While one iconic comics creation from artist Todd McFarlane has made their way into cinemas this weekend, his other famous character Spawn, seems to be languishing in development. Despite the fact that actors Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner are attached to the project along with McFarlane set to direct and the great Greg Nicotero to do makeup effects. Although the film is set up at Blumhouse, a production company noted for its horror genre output, it has not yet managed to get the financing it needs to get into production.
McFarlane took some time during his appearance at New York Comic Con yesterday to address the status of the project, and what his next step is in the long march to Spawn getting on the big screen.
“What’s next is getting Hollywood to get this,” McFarlane admits. “They’re still a little timid of doing a true, dark, nasty, R-rated superhero [movie]. As soon as they hear ‘superhero’ they go into a bit of a default. So we’re still trying to get them across the finish line.”
In order to get studio executives to make that leap of faith, McFarlane has some advice.
“Stop thinking of this as a traditional superhero movie,” he stated. “They go ‘How come Spawn’s not in this more?’ All the comments are based on superhero, PG-13 thinking. I showed it to a couple of people last week at a studio and the mistake we made, I think, I told my agent, ‘You didn’t let me go into the room. I need to go into the room. I need to sell it. I need to tell them what the frame is of this picture that is the script that they’re about to read because they still keep going into the superhero default.’ If you read my script in superhero mode, it’s confusing. Think about as a scary movie that will get people mesmerized by Jeremy Renner’s acting and his character and then ‘Oh yeah, Spawn’s in this movie.'”
But despite studio executives’ reluctance to greenlight the film, McFarlane feels that there is definitely an audience ready for the different kind of movie that he is planning. “I think this audience is old enough. I think you actually are hungry for the same thing I’m hungry for.”
McFarlane is also enthusiastic about his collaboration with Nicotero and states that through the development process the two have been very much in synch. And that Nicotero’s extensive background in effects makeup has helped inform some of the new things McFarlane hopes to achieve on screen.
“The great thing about Greg is, because he’s a director when I was trying to explain what I wanted to do on the screen visually, he could understand what that meant,” McFarlane stated. “In the script it says ‘Al transforms into Spawn,’ we all have a vision of it. I haven’t shown what I want to do in the movie ever in the comic book. It’s a different kind of transformation and Greg gets it. We designed it so we could show it. I just don’t think the studio guys get it because they’re going ‘You’re going to need too big of a special effects budget.’ No, no, no. Not the way I want to do it.”
Ultimately, McFarlane is just looking to get the vision he has for the film out of his head and onto the screen for audiences to see. And that vision he hopes would be a rather cool one that won’t necessarily require expensive computer created visual effects.
“I think there’s another way to put something on the screen that is just odd and weird,” he explained. “Here’s what I’m hoping – At the end of the movie you guys walk out of there and you go ‘I don’t quite get it. I don’t understand how that all worked. But shit that looked cool!’ I don’t care how I got there, if it’s just cool, cool is good enough! And if I can do that for two hours, who cares if did it with special effects or some other interesting way?”