‘Sandman’ Movie May Have Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Director & Star

Published 1 year ago by , Updated December 17th, 2013 at 12:06 pm,

sandman comic book movie joseph gordon levitt Sandman Movie May Have Joseph Gordon Levitt as Director & Star

Actor/filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt has clearly been bitten by the comic book movie bug. He played the Christopher Nolan version of Robin in The Dark Knight Rises and will star in next year’s Frank Miller comic adaptation Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Most recently, the former Third Rock from the Sun child star has been linked to a film version of Vertigo’s The Sandman comic book/graphic novel series from Warner Bros. and DC (note: Vertigo is an imprint of DC).

Previously, rumor had it that David S. Goyer – the newly-appointed (unofficial) architect of the budding DC Cinematic Universe – pitched a version of a Sandman movie that impressed WB studio heads, in addition to having caught Levitt’s eye (as a potential starring vehicle for him).

Now Deadline is reporting that Levitt is finalizing a deal to produce the Sandman comic adaptation, with the intention of not only starring as the King of Dreams – but, possibly, directing the film to boot. Levitt, for those who’ve forgotten (and/or didn’t hear), made the jump to filmmaker this year, when his wrote, directed and starred in the independent production Don Jon, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, before getting picked up and released in theaters this past fall.

The Sandman was authored by Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline) and introduced readers to Morpheus, a.k.a. Dream: the personification of all dreams and stories, who spends 70 years trapped in magical confinement after a group of occultists capture him, having mistaken him for his sister, Death.

After he breaks free of his enchanted prison, Dream finds himself a stranger making his way through the unholy land that is the modern-day world – with his onetime gorgeously dark and ethereal kingdom having fallen into disrepair and chaos in his absence – forcing Morpheus to either change his ways and atone for his mistakes in the past… or die, as only he and his kin (The Endless) can.

Joseph Gordon Levitt Sandman Rumor Sandman Movie May Have Joseph Gordon Levitt as Director & Star

There have been a handful of attempts to adapt Gaiman’s Sandman literature – arguably, his comic magnum opus – to the small screen, but those previous efforts have always resulted in failure. More recently, DC President Diane Nelson dropped hints about a Sandman movie being on the way, even before rumors of Levitt’s involvement began to appear.

While Don Jon is a very different sort of genre movie than a Sandman adaptation, the film – love it, hate it or something in between (read our review) – has established Levitt as not only a director with a voice that is already pretty clear (though, obviously still developing), but also as a storyteller with ambition and purpose.

Frankly, that’s exactly the sort of talent you could want to tackle Gaiman’s comic source material: a filmmaker willing to make a comic book movie as daring, high-minded and poetic as the literature that inspired it (i.e. a provocative smorgasbord that blends elements of Kirbian fantasy, surreal horror, dark comedy, subversive mythology and poignant human drama).

The search is currently on to find a writer to script the Sandman adaptation, presumably based on Goyer’s pitch. There’s no word yet on the production timeline for the project, but with reports circulating that WB/DC will significantly increase their output during the upcoming years – with more niche and cult comic properties (like Sandman) being adapted to film at a greater frequency – we could see Levitt’s Gaiman movie take big steps forward in the (Days? Months?) ahead.


Are you intrigued by the idea of The Sandman as a movie, starring and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt?

Source: Deadline

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  1. Sigh. It is a gorgeous collection of graphic novels but there genuinely is not an inch of me that can see or understand how it could possibly be translated to screen. I hated the movie version of ‘Watchmen’ and I will absolutely try my damn hardest to hate the movie version of this. But I am fickle when it comes to property I actually adore, which is why you never see me slagging of the gazillion commentators on the latest Marvel/DC movie.

    Frankly, the entire movie could be a masterpiece. But if they get Delirium wrong, start running and continue running very fast…

    • Well if you try to hate a movie you’re gonna end up hating it either way. I’m too familiar with Sandman but Watchmen is one of the best comic book films either way, and thats coming from a guy who loves the book immensely.

      • *Not too familiar with Sandman* my bad.

        • I absolutely agree. It is nothing more than an immature claim of ownership over a piece of material I hold in supreme reverence. We all do it to some extent. I just rarely like anything THAT much, so when I do I put my dukes up :)

          • I understand.

            Whenever Stephen Kings Dark Tower or Linsners Dawn become movies I know I will be disappointed in some way.

            • That would make them (DT anyway) fitting movies then IMO.

              I don’t know if I could be as disappointed in the movies as I was with the final 3 books. Well, final 3 and a half actually, didnt much care for WAG either.

      • I think he forgot to say “not hate”

  2. I know this may seem like a stupid and obvious answer and his name is thrown around a lot but Benedict Cumberbatch would be a good Morpheus, I think. But JGL would be a good choice, I’d be interested to see what he does with it.

  3. I’m Surprised you guys never mentioned the other adaptation that Neil Gaiman was pitching to Warner Bros some time ago.

  4. I don’t really know much about the character but it would be interesting to see a lesser know character like this get a film I’d gladly see it with JGL attached.

  5. I’m literally just reading about this [first take at the] hollywood adaption in a book, ‘Tales From Development Hell’. I’m amazed to see it back on the boil again. Fingers crossed it a) actually happens and b) is at least partly good.

  6. Well, there went Dr. Strange! I’m sure JGL made a good acting call…. he always does!

  7. Awesome! This news put a smile on my face, bringing Joseph Levitt into the DC fold is an excellent idea! Not really familiar with Sandman but it sounds very interesting, might give it a read soon.

  8. I’m sorry, but there is absolutely no way this works as a movie. It MIGHT work as a series on HBO, but it would take a really strong director with a very clear vision and a good understanding of this type of material to get it right(Guillermo del Toro or Alex Proyas could do it) . JGL might be good enough to do it right some day, but not with only one movie under his belt while in the director’s chair.

    My personal opinion is that the series is too literate for the majority of people. I spent a lot of spare time, while reading the graphic novels, just reading the background on a lot of the characters/references Gaiman has in the stories to get perspective on the story. Any film made of the material will ring hollow and won’t get the stories rhythms right.

    • Sandman is far and away the greatest comic book series ever written; it is extremely literate, intellectual, ethereal, and (pun intended) dreamy. I don’t see how it’s possible to condense an adaptation into merely one film, I’m not sure a trilogy would even be enough to contain the magnitude of material. JGL is amongst my favorite young actors and agree Cumberbach would be a great choice to play Morpheus. As much as I adore Levitt, with only one film under his directorial belt he needs to get his ears a bit wetter before tackling such a prestigious tale. I will withhold judgment until I see a trailer. I will never forget prejudging Heath Ledger as the Joker and will not make the mistake again.

  9. The latter graphic novels were rather dense and exquisitely layered, but the first was a more straight forward tale. It could be adapted into a movie successfully with care to the source and also a very specific vision. I would recommend a relatively modest budget ($75-90 million) and give the film room to build an audience.

  10. Dc conspiracy: it’s a trade-off, he gets to direct this if he reprises John Blake/Nightwing

    • Except John Blake isn’t Nightwing. In all likelihood, the rookie cop with zero martial arts training probably got killed on his romp around Gotham as I-wish-I-was-Batman-Man.

      • @ Oneiros

        Spot on.

    • So you think TDKT is going to be part of the the DCCU even with a recast Batman, or do you think Warner Brothers will just be looking for ways to confuse the hell out of people?

      Also, what do you mean “reprise?”
      He would have to have previously been Nightwing in order to do that.

      • Yes to the first. Possibly to the second. Whatever to your third point. Time will tell and you don’t know any better than I do.

  11. As long as Neil Gaiman has a large role in the production process, I am perfectly ok with this. I’ve been wanting this to happen for a long time. My handle on this site is even taken from the comic. I hope they do it justice. It’s going to be difficult to adapt.

  12. I have not read Sandman – I really should get around to it – but JGL does not strike me as the type who would actually be suited to this role. JGL is a cool enough guy, but does he really have the edge for something like this? Maybe. I just find it an odd fit, at least on the surface.

    • While I agree, I want to point out that I said the exact same thing about Ledger as The Joker.

  13. Never heard of Sandman before. But I suppose this news puts JGL out of contention for Antman.

  14. Although I think the tales of the Endless are perfect for a serious adaptation on HBO, or the like, I AM curious about how the stories would function on the big screen. JGL could, indeed, make for a thoughtful take on Morpheus, but I do agree that Cumberbatch is made for the role, both in look AND particular acting ability. The first eight-issue story from the series could be fairly easily adapted to an excelllent film trilogy (it’s true that ONE film would not be enough)…and to see the Serial Killer Convention presented onscreen…WOW!

    “The Sandman” is a brilliant, artistically unique literary creation, and the universe it established remains one of my favorite comic book expressions ever…

    Sigh, NOW, I’m going to wonder who would be chosen for the various roles of the Endless AND other amazing characters like the Corinthian, Matthew the Raven, and (later) Merv Pumpkinhead…

    • The Serial Killer Convention could be incredible and I agree that the first arch could be handled fairly well in a trilogy, but I’d also like to see some of the later issues done. I really enjoyed the entire series but was partial to Seasons of Mist and Brief Lives. I really enjoyed Lucifer in the Sandman series and moreso in his own title so would not oppose a solo film at some point, so long as they get a good actor for it. They missed the mark with Lucifer in the Constantine film, in my opinion at least, for what thats worth. I imagine Matthew the Raven and Merv would have to be CGI and I’d have to put some series thought into the casting of the Endless, but can say adamantly that Arnold would not suffice as Destruction and I’m not in support of Depp nor Carter in the roles of Dream and Death, respectively…

      • Sorry, I meant Arnold as Corinthian…

  15. What about Depp for dream? I think he could be a good one if its not JGL.

  16. I can imagine a johnny depp/ Tim Burton sandman , not because I want a depp sandman but that’s the kind of movie those guys would be over like a rash. A story of that magnitude should be a tv series I think, there’s too much story going on for one movie or even three.

    • Ok here would be my cast list.
      Johnny Depp as dream.
      Helena Bonham Carter as death.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger as Corinthian.
      Ben Foster as Lucifer(just from the looks I have not seen his stuff.)

      • PLEASE, tell me you are joking…you HAVE to be.

        Carter and Schwarzenegger are not even CLOSE to being fits for Death and the Corinthian, respectively. Depp COULD work (though there are much better choices), and Foster might actually be a fairly good fit. Schwarzenegger should never come within five hundred miles of a “Sandman” set.

        • I have only read the first few books but I think that Carter would make a good death I liked her as Bellatrix Lestrange as for Schwarzenegger I was only going for the look.

  17. please no, I like him but no, he doesn’t look like dream at all, and dream has many different moods which I think he won’t be able to nail. both acting and directing