Todd McFarlane has been working on a Spawn film of his own ever since the release of the 1997 feature film starring Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo. Since that time, he has discussed a darker film; something more akin to a monster movie than a superhero outing. That ambition led to a prolonged development and, ultimately, McFarlane deciding he was the only person who could direct the picture. And after twenty years of trying to get this made, it seemed the stars were finally aligning with Blumhouse banking on him to make a dark, modest-budget Spawn film. Jaime Foxx signed on to play the Hellspawn while Jeremy Renner was a cast as Twitch, a New York detective with a long-standing association with Spawn.
And then everything went silent.
It seems the issue, as always, is the budget. McFarlane recently told comicbook.com that he just needs “to get everyone that wants to put in money to shake their heads to the same script. As you can imagine, everyone has a slightly different version of it in their head. You just go and trying to appease a handful of people while not giving in to what it is that I’m trying to do myself.”
Then, he added, “Because if I have to change it too much, I’ll just walk away from it all” before outlining the problems of marketing and release the project faces when it goes looking for a distributor and production partner among the bigger studios.
We’re going to presume this is the same argument he has been having with film studios since 1998. Possibly even earlier considering the compromised state of the 1997 Spawn. Thanks to his design, it is easy to see why movie producers want to feature him in a film, but it is also easy to see them cringing at the darker aspects of the character. The 1997 film tried to balance these opposing ideas to no one’s satisfaction. And while one would think Blumhouse’s low-budget model would allow McFarlane much more creative freedom, it seems some are still scared to make a “joyless” superhero film.
Which leaves Spawn in the precarious place its been in for decades: stuck between happening and collapsing forever.