Now that Marvel/Disney and DC Comics/Warner Bros have both shown their “black movie cards” (Black Panther & Cyborg), does this now open the door for other announcements of black superhero fan fave movie adaptations/reboots by other publishers like Image Comics, home of Spawn, or maybe even a Blade reboot?
Who knows!? Neither film has been made yet, and we’re still a few years away from expected release dates for each, and I suspect that how well both films perform at the box office will be of some influence on whether we see even more black superheroes get their own tentpole movies.
But digging back into the past, to those who’ve already been treated to big screen adaptations, whatever happened to the announced reboot of Spawn, which creator Todd McFarlane announced during the summer of 2013? Over a year later, McFarlane is talking about the project again – maybe not so coincidentally just a few days after the Black Panther news was dropped.
First, a quick recap to get you all caught up…
Conversation over a Spawn reboot has been happening about as much as talk of Marvel finally moving forward with Black Panther and Luke Cage projects.
Such is the plight of the black superhero film. Lots of talk, but very little action to complement.
For a few years now, creator Todd McFarlane has been working on, and pushing for a reboot of his Spawn comic, which was adapted into a 1997 feature film, starring Michael Jai White (reviews were mixed, though I liked it; not sure how well it holds up today though).
But, as we reported in mid-2011, McFarlane’s insistence on producing a property (whether it’s another film, or a cable TV series, live action, or animated) that “will absolutely be for mature audiences only,” hasn’t made progress on the reboot easy.
As he told MTV over 2 years ago: “We’re going to a cable network, and that’s their bread and butter… They want stuff that isn’t what you can find on ABC, NBC and CBS. They’ve covered that field. We have now an area where we can actually do shows that get a little grittier, a little darker, a little more risque.”
If you’ve been following the undead superhero series, you’ll likely know that McFarlane promised back in 2009 that it would indeed be returning as an animated series, though that never happened.
Skip ahead to Comic-Con in 2011, while on a panel for “Black Dynamite,” the animated series, Spawn star Michael Jai White shared the following: “I hope he [McFarlane] does [make the film]. In the next couple years I might have to produce it myself. It’s a no-brainer. Look at how these movies have done, superhero movies that have gone dark, and there hasn’t been one darker than Spawn. If we do it like we want to, it could be a game changer. I think Todd feels the same way as me – that we go R. Not a kinder, gentler Spawn, we go straight R – like pushing it, pushing NC-17. Give the fans what they expect. That edge brought [the comic book] to where it is. I would really like to show what that character can be.”
So, clearly Michael wants to do it (at least, he wanted to 3 years ago), and here he talks about a film, not a TV series. He certainly prefers McFarlane’s darker, grittier, risque ideas. So do I, I must say.
If he does want to return to the series, I wonder if he’s aware that Jamie Foxx is actively pursuing the role as well, and if they’ve talked about it. In 2013, Foxx revealed that he was “aggressively pursuing” a Spawn movie. He gave no further details on that, so we were left with little to go on. When he starts doing press for the upcoming “Annie” movie musical, if we get the opportunity to interview him, I’ll be sure that we ask him about “Spawn.”
A year ago, McFarlane, speaking to Toronto’s The Gate, during a fan expo, had this to say about a Spawn reboot: “The reality is that I’ve got a lot of pressure. They want me to deliver the script by the end of the year, which would basically mean we’d be shooting next year. So, that’s the goal right now […] The thing that keeps slowing it down is that the negotiation I’ve done is I write, produce, direct, but I’ve got to push a lot of my other endeavours off to the side so I can just get tunnel vision on it. And so everybody at my company is now going, ‘We’ve got to find Todd the time to finish all this.’”
He went on to add that this reboot will be a completely different take on Spawn than the previous film, saying it’ll be less of a typical superhero movie, and instead, more of a horror movie, and that he sees a 60-70 day shoot some time this year (2014): “I think it’s a quick shoot. It’s not going to be a giant budget with a lot of special effects, it’s going to be more of a horror movie and a thriller movie, not a superhero one. I’ve got so many people phoning now that I’ve got to get it done. I’ve made some promises to people this year.”
As for the $200 million question – who he had in mind to play the role this time around, here’s what McFarlane had to say: “You know what, we’ve had some big names–like who you’re mentioning–come to the office and go ‘We want to be in it’[…] Sometimes they give me their pitch, I give them my pitch, I go, ‘We can get in it, this is how it goes’, and so those types of actors–Academy Award guys–they’re going, ‘As soon as that scripts done, we’re going’. So once we get this thing done, we’ll get it off the ground with some big names.”
Unless I just read all that incorrectly, he seemed to be saying that there were/are some major actors who want to be involved – “Academy Award guys” as he stated. He’s of course referring to Jamie Foxx there, because there aren’t exactly a lot of black actors who are “Academy Award guys” (basically big name black actors who’ve won, or been nominated for Academy Awards, and, I should add, who are young enough) who’d make sense for Spawn.
11 months into 2014, and, no Spawn movie is in production.
Now, skip ahead to just last week Friday, October 31, when McFarlane shared the below video on his Facebook page, teasing the film’s latest development, calling the film “cool and creepy,” that it will indeed have an “R” rating, and that, once again, an “Academy Award-Winning actor” was set to play the part. But just as he’s about to reveal the name of the actors who will play the protagonist and antagonists in the movie, well, just watch the video to see what happens: