As the superhero movie craze continues to dominate at the multiplex, so does Hollywood's desire to adapt any printed story starring a dude in spandex. Todd McFarlane, one of the biggest comic creators of the '90s, is looking to capitalize on the genre's popularity with the hopes of bringing his most popular creation, Spawn, back to the big screen.
McFarlane recently confirmed that his long delayed "dark, R-rated, scary, badass" Spawn reboot is indeed happening. That's pretty optimistic since he only finished writing the script a few months ago. The original 1997 movie based on McFarlane's comic series may have been forgettable, but Spawn remains one of the most memorable anti-heroes of the '90s. Here's why a new Spawn movie could ultimately help revitalize superhero movies.
A New Dark Knight
To start things on a positive note, a new and more brutal Spawn movie could give the superhero genre what it needs: anti-heroes.
Anti-heroes may be controversial and somewhat self-indulgent, but when done right, they serve as disturbing reflections of humanity. The popularity of Deadpool and Marvel's Netflix shows, and the demand for a Punisher solo series, proves that an audience is hungry for R-Rated anti-heroes. A new Spawn movie could be a good step forward.
The rebooted Spawn is expected to follow the comics and focus on Al Simmons, a man with violent military past who is resurrected as the general of Hell's legions after his death. Now known as Spawn, Simmons comes to terms with his damnation and uses his demonic powers to save humanity by stopping the war between Heaven and Hell. McFarlane's description of the reboot also promises a new take on the character, now with a larger emphasis on the darkness that surrounds Spawn's origins and legacy.
In the background, there’s this thing moving around, this boogeyman. That boogeyman just happens to be something that you and I, intellectually, know is Spawn. Will he look like he did in the first movie? No. Will he have a supervillain he fights? No. He’s going to be the spectre, the ghost.
The morbid premise alone sets Spawn apart from other anti-heroes. If done similar to HBO's critically acclaimed Spawn animated adaptation, the Spawn reboot could be a great character piece with a dark twist to it.
A Demon Out Of Time
Spawn may be iconic, but that doesn't mean he's the perfect candidate for a new movie.
Say what you will about Spawn being a badass, he's still a representation of everything that went wrong in the '90s superhero scene. From excessively dark story elements that were more "teenage angst" than melancholy, to multiple plot inconsistencies, to exaggerated character anatomy, Spawn is for all intents and purposes a remnant of the '90s.
Over the course of countless reboots and rewrites, Spawn barely changed or developed. For the most part, Spawn remained a demonic, brooding hell knight -- even when he ascended to heaven. A new Spawn movie could spell doom for anti-heroes and the R-Rated superhero film if nothing is done to change or update the story. McFarlane isn't known for stepping out of his comfort zone and it's unlikely that his reboot will signal a change for the extreme creator.
Spawn's grit may have been a cultural touchstone in the '90s, but now it's seen as juvenile. Some would even go as far to say that Spawn is stuck in the past and refuses to grow up. Even Vertigo comic's Preacher, a time capsule of the '90s, had to tone down its angst and change its story when it was adapted for television. Spawn should follow suit to be taken seriously.
Done poorly, Spawn could end up like Fantastic Four, caught up in bleakness and consequently forgetting how to be a good modern superhero movie. On the other hand, trying to turn an undead killer's story into a family-friendly affair could backfire in ways reminiscent of the first Spawn movie and Nicolas Cage's Ghost Rider films.
There needs to be a balance, but with Spawn being the poster child of comic book extremes, this may be easier said than done. Superheroes have come a long way and have changed a lot to be taken seriously, and adapting Spawn without a hint of self-awareness could be a few steps backwards.
Is A 'Spawn' Reboot Necessary?
Despite the source materials' flaws, yes.
Audiences have had their share of optimistic symbols of altruism like Captain America and Superman, and it's time for the dark side to say its piece. A Spawn reboot needs to happen not because it's time to deconstruct all of Marvel's fun adventures and get depressed whenever a superhero saves people. The Spawn reboot is needed because it will add more variety to a genre that's getting saturated and repetitive.
Todd McFarlane is currently pitching his edited script to different producers and looking for someone to finance the next Spawn movie. While there are no details about the story or the identity of the Academy Award winning actor he wants to play Al Simmons, McFarlane's dedication is encouraging for fans of Spawn and of the comic creator's works in general.
A new Spawn movie has the chance to redeem the title's cinematic reputation and bring something truly unconventional to the superhero genre. Until Todd McFarlane reveals more, those who want to see another kind of hero that has nothing to do with Marvel and DC will have to wait a bit longer.
In the meantime, check out this awesome Spawn fan film.