Twenty-something (and older) comic book fans will no-doubt remember the meteoric rise of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn series – which, in no time, spawned a live-action feature film and mega-successful toy-line. While the series remains a staple-seller in comic shops, some of the momentum behind the property has died-off.
While it’s nothing new to hear that McFarlane is interested in a live-action Spawn reboot, fans will no doubt be excited to hear that Al Simmons/Spawn-leading man, Michael Jai White is equally excited about the possibility of revisiting the super-anti-hero.
The original Spawn film was largely panned by critics and was only a mild commercial success but it’s hard to blame Michael Jai White – considering the overall film struggled to find a balance between the dark and mature comic book source material and New Line Cinema’s desired PG-13-friendly demographic.
As a result, it’s no surprise to hear that White, who was at Comic Con 2011 promoting Mortal Kombat: Legacy, is interested in dawning Spawn’s burnt-flesh prosthetics again – but only if the actor and Todd McFarlane can make the film they want to make, i.e. a hard-R (pushing NC-17) version of the character.
“I hope he 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.”
While White doesn’t exactly elaborate on what elements would earn the film a “pushing NC-17″ rating, anyone familiar with the franchise will be able to think-up a myriad of examples – some of which were undoubtedly featured in the critically acclaimed Spawn Animated Series that screened on HBO from 1997-1999. On HBO, and in animated form, McFarlane was able to successfully portray the violent and gritty world of his original creation.
Financing is still the largest hurdle that remains for a live-action Spawn reboot – as very few studios will want to invest in an expensive CGI-heavy superhero film that’s saddled with a high “R rated” barrier to entry. While a mature rating would definitely better serve the narrative, as well as offer some interesting on-screen visuals, it’s hard for an R rated comic book film to bring in big money – given that it immediately cuts out key demographics.
The fine line between marketability and dedication to the source is why McFarlane has been talking about financing a lower budget, indie version of Spawn himself.
Although, it’s easy to argue that a low-budget and brutal Spawn film would be an even bigger misfire, without the kind of big screen CGI spectacle that fans expect from superhero films – especially in the Spawn franchise.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick and let us know what you’d like to see in a new Spawn film.