10) Spawn (1997)
Spawning in 1992, the Spawn comics were an immediate success story and throughout the decade it was a revered property. Due to its success, a film and animated series were ordered, and while the latter drew plaudits and is now considered a cult classic, the film was met with disdain and subsequently dismissed.
Centred around an ex-soldier named Simmons (Michael Jai White), Spawn tells the story of a demonic anti-hero who returns to Earth following his suspicious death to be with his wife again (he’s also training to harness his newfound powers before he returns to Hell to lead an army against Heaven, but rekindling his romance is his immediate priority) only to find that years have passed and she’s remarried to his best friend.
On top of that, he’s not quite looking his best either, given that he’s been scarred and burnt from the pit. Of course, bargaining with the Devil comes with a price and happily-ever-after isn’t to be, when such deals are made. But Simmons isn’t prepared to give up on his love – or his soul – and decides to rebel against his new master once he learns his death was a set-up at the Underworld’s behest.
Spawn isn’t a good adaptation of the excellent body of work that inspired its creation. Jai White was perfect for the role, but the script wasn’t up to scratch and the character wasn’t fully realized. Furthermore, the movie has some terribly cheap special effects that which are often laughably bad, and the tonal shifts into toilet humor are just downright bizarre, though at the same time, they do contribute to the film’s indelible charm. But there’s a lot of good in Spawn as well; for a start, it has some stunning cinematography and oozes with an air of Gothic Expressionism. Additionally, the world building is excellent and the city feels like a Metropolis for the damned. The Spawn suit is badass (aside from the hokey CGI cloak anyway) too, even if it does look somewhat dated nowadays.
Spawn isn’t a perfect movie, but it is a fun one. If anything, it’s worth revisiting just to see how far comic book movies have come since the ’90s. Maybe the planned reboot can give the dark anti-hero the outing he deserves…