Todd McFarlane’s ‘Spawn’ Movie and Its Hellish Road to Reboot | NowThis Nerd

Hey, I’m Kya and I’m a little nervous about Todd McFarlane writing and directing the new ‘Spawn’ movie I’m still traumatized from the last time a legendary comic artist got behind a camera

I am sorely disappointed But McFarlane might be different Throughout his whole career, he’s been an advocate for creators’ rights to their own work It’s what led him and other artists to found Image Comics in the ‘90s But his insistence on control has kept the new ‘Spawn’ film in development hell for nearly a decade

Now that it’s finally got the green light, I can’t blame the guy for wanting to handle things himself Let’s run down the long road to the reboot, and see how it’s just another example of Todd McFarlane's independent spirit Spirit Ghost Spawn

It all makes sense Back with the puns Great Any story about McFarlane has to start with Image Comics Today, most people know Image as the home of indie darlings like ‘Saga,’ ‘Bitch Planet,’ and ‘The Walking Dead

’ But when it started, the content wasn’t that different from what the big guys were putting out That’s because Image was founded by some of Marvel and DC’s most popular artists McFarlane had only been a professional for a few years when his work on ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ made him a megastar Soon, he was drawing and writing his very own Spidey book, but it wasn’t enough Under Marvel’s contract, he didn’t own any characters he created

And he only got small royalties for his extremely profitable work So, with a few other superstar artists, he left to form his own company called Image Comics Image’s creator-first philosophy meant the company wouldn’t own any intellectual property except for its name and logo If the system gets changed and some of the rules get changed, then we've accomplished what we wanted The creators kept all the rights to their books instead

There was Jim Lee’s ‘WildCATS,’ Erik Larsen's ‘Savage Dragon,’ Rob Liefeld’s ‘Youngblood,’ And the star of the show, Todd McFarlane’s 'Spawn

' The angsty comic about a murdered CIA assassin turned demonic soldier was a massive hit And Columbia Pictures was in talks to make a ‘Spawn’ movie as early as 1992 The studio promised serious money and A-list stars, but all McFarlane wanted was control He didn’t want to compromise his dark vision for the character, and he sure as hell didn’t want to see ‘Spawn’ Happy Meal toys Though that would have been sick

Like imagine a kid reaching in for a nugget and pulling out a little tiny Spawn and getting the shit scared out of them I just like the idea of children and fear Instead, he sold the rights to New Line Cinema for one dollar, in exchange for creative input and control of the merchandising What?! That's the sweetest plum! Unfortunately, one thing was non-negotiable: The dark, ultraviolent, satanic superhero movie had to be PG-13, and that makes no f*cking sense The movie's rated PG-13

It might have some material in that that mommy and daddy might not like the kids to see So Jodie might have to stay home Bye bye, Jodie Other than that, it’s actually pretty faithful to the story One of the biggest differences is actually a result of Image’s creator-owned philosophy

In the comics, Spawn was originally murdered by a guy named Chapel But he was created by Rob Liefeld, who left Image back in ‘96 So in the movie, a new character named Jessica Priest kills Al Simmons instead WANDA!!! New Line also demanded a change to Terry Fitzgerald, Simmons' best friend who marries his widow, which is f*cked up They turned him into a white guy for the movie, which is even more f*cked up

See, ‘Spawn’ was the first comic adaptation to star a black superhero in the leading role It beat ‘Steel’ to theaters by two weeks, and ‘Blade’ by a year But apparently the studio thought having too many african-american actors would pigeonhole it as a “black film” I guess they had a point? I mean, who’d ever pay money to see a big-budget action movie with two black leads? Anyway, the movie isn’t that bad, even if it’s really hurt by the PG-13 rating and atrocious special effects Hell looks like a screensaver

I love it, but Jesus Christ, man Malebolgia looks like a hairless cat with grey pubes glued to his scalp And Spawn’s cape is barely on screen because it cost too much and it looks like a fruit rollup anyway Seriously, ‘Diablo 1’ had better cutscenes than this $50 million dollar movie Maybe they spent most of their money on the cast? Michael Jai White kills it as Spawn, but I still only see him as Black Dynamite

Or more importantly the dude from the pencil trick in ‘Dark Knight’ And Martin Sheen is clearly having fun as an over-the-top villain But the real standout is the Violator That clown is literally the best thing I’ve ever seen and started my obsession with clowns in horror films Because he’s just so good and campy

Pretty soon you're gonna see hair in funny places and start thinking about girls Also it made me think John Leguizamo is a lot shorter than he actually is Like between ‘Spawn’ and ‘Moulin Rouge,’ can we get a height check here? Cause Google says 5’ 8’’ and I ain’t buying it Maybe live-action isn’t the best medium for Spawn? I know I always preferred 'Spawn: The Animated Series' What the hell are you? Today, Todd McFarlane is no stranger to animation

His studio made music videos for Pearl Jam, Disturbed, and even won a Grammy for Korn’s ‘Freak on a Leash’ But when HBO approached him to launch their new animation block with ‘Spawn,’ he didn’t have any experience So he recruited from the best TV animation had to offer: ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ Which is DOPE I love BTAS

It’s my favorite- Sorry, I get excited about Batman And this one is the best animated series for him Okay, so basically Todd poached some people Like composer Shirley Walker, And Eric Radomski,the animator who draped Gotham in shadows and painted all those awesome title cards for every episode The result was a gorgeous adaptation of the comic

It’s dark and bloody and violent in ways the PG-13 movie couldn’t be Dear sweet tasty Wanda Keith David is perfection in the starring role

Who am I? That's right You don't know Let that little mystery keep you up at night Seriously, I’d listen to this man read me the classified ads And while the animation is kinda inconsistent, when it works it’s super impressive

Especially after the anime studio Madhouse took over in the second season That’s the same people that made Death Note, which is also f*cking amazing But once again, executive meddling reared its ugly head No, no! He was supposed to have attitude! What does that mean, exactly? HBO didn’t like the scripts for season 2, so they ordered rewrites They didn’t have the time or money for re-shoots, so they dubbed new lines of dialogue over the existing shots and used shadows to cover up the lip-sync

By 1999, HBO had basically thrown in the towel on their animation division They stopped giving a shit about ‘Spawn,’ even after it won an Emmy So season 3 was a dud, and the show was cancelled soon after Since then, things have been pretty quiet on the Spawn front The comic is still going strong, and there’s been a bunch of games and a ton of incredible toys

But for the last ten years, McFarlane has been trying to bring back Spawn to the screen on his own terms He just keeps running into reboot troubles McFarlane announced two new ‘Spawn’ projects: A new animated series and a reboot of the movie ‘Spawn: The Animation’ actually entered pre-production for a while The voicework is all recorded, with a pretty awesome cast too

There’s Mark Hamill, Clancy Brown, and Keith David back as Spawn But between legal issues and the search for the right animation studio, I don’t know if it’s ever gonna get off the shelf McFarlane’s been talking about writing and directing a new movie for just as long The official news is: The script is done! At least the first rough draft But he couldn’t find producers who would play ball

But now that ‘Get Out’ and ‘Purge’ producer Blumhouse is on board, he shouldn’t have any problem getting that R-rating I think Todd is gonna fit great into the Blumhouse fold and we're gonna open up a lane for him and let him do his thing And McFarlane’s plan for a smaller, cheaper horror film in the vein of ‘Jaws’ makes perfect sense for a first-time director Honestly, good for him for sticking to his guns If there’s one constant in Todd McFarlane’s career, it’s his commitment to keeping art in the hands of the creators

So best of luck, Todd! It’s not like you could do any worse than Frank Miller! You were right! We're mistakes! We never should have happened! It’s been twenty years in the making, but it looks like the new ‘Spawn’ movie is in exactly the right hands

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