I have to hand it to Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci. Unlike other film rumor mongers, when he gets tentative scoop, he sells it as such, not making it out as a certainty. And today he has a scoop about one of DC/Vertigo’s most important works making another run at the big screen.
Faraci claims that David S. Goyer has pitched a version of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to Warner Brothers with Joseph Gordon-Levitt attached in some function and with the support from DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Being that the pitch has come from Warners’ go-to guy for comic book adaptations, has one of the hottest actors in the world attached to it, and has the blessing from one of the comic book arm’s head honchos, Warners is said to be “very receptive.”
Sandman was a DC character that dated back to the World War II era, where he appeared as a pulp inspired adventure (later turned costumed superhero). Neil Gaiman was tapped in 1988 to reboot the concept from the ground up, and the character became Morpheus. the Lord of Dreams, ruler of the Dreaming. The series quickly became the best comic book series to come out of the rather dreadful late 80s,early 90s, earning many awards, a lot of mainstream praise and cult following from both longtime comic fans and new readers alike. The series ran for 75 issues until 1996. Gaiman recently returned to the concept with The Sandman: Overture, which is in stores now.
Taking that under consideration, it should be no surprise that attempts were made to bring the Sandman to the big screen before. Unfortunately, it was attempt by Jon Peters during his “there isn’t a comic book property that I couldn’t screw up” phase. There was a rather faithful 1996 script put together by Pulp Fiction’s Roger Avary and Pirates of the Caribbean’s Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio that got replaced when Peters fired Avary over the direction the film was going. The direction Peters wanted is evidenced in a script by William Farmer–who would later go on to write Jonah Hex–-and that direction was stupid action film more reminiscent of Terminator 2 that the original source material. That script was the impetus for one of the most scathing reviews ever on Ain’t It Cool News and even compelled Gaiman himself to call it “not only the worst Sandman script I’ve ever seen, but quite easily the worst script I’ve ever read.” So I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t do backflips thinking this film will ever get made, or if it does that it will be any good, because the precedent isn’t all that reassuring.
It’s assumed that Gordon-Levitt is attached as the star of the film, which I can see working from a physical standpoint at least. However, he is a hyphenate now, and his involvement could also include writing or directing the film as well. Or, it could be like every other comic book film he is supposedly attached to and he will deny involvement and a conflict will pop up to support the denial.
Faraci takes pains to say this is all in the very early stages and nothing has been set in stone. No green lights have been given, no scripts written, no sets constructed and no casting has been done. But Warners seems to really like Goyer, and the really want to exploit all their DC/Vertigo Comics properties. And if they were willing to develop a Sandman film with a Dream Lord prone to fistfights trying kill a girl to stave off the millennial apocalypse, there’s a pretty low bar for Goyer to get over for Warners to move forward on this on this.