Spawn creator Todd McFarlane says his dark, R-rated reboot will claw itself out of development hell "this year" following the blockbuster success of Joker. Envisioned as a low-budget horror when it was scooped up in summer 2017 by Blumhouse, the horror hit factory behind the Purge and Halloween franchises, production on Spawn stalled in financial limbo despite McFarlane attaching stars Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) in the titular role and Jeremy Renner (Avengers: Endgame) as detective Twitch Williams. But in the wake of Joker, McFarlane says, the comic book creator is being urged to go "dark and creepy" for what he describes as a supernatural thriller.
"Everybody in Hollywood wants an R-rated, dark comic book movie, and Spawn is at the top of their list," McFarlane said at FAN EXPO Vancouver. "The phone calls are coming in fast and rapid. I've been talking to a couple of Academy Award people, I've got the investors getting lined up. It's changed ever since the Joker from being me begging them to do Spawn dark and creepy, to them asking."
McFarlane added, "So I'm telling you it will happen this year. This year. And I will direct it. I will be directing it."
The Todd Phillips-directed Joker, an origin story for the infamous Batman villain, became the first R-rated film in history to earn more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office before winning two Academy Awards, including the first Best Actor win for star Joaquin Phoenix.
One reason for the delay, McFarlane previously told ComicBook.com, stemmed from everyone having a "slightly different version of [the movie] in their head." In late 2019, McFarlane revealed the long gestating Spawn was undergoing a polish from another writer-director and "the movie's coming."
"It's not an 'if,' it's a 'when.' I just think that it would be better for the process if we could attach one of the studios in advance, and then go put it out," he told BeTerrific. "Because then we'd be able to make an announcement of the release date, and a couple things that matter to the fans, knowing that it's coming instead of making it and trying to get the release date later."
During a September 2019 appearance at FAN EXPO Canada, McFarlane said he's not rattled being a first-time feature director because he's "directed this movie a thousand times" in his head.
"If any of you saw this movie called A Star Is Born, Bradley Cooper directed that. First time director. You tell me that movie looks like a first time director," he said. "He was smart enough to surround himself with good people. I'm gonna be the least experienced person on that set, they're gonna make me look good all day."
Beyond the Oscar-winning Foxx and the Oscar-nominated Renner, McFarlane said, Spawn involves The Walking Dead special makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero as well as "a couple of [directors of photography] that have won [awards]."
"Jason Blum, who has won multiple awards and been up for Academy Awards, everybody I'm surrounding myself with is a star," McFarlane added. "They're just gonna carry me, they're gonna make me look good. So don't worry about it."
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