddy special effects, but some terrific acting from the likes of Michael Jai White as the titular character and John Leguizamo as the Violator and the best '90s soundtrack next to The Crow. Considering we're living in the golden age of comic-book movies, it makes sense that Image Comics' MVP gets another shot at the big screen. However, for those expecting a traditional superhero film in the vein of a DC or Marvel movie, you'd best look elsewhere.
Chatting to ComicBook.com, Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane, said, "The difference in my movie will be simply this: That Superman, Batman and Spider-Man, they have their own way of dealing with things. You know, they beat [bad guys] up, they put them in handcuffs, they take them away, whatever they do. Spawn didn't like that. If you're bad, he will bite you. And when he bites, he bites hard. Very, very hard. He doesn't care that it hurts. He's not concerned about that part. Those other guys are all concerned about that part." You can't help but feel a bit of excitement from McFarlane's comments. Could it be that Spawn ends up being a game-changer for the comic-book movie genre? Let's take stock of what we definitely know about the film and a few rumors that we hope are true.
15 FACT: R-RATED, BABY!
One thing that McFarlane has been adamant about is that Spawn must be a hard R-rated film. Chatting to CinemaBlend, he explained how this will be different from other R-rated superhero films. "In Hollywood, if you say you want to do an R-rated movie, they go like 'Oh like Deadpool and like Logan?' For me, no...
"Deadpool, to me, was a PG-13 action movie. It just had some butts and a couple f-bombs. Other than that, I thought it was the same PG-13 formula. "I'm talking R. I'm talking that there will not be a lot of fun. There will not be any stupid lines in it... I never like my hero to make a joke right when the jeopardy was at its highest."
14 FACT: IT'S A SUPERNATURAL THRILLER
As McFarlane reveals more and more about the film, many people got the impression that Spawn would be a straight-up horror flick, with tons of blood and violence. However, McFarlane was quick to dispel the rumor. "I consider dialing it back to say it's a supernatural thriller. So then it's not gonna be a gore fest," he told ComicBook.com.
In other words, we should probably expect the film to be more like Se7en as opposed to Saw, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Spawn ends up delivering on its promise, we could start seeing the return of darker superhero films in the future.
13 FACT: JAMIE FOXX WILL BE SPAWN
Naturally, the biggest question that everyone asked was, who was going to portray Al Simmons/Spawn? Michael Jai White's name was mooted again; however, it was always going to be unlikely as this production tries to move away from the 1997 production. The names of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jamie Foxx also did the rounds on the rumor mill, and one of them ended up being correct.
"Jamie came to my office five years ago, and he had an idea about Spawn and we talked about it," McFarlane told Deadline. "I never forgot him, and when I was writing this script, you sort of plug people in, and he was my visual guy and I never let go of him."
12 FACT: SPAWN WON'T APPEAR MUCH IN THE FILM
One of the biggest shocks to hear was how McFarlane said Spawn wouldn't appear much in the forthcoming film. It sounds rather surprising and self-defeatist when the movie is meant to be about him, but the reasoning does make sense when you think about it.
By the looks of it, McFarlane is taking inspiration from Steven Spielberg's Jaws, where the shark would only appear here and there to heighten the suspense of the moment. It could work. Just look at how Heath Ledger's Joker only had 33 minutes of screen time in The Dark Knight, yet left a lasting impact on the audience.
11 FACT: IT'LL HAVE A LOW BUDGET
Look, Deadpool proved that it isn't necessary to have a small country's GDP to produce a good comic-book movie, and McFarlane will be pinching the purse strings even tighter with Spawn. The film is reported to have a $12 million budget, which is probably what Marvel Studios spends on posters for their movies alone.
Of course this means there will be restrictions to what the film can and can't do. That said, it'll force the movie to rely on its acting and screenplay – something that most films throw out of the window in favor of a big CGI slugfest to keep the average audience happy.
10 FACT: TODD MCFARLANE IS WRITING AND DIRECTING
Taking full control of his creation, McFarlane has written the screenplay and will direct the movie. However, do keep in mind that this is his first-ever feature production. For this reason alone, many fans are worried as it's a massive ask for a first-time director. Don't write off McFarlane, though, as he has proved many times before that he knows what he's doing.
After all, he's the guy who created Image Comics with a bunch of his friends and regularly outsold Marvel and DC. Add to that the fact that he started his own successful toy company when he had no prior experience. We wouldn't bet against him pulling a rabbit out of the hat here.
9 FACT: BLUMHOUSE WILL RELEASE IT
Aside from McFarlane's input, the other piece of news that should excite fans is that Blumhouse Productions is releasing the film. In recent years, Blumhouse has become the place for filmmakers who are tired of big studio meddling, as it provides creative freedom for its creatives and continuously cranks out good films.
It's unlikely that any other studio would allow McFarlane the sort of freedom that Blumhouse is doing. It puts its faith in the filmmakers and the project, and it's reaped the benefits, too. In fact, it garnered its first Academy Award in the shape of Get Out. We'd imagine it's the first of many to come.
8 FACT: TWITCH WILLIAMS WILL BE THE MAIN CHARACTER
As we've already mentioned, Spawn won't appear much in the film. So, who'll be carrying the bulk of the screen time then? The answer is, Twitch Williams – an NYPD homicide detective who normally forms part of the Sam and Twitch duo in the comic books.
"Twitch is the character I keep calling my Sheriff Brody. That movie [Jaws] is about the shark and how the shark moves and what he does. That's my Spawn. Twitch is like Brody, who's part of the human contingent who's trying to find out if this thing really does exist," McFarlane said to ComicBook.com. No casting news about who'll portray Twitch has been released to date.
7 FACT: NOT TOO MANY SPECIAL EFFECTS
With a budget of only $12 million, you can't expect too many special effects. Mind you, this isn't a bad thing. As we've seen in a lot of superhero films lately, CGI and all that other jazz doesn't always make the overall movies better. By removing the temptation of special effects, it forces the filmmakers to be far more creative and apply more practical effects – which we've missed dearly in modern cinema.
Additionally, as discussed above, this forces the script and acting of the film to carry it. Without the dependence on green screen and magic brushes, it's up to the actors and crew to create real magic on set.
6 FACT: SET IN NEW YORK
With McFarlane on-board, you can bet your bottom dollar that he'll make sure the movie is true to the source material. Including where the film takes place.
"You know what, you know this is sort of uninteresting part of making movies maybe, to people, I don't know, but there are different places that give incentives for you to come and shoot the movies there. At the same time given that this world takes place in New York, we're going to have to be in a place that can be somewhat convincing at times, especially for some exterior shots," McFarlane told ComicBook.com.
5 RUMOR: IT MIGHT LEAD TO AN ANIMATED SERIES
Once the news broke that a Spawn film was on its way, fans wondered how long until an animated series would be in the works, too. After all, the HBO series from the '90s is still remembered as a fine adaptation of the popular antihero. Well, it seems like there's something in the pipeline already.
"I'm going to get the movie out and then we still have the rights for TV and animation and we'll just figure it out," McFarlane teased to ScreenGeek. "I've also got to figure out how to get Keith David [voice of Spawn in the animated series] in my movie, too. Just for one line."
4 RUMOR: VIOLATOR TO APPEAR
Despite the many faults of the live-action film, Leguizamo's portrayal of the Violator was pitch-perfect. Not only did he look like the character, but he also made sure that the personality was there. It's sad that he didn't have better material to work with, or else we could be speaking about the Violator in the same breath as cinematic villains such as Thanos and the Joker.
While plot details about the upcoming Spawn film are scarce, fans are speculating that the Violator will appear in some shape or form. He's a major part of this universe, so there's likely to be some part for him – even if it's a small one.
3 RUMOR: START OF A NEW FRANCHISE
McFarlane doesn't think in small terms. He's probably already planned out an entire cinematic franchise for Spawn, and we wouldn't be too surprised if he's chewed off Jason Blum's ear about it. That said, we'll have to wait and see how this film does before finding out about any possible sequels.
Considering the low-risk investment in it, it's highly probable that Spawn could bring big returns for Blumhouse. Even if it makes $50 million at the box office, it can be considered a financial success. So, the fact is this: If you want to see more Spawn movies in the future, you need to make sure this one is a financial success. The future of any potential franchise is in your hands.
2 RUMOR: LEONARDO DICAPRIO TO STAR
Okay, this rumor started because of McFarlane. Speaking to Vulture about Twitch's part in the upcoming film, he said, "Given that the big lead was Twitch when I was writing, I had Leonardo DiCaprio in my head." He elaborated how he was inspired by DiCaprio's Jordan Belfort performance in The Wolf of Wall Street and needed a similar manic nature for Twitch.
It sounds preposterous that DiCaprio would star in Spawn of all films, but with an Academy Award winner in the shape of Foxx already on board, it doesn't appear so unlikely anymore. The question is, does DiCaprio want to be a part of the superhero genre?
1 RUMOR: STAN LEE TO CAMEO
Stan Lee is the king of cameos. If there's a Marvel film, you can be certain that good ol' Stan is ready to pop up in a fun and unexpected way. Considering the friendship between Lee and McFarlane, there's a chance that the legendary comic-book creator might cameo in this Image property as well.
McFarlane has stated that he's created a special cameo for Lee and that Lee's keen to appear. Will Marvel allow it, though? Since Spawn won't be competing for the same audience as other Marvel films, we'd think the powers that be won't be too bothered by Lee's cameo in this feature.