Given the current onslaught of major comic book movie adaptations, it's strange to think that there are many fans who not only never saw Spawn (1997), but have never heard of it. The moderately successful adaptation of Todd McFarlane's cult hit may have been panned by critics, but as one of the darkest comic book films to ever reach the big screen, the creator has refused to let the thought of a reboot die - and he's not alone.
Our suspicions - put forward months ago when McFarlane claimed to have a star actor interested - have proven true, as Jamie Foxx has now confirmed that he is "aggressively pursuing" the reboot. Will this be the push needed to get an R-Rated Spawn into theaters?
With Foxx on hand at San Diego Comic-Con 2013 thanks to his turn as 'Electro' in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the actor was asked by Movies.com if there were any other projects he's personally trying to make a reality:
"Spawn is one, yeah. And Mike Tyson. Those are two roles I would just love to do. I'm aggressively pursuing them."
So the mystery has been solved: it was Jamie Foxx who McFarlane claimed was calling him on a monthly basis for not just a Spawn reboot, but a decade-spanning series of films.
That quote will likely come as bad news for Michael Jai White (who had hoped to reprise his role in any sequel), but good news for those who felt that while McFarlane may be a household name in the realm of comic books, a more well-known star would be needed to fast-track a reboot. As an Academy-Award-winning actor, Foxx is most certainly that.
However, the odds of seeing a Spawn film in the coming years that is actually faithful to the story and themes McFarlane seems intent on featuring are... less certain. For starters, major movie studios need to decide where they stand on R-Rated comic book adaptations - since the story of a man brought back from Hell to lead an army against Heaven is certainly an adult one.
Look no further than Dredd (2012) for evidence of the studios' dilemma: an uncompromisingly faithful adaptation of the comic, hard-R-rated, generally liked by critics and fans, and its sequel now relying on fan demand. There's no denying that an R-Rated film - at this point in time - seems bound to bring in a smaller audience than a watered-down, PG-rated superhero adventure. And (that's a fact that keeps fans of Deadpool awake at night).
For years, McFarlane has been working on getting a reboot off the ground after coming to the realization that his best chance for success was writing it himself, with a smaller target audience and scale, even if it meant circumventing a studio system that already bungled the property once:
“I’m 80% through the script, I did my due diligence, went around Hollywood… I listened to the pitch from all the big studios, but I just went, ‘nah, I need to make this small and tight and contained.’”
“And if we keep the budget small, they’ll allow me to do all of that. [But] if you blow up the budget… and I understand that. I wouldn’t hire me, either. But then I have to give it away.”
Now that Jamie Foxx is putting his voice behind the project publicly - while also starring as the villain in one of Sony's most bankable series - expect to hear more about McFarlane's once-hopeless reboot soon. We wouldn't recommend anyone hold their breath just yet, but perhaps Foxx has more prosthetics and CG work in his future.
Do you think a Spawn reboot could work after the first attempt? Or is the lack of R-Rated comic book successes too impossible for studios to overlook? Sound off in the comments.
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.