You have to give Todd McFarlane credit for persistence. For year’s now he’s been hard at work on bringing Spawn back to the big screen. He’s lined up a very impressive cast, written a cool-sounding script and has some kickass crew behind the scenes. But while all the pieces are in place, the film has spent a very long time in development hell. Apparently, McFarlane is having trouble getting a studio to finance it, and now we’re hearing that one of the key factors might be his desire to direct it himself.
To be fair to McFarlane, he obviously has a very clear vision for the movie. His plan is to treat Spawn like the shark in Jaws, a mostly off-screen presence constantly talked about but largely left to exist in the audience’s imaginations. A convenient side effect of this is that not having a hellfire-powered nightmare superhero on screen all the time saves on budget. And that reduced risk factor might be why McFarlane hopes to convince studios that he can be trusted with this as his debut feature.
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But we’re now hearing from our sources – the same ones who said National Treasure 3 was in development months ago, and that Bill Murray is returning for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which is now confirmed – that the studios would prefer a more experienced set of hands. Nothing has been decided just yet, but whether or not he directs the film is apparently one of the major reasons why Spawn hasn’t happened already. It’s possible that studios may be looking back to the last time they trusted a top comic creator as a first-time director. That was Frank Miller and The Spirit, which turned out to be an absolutely farcical movie that lost a ton of money.
Now, McFarlane isn’t Frank Miller, but even so, studios might want to see at least some proof that he knows what he’s doing on set before they send him off to shoot with a crew. Perhaps we could end up seeing a situation where an experienced director takes charge of the technical aspects of the production, with McFarlane on set at all times in an advisory position. Either way, I just want to see Spawn already.