Warner Bros. is developing a bevy of comic book movies that will come out in the next handful of years, many of which will comprise their long awaited Justice League shared film universe, bringing together characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, the studio is also going deeper into their DC Comics library, exploring the possibilities of producing various Vertigo titles into feature length films.

One of those projects that’s in the pipeline is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s critical acclaimed Sandman, which has already locked in Joseph Gordon-Levitt to direct (and possibly star). Updates on the movie have been few and far between, with the principal players just saying the customary “good feelings” quotes as they make their way through the lengthy pre-production phase. There haven’t even been any casting rumors, which is a rarity for this genre.

We now have word from Gordon-Levitt on how the script is moving along, with the actor providing an explanation as to why it is taking so long to complete the screenplay. Gordon-Levitt spoke with MTV News and revealed that the creative team is trying to find a way to make a big-scale action film that involves zero punching, in order to remain faithful to the source material:

“Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing sh-t up. This has nothing to do with that. And it was actually one of the things that Neil Gaiman said to me, he said ‘Don’t have any punching.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does. It’s going to be like a grand spectacular action film, but that relies on none of those same old ordinary cliches. So, that’s why it’s taking a lot time to write, but it’s going to be really good.”

For the uninitiated, this may seem like an oxymoron. How can you show people a grand action flick when the hero doesn’t throw a punch? However, fans of the books will note that Morpheus (aka The Sandman) has a plethora of abilities at his disposal, including dark force manipulation, magic, and illusion casting. So even if he doesn’t get “physical” during the film, per say, he still has plenty of ways to defend himself against his adversaries. And given that the core story is more dark fantasy and intellectual than your typical comic adaptation, it wouldn’t make sense within the logic of the film for Sandman to be beating people down anyway.

Sandman panel comic Sandman Will Be Grand Action Film With No Punching


In fact, this strategy may prove to be beneficial when it comes time to market Sandman to the general moviegoing public. Audiences are treated to multiple superhero films each year (with countless more on the way), many of which involve the protagonist punching their way through bad guys to save the day in action-heavy finales (making some desensitized to great battles). By showcasing someone who relies on more than his fists to get the job done, WB could give viewers a breath of fresh air in the genre, something that is equal parts compelling and refreshing when it’s all said and done. Given that Sandman is an obscure property, that difference could help it stand out from the crowd.

Whenever Gordon-Levitt gets to work on actual making his film (as opposed to just writing it), the biggest takeaway is that he is committed to delivering a product that honors the rich source material, which is considered by many to be one of the greatest graphic novels of all-time. Fingers crossed they find the right way to achieve their vision, since the narrative has immense potential to be a visually stunning and thematically rich piece of work that could redefine the comic book movie genre.

We’ll keep you updated on Sandman as more information becomes available.

Source: MTV News