With the critical and commercial success of Deadpool, there is about to be an endless outpouring of R-Rated superhero films. Fox has already announced that the third Wolverine film will be shooting for an R-rating (thank God he’ll finally be able to use his claws the way they were supposed to be used), and now Spawn creator Todd McFarlane has announced that he has completed a script for a Spawn reboot. Now keep in mind McFarlane has been wanting to reboot Spawn for the last part of a decade, but in today’s superhero heavy film world, this might actually get greenlit.
During a recent interview he stated that he’s completed more than 180 pages of script and he is shooting for a “Hard R” film, so we can expect to see language and sensuality similar to Deadpool in the film. That doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a copycat of Deadpool, more like in the same vein in regards to having a no holds barred antihero as your lead. McFarlane is also on record saying he doesn’t want to necessarily make Spawn a superhero film, but more like a horror/supernatural film. He advised he wants the title character to be a “boogeyman” in the background. He doesn’t want to have supervillains or anything like that. Now this approach might actually work.
Before he got involved with fights against the lord of the 7th layer of hell (Malebolgia), or the demons, or vampires, or Angels, or God, Or Satan; he simply was a supernatural Batman-like character who lived in Rat City, NYC. Most of the people he dealt with early in the comic book were robbers, mafia goons, or government assassins. This is a “street level” approach that has been very successful in the Marvel Netflix Series Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and (soon to be) Luke Cage. The more grounded to our reality a character is (even if they are not), the more relatable they can be. If the threats are too extraordinary, they escape our reality and our thought process. Once Spawn started fighting angels assassins, and demons, and when he gains the power to remake the Earth, he essentially became “Superman,” and it became a completely different comic than when it started. Where’s the threat in that? Making him an “urban legend” will ground the character. He can still have the same origin story from the comic (sent back to earth by Malebolgia to train as a general in Hell’s army).
If they go this route, there are some things they should avoid repeating from that abysmal 1997 movie:
They could follow the storyline from the HBO animated series. This was grounded, was set almost primarily in Rat City, did not overdo it on the superhero aspects, and definitely had an R-Rating due to violence and sex. Another thing that was sorely missing from the film was the duo of Sam and Twitch, the two detectives investigating Spawn. There is no need to see Malebolgia, he can exist as the “voice in the darkness” that promised Al Simmons he could see his wife before turning him into Spawn. Violator/Clown can remain in the film as the main villain for the first film if there is going to be a supernatural enemy, the rest should be normal everyday humans.