The ’90s were a great time for Todd McFarlane. He helped form Image Comics and created their flagship character, Spawn. Spawn was such a hit that he managed to get his own big budget feature film and an adult-themed animated series on HBO. Unfortunately, Spawn was a critical disaster and the HBO series of the same name was met with confusion. The character remained present in comics but never quite got another shot at the big time.
McFarlane is hoping to change that. He’s just finished a draft for a new feature film version of Spawn which he hopes to direct himself. McFarlane seems to be taking a more unconventional route with the superhero this time around, calling his new script more horror and suspense focused. He’s also aiming for a film that’s much more low budget, portraying Spawn as a supernatural figure that operates from the shadows. McFarlane calls it, “The Departed meets Paranormal Activity.” From what McFarlane says, it sounds a lot like the first two seasons of the HBO animated show (which is a flawed but well-intentioned endeavor worth checking out).
As a concept, there’s a lot about Spawn that works. His origin story — a dead soldier who is sent to Hell and rebels against a deal he made to become the eventual leader of the demon Malebolgia‘s army — is pretty great, and his horror-themed costume and tone is something we haven’t really seen in this recent wave of superhero films. There’s a lot of ways to do Spawn wrong, but it’s not impossible to do Spawn right. The spinoff comic Hellspawn is a good example of how to take such an extreme character and do something different with him.
Here’s hoping that the next cinematic version of Spawn fares better than the last.