By Trey Stancher
Back when comic book movies either didn’t exist or were absolutely abysmal, there came a Spawn adaptation. I was barely a teenager when it hit, but I was obviously enamored with the idea of seeing my favorite character make it to the silver screen. The film ended up being an absolutely abysmal piece of shit. It had heart, and tried very hard to stay true to the comic book… and it did stay true to the comic, for the most part.
To be completely honest I haven’t seen the movie in over a decade because I can’t stomach sitting through it again. I’ve forgotten more than I remember about the film, but I do remember not liking it as a kid. That says a lot about how good it was that even when I was a kid and could misjudge bad movie after bad movie, I was too sharp on Spawn to be fooled by the film directed by a special effects supervisor who to this day has not directed another major motion picture.
To begin with, the casting was horrendous. These were roles tailored for specific actors. The Violator should have been Danny Devito, not John Leguizamo in a fat suit. Jason Wynn—the practical villain of the story—should have been Jack Nicholson, not Martin Sheen. Al Simmons himself should have been played by Wesley Snipes, not Michael Jai White (although that choice makes a little more sense). They even botched Wanda, casting Robin Givens-knockoff Theresa Randle instead of Givens herself. Hell, Terry Fitzgerald is a black man in the comics but was played by extremely white D.B. Sweeney.
Creator Todd McFarlane responded to the film by taking strict control of the franchise and to this day has refused to allow anyone to make another Spawn film unless he is allowed to write and direct it. Per usual, McFarlane makes the right choice, but takes it to an unnecessary extreme. All these years later comic book properties rule the box office, and McFarlane foolishly stands idle as his own lucrative property stays absent from the silver screen.
In all likelihood, Batman will have been rebooted twice before we see another Spawn movie. However, McFarlane recently spoke to MTV Geek and clamored on about how he has a script in the works, but what caught my attention was his assertion that an “Oscar-winning actor” keeps in touch with him about the alluring possibility McFarlane finishes the script and he gets to play the lead. It doesn’t take much sleuthing to figure out who he’s talking about.
A simple Google search for black actors that have won Academy Awards (sadly) narrows it down to a very select few. And, when I say few I’m talking about one guy. There are only seven black men who have ever won an Academy Award. I know, it’s at times disgusting and mind-boggling, but of those seven guys only Jamie Foxx stands out as a possibility for the role of Al Simmons.
I mean, it’s either Foxx or Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr., Denzel Washington, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morgan Freeman, or Forest Whitaker. So… you can see how it narrows down pretty well to just Jamie Foxx. And, McFarlane might be wise to stop being a dickhead and get this project off the ground already. Foxx is playing Electro in the next Spider-Man flick, and if McFarlane isn’t blowing smoke up everyone’s ass then he’s very lucky to have an actor like Foxx (who is at the pinnacle of his career thus far) eager to play Spawn.
Of course, as long as McFarlane refuses to name drop the actor he’s talking about then he could very well be lying to generate attention and interest in a franchise that should have been rebooted a long time ago. And, if he’s just being facetious and misrepresenting the person in question as an Academy Award winner when he’s just been nominated then it could branch out into Terence Howard, Don Cheadle, or Will Smith.
Whatever the case may be, it’s nice to know that McFarlane still wants to bring Spawn back to the mainstream, it’s just incredibly frustrating that all of us longtime Spawn fans are practically held hostage by McFarlane’s longtime hubris. At the very least, I think Jamie Foxx would make an excellent Al Simmons.