Even though Marvel and DC have the market cornered when it comes to comic book movies, every now and then moviegoers are treated to a cinematic tale that hails from a different company. Over in the Image Comics realm, arguably its most popular character, Spawn, is still leading his own comic book series after more than two decades, but his first theatrical outing back in 1997 was not received well, to put it lightly. Fortunately for fans of Spawn, he will soon be getting some much needed cinematic redemption.
It was announced at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con that the long-awaited Spawn reboot is finally moving forward at Blumhouse Productions, and since then we've slowly learned how this movie will differentiate itself from the first Spawn movie. With that in mind, here's everything that's been revealed so far about the new Spawn.
Currently, Spawn doesn't have a release date assigned, but it sounds like we won't have to wait several years for it to come out. Before the reboot's main star had been cast, it had been reported that production was aiming to begin in August. Now that we know who's playing this new Spawn (we'll get to him later), that likely means we'll soon find out who else is rounding out the cast. That means there's a good chance that Spawn will meet that August production start, and since this reboot is working with a lower budget (like most Blumhouse productions), it's not like the post-production process is going to be extremely lengthy. Therefore, Spawn will probably be ready for release in 2019, and if I were a betting man, I'd say it will come out in either late September or October to fit in with all the spookiness of that time of year.
Technically, Spawn hasn't been rated by the MPAA yet, but it's practically guaranteed that it will walk away with an R rating. First off, look at the source material. With all the violence and demonic elements in the Spawn comic books, you wouldn't be able to pull off a proper cinematic adaptation within the confines of a PG-13 rating. This is, undoubtedly, one of the reasons why the 1997 Spawn movie failed to be a critical hit, as it tried to appeal to both adults and moviegoers on the younger side of the spectrum (although an R-rated director's cut was later released). Rather than repeat that mistake, the Spawn reboot will waste no effort in aiming for an R rating. Spawn is a scary property, and with Blumhouse Productions having a good track record with horror and thriller movies, that, ideally, bodes well for Spawn finally being adapted properly for the big screen.
Rather than let someone else handle his creation again, Todd McFarlane will oversee the Spawn reboot's production. That's right, the man who brought Spawn to the Image Comics pages more than 25 years ago wrote the script for the new Spawn movie and will also direct it. In addition to creating Spawn, McFarlane's other notable comic book credits include illustrating The Amazing Spider-Man series at Marvel (during which time he co-created Venom alongside writer David Michelinie) and being one of the illustrators on Batman: Year Two over at DC Comics. Although McFarlane does have some experience working in the television realm (more on that later), the Spawn reboot will mark his first major foray into the world of film, which includes this serving as his directorial debut. Another notable comic book creator who directed a film based on his own creation was Frank Miller with the Sin City movies, although he co-helmed them with Robert Rodriguez, while McFarlane is going at it solo. However, Miller also went on to write and direct The Spirit (created by Will Eisner) by himself, only for that to be a critical and commercial failure. So, here's hoping that McFarlane has better luck with Spawn.
So far no specific details about the Spawn reboot have come out yet, but some tidbits have come out regarding how this movie will differ from its predecessor. First off, rather than show Al Simmons being turned into this demonic antihero while in Hell and tossed back to Earth, the new movie will not be an origin story. When we first see Spawn in this tale, he'll have already been this way for some time. In fact, who knows how much, if any, of Spawn's past will be explored. And despite the name of the movie and the character's prominence in the story, Spawn also won't technically be the main character. Instead, we'll follow along with two main human characters, who will serve as the audience's eyes, so to speak. Beyond that, it's unclear what villain or threat Spawn and these human characters will be dealing with, but whatever demonic craziness goes down, it'll happen in New York City (even though, by Todd McFarlane's admission, the movie's main shoot will end up happening in places like Detroit, Cleveland or Toronto).
Before he was running around in a cape and looking all kinds of ugly, the entity we know as Spawn was Al Simmons, a Marine who was recruited into a black ops CIA program. When Al started questioning the morality of the CIA's operations, Jason Wynn, the head of the United States Security Group, tasked Bruce Stinson, a.k.a. Chapel, Al's friend and partner, with killing Al. Because he had assassinated so many people during his life, Al was sent to Hell. However, in exchange for giving up his soul and becoming a Hellspawn, Al was able to return to Earth. Unfortunately for him, on top of now being a caped demon, Al came back five years after his death, and during that time Al's wife, Wanda Blake, had married Al's best friend, Terry Fitzgerald, and together they had a daughter named Cyan. Al was also brought back as an amnesiac, though he soon regained his memories. As Spawn, Al boasts numerous special powers, which include super strength, immortality, a healing factor, shapeshifting, phasing and harnessing necroplasmic energy.
As mentioned earlier, the Spawn reboot won't be an origin story, so even if we do see snippet of a human-looking Al, don't expect this particular story to shed a lot of light on his past. As for who will occupy the eponymous role, that honor belongs to Jamie Foxx, who already has some comic book experience under his belt from playing Max Dillon, a.k.a. Electro, in 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Foxx is still one of Hollywood's biggest stars, so for him to be leading Spawn is a major score for Todd McFarlane and Blumhouse. That said, Foxx has also been interested in playing Spawn since 2013, so he'll bringing a lot of enthusiasm to the role. One especially interesting thing to note is that Foxx's Spawn will not say a word during the movie, though McFarlane has clarified that the character will communicate in a special way.
The only other established character who's been confirmed for the Spawn reboot so far is Detective Maximillian "Twitch" Williams, who has been part of the Spawn mythology since the beginning. In the comics, Twitch is paired with Detective Sam Burke, with Sam serving as the brawn and Twitch serving as the brains. Although Sam and Twitch are best known as supporting characters in the Spawn comic book, the NYPD duo became popular enough to lead their own series for a few years.
The Spawn reboot's version of Twitch hasn't been cast yet, but unlike his printed page counterpart, he won't be paired with Sam. Well, not at first. Todd McFarlane said that instead Twitch will be paired with a different partner who's "quasi-Sam." The only other thing we know about the cinematic Twitch is he will be the main human character of the movie, so we'll get to know him quite well. There's no word yet on who will play Twitch, but if production is beginning relatively soon, we shouldn't have to wait much longer to learn the actor's identity.
Along with Spawn and Twitch, Todd McFarlane has said that the Spawn reboot will feature a female lead who's "not a love interest or any of the typical movie tropes," but he wouldn't identify who she is. So, for now, that's all we have to work with cast-wise. However, at over 286 issues and counting (and that's not including spinoff series), the Spawn mythology is one of the most rich across the comic book genre, so there's definitely no shortage of characters that this movie could throw in. Though, if Spawn's origin isn't going to be deeply explored, that probably rules out folks like Wanda Blake, Terry Fitzgerald and Jason Flynn from appearing.
There are three characters in particular I suspect stand a decent chance of appearing in the reboot, though I wouldn't expect all three of them to be participating together. First, we have Malebolgia, the entity responsible for creating Spawn. Malebolgia is one of the many rulers of Hell (he hails from its Eighth Circle), and while he initially assumed the transformed Al Simmons would be one of his many minions, eventually Spawn was the one who decapitated him (although Malebolgia was later resurrected). Even if we don't learn the details about Spawn's past in the movie, I wouldn't be surprised if Malebolgia is the threat that our hero is working to neutralize from the shadows.
Second is The Violator, who's known in his human form simply as Clown. The oldest of five demon siblings known as the Phlebiac Brother, he was was initially charged with training fresh Hellspawn so they could lead Hell's armies, but ever since he first looked after Al Simmons, he's continually tried to prove that demons are far superior to Hellspawn for this task. Violator has been the most recurring villain in the Spawn mythos, continually manipulating and toying with the protagonist. Like Malebolgia, Violator could easily work as Spawn's main antagonist, although it might be wiser to use him as a supporting baddie in this movie and have him graduate to the big villain in a sequel.
Finally, there's Cogliostro. Initially, he was Spawn's mentor, as he too was a Hellspawn who had escaped Malebolgia's grasp. Initially presenting himself as a homeless man, Cogliostro has used what little necroplasmic energy he had left to stay alive for centuries on Earth, but upon crossing paths with Spawn, he began advising him on how to use his powers for good rather than in the service of evil. However, it was later revealed that Cogliostro was Cain. Yes, the same Cain from The Bible. It turns out that all his time he had been working to become the new ruler of Hell, and he ultimately succeeded. For the sake of the Spawn reboot, it would probably be best just to keep him as the mentor figure, and if he returned for another movie, then his past could slowly be revealed. Of course, if Cogliostro were to appear in the Spawn reboot, an arrangement would need to be worked out with Neil Gaiman, as he owns 50% of the character.
It's worth a reminder that like other Blumhouse films, Spawn isn't working with a large budget, and who knows how much money it will cost to make the eponymous character look realistic and terrifying. So, while there's a good chance that at least one or a few other mystical characters will show up, don't expect the visual effects in this movie to be as crazy as what you'd see in a Marvel or DC movie. That being said, there's that old saying, "A little goes a long way," so maybe Blumhouse will still be able to work visual magic with its smaller budget.
As mentioned earlier, Blumhouse's Spawn movie isn't the first time the character has appeared outside of the comics. Only five years after his printed page debut, Spawn starred in his own blockbuster movie, with Michael Jai White in the title role and the supporting cast including John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, Nicol Williamson and D.B. Sweeney. The movie was a straightforward origin story, but it only made $87.8 million worldwide and was met with a lot of negative reviews. Fortunately, from what's been revealed so far, it sounds like this reboot will feel significantly different from its predecessor, akin to the tonal differences between Batman Begins and the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman movies. Spawn also cameoed earlier this year in Ready Player One during the climactic conflict in the OASIS.
Away from the silver screen, Spawn led his own animated series on HBO, which aired three seasons of six episodes each from 1997 to 1999. Featuring Keith David as the voice of Spawn, this series earned a much better critical reception than the first Spawn movie, and it's available on HBO's streaming platforms for anyone who wishes to check it out. Spawn also starred in several video games between 1995 and 2003, which included being a guest character on the Xbox version of Soulcaliber II. It's also worth mentioning that there is a Sam and Twitch TV series has been in development for BBC America since 2017. Spawn himself isn't expected to show up, but if it's like the duo's comic book series, it would be a procedural mixed with supernatural elements.