Just over 20 years ago, actor and martial artist Michael Jai White became a household name in geek circles when he appeared as the title lead in Spawn, the movie that marked the first Image Comics superhero book ever to get a theatrical release. Since then, he has gone on to appear in a number of fan-favorite geek properties, including Arrow and The Dark Knight (plus his earlier, costumed roles in the Toxic Avenger and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies, where he's much less recognizable). During an interview with ComicBook, White told us that it is not uncommon for him to see people at conventions where a parent and child who have different things they're fans of.
And, of course, right now, Spawn is a topic of conversation again. We asked White whether he would consider a small role in the reboot when it finally gets off the ground, and he said yes -- but for a surprising reason.
"Well, yeah," White said. "Out of respect for the fans who put me where I am, I would have to say yes. Simply from that."
In 1997, White played Al Simmons, the man who becomes Spawn, an agent of Hell, after being murdered. He did battle with the Violator, a demon hiding in plain sight as a demented clown (played by John Leguizamo). The movie earned lukewarm reviews and was a modest box office success, but failed to get a sequel. In the time since, fans have often asked White whether he might come back to the role.
The latest plan is for the character's creator, writer/artist Todd McFarlane, to write and direct the film, which will be less of a superhero movie and more of a horror film, where Spawn will exist as a spectral force.
"Everybody in Hollywood wants an R-rated, dark comic book movie, and Spawn is at the top of their list," McFarlane said during a convention appearance earlier this year. "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."
Batman: Soul of the Demon will be available digitally on January 12, and then on DVD and Blu-ray two weeks later on January 26. You can watch White's version of Spawn on HBO Max.