Spawn Movie: Todd McFarlane Taps Joker, Empire Writers

Todd McFarlane's long-gestating Spawn movie is headed back to the script stage. The Image Comics co-founder today announced that he has tapped writers Scott Silver and Malcolm Spellman to bring in a script. The movie, which is expected to be an R-rated outing that leans harder into the horror elements of Spawn than its superhero bits, has been in one form or another of development for years, with McFarlane wanting to develop a movie that works on a low enough budget that a studio will roll the dice on letting the comic book veteran direct.

Scott Silver brings some of that Joker cache to the table, then. The movie one of the biggest R-rated movies of all time, with a truly massive box office take and an armful of awards and nominations to boot.

"Scott Silver...I mean, most people can't even name three directors, but what you do is you tell them their accomplishments," McFarlane told ComicBook.com's Jim Viscardi. "So it's like Scott silver...the Joker writer, right? And so what's important that to me at least personally, is that that's an R-rated movie that did, not only extremely well, but set records. Both just from an R-rated movie level, not just a superhero comic book level, but R-rated, period. So it's like, adding him means you can say, 'Hey, if we want to get dark and sophisticated, we'll see where it all lands. But there's people that can do it.' And some of his other stuff like The Fighter and 8 Mile -- those are dramas, adult dramas. So I think Spawn lives in adult drama land."

Meanwhile, some of the pop action stuff that could make the trailer look sharp and the movie appealing outside of hardcore geek circles comes from Spellman, who has worked not just on Empire, but on Bel-Air and Falcon and the Winter Soldier. As a writer of color, he also brings a perspective to Al Simmons's life that McFarlane and Silver cannot.

"Malcolm brings another easy of excitement level, to at least the geeks, in that you get to say the Falcon and Winter Soldier and [Captain America: New World Order] coming up, so they're like going, 'Oh my God. Another sort of superhero geek guy,' right?" McFarlane said. "So, you've got basically a DC guy, and a Marvel guy, and they're both coming, and they're both doing projects hopefully that people enjoy, have enjoyed, and enjoyed. And then Malcolm had a hand in Empire and stuff, so he's got a very important voice to add to this mix, right?"

McFarlane acknowledged the complications of being a white creator trying to write about the lived experiences of a Black man in 2022. While McFarlane created Al Simmons, the intervening years have seen an emphasis on elevating authentic voices when telling stories about underrepresented groups.

"I originally wrote a script, and the debate internally is, 'I don't know. This white Canadian, Todd, should he be the guy of writing the story for this character? Or should we be more respectful of what it is we're trying to accomplish here?'" McFarlane explained. "So we kept constantly talking about, what's the team? What's the whole team that will help take us there? So I'm hoping that the whole becomes better than the sum of its parts, and that people will get excited that everybody's bringing their own pedigree to the table, whether it's Jason [Blum] or Jamie [Foxx] or whoever on top of it. I hope that the people will at least be curious, excited, and hopefully the day we get to show off our first trailer, people will find that entertaining enough to want to go on opening weekend. So there's the goal. One of the ways to get there is either the accomplishments of people or the names of people. That's always been my goal, is to put together those A-list people. We've got a nice band of A-list people for a project that began as sort this low budget sort of thing. And it's like, 'Don't take Todd's word for it now.'"

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No word yet on what this means for a potential production start date. At present, Silver is working on the script for Joker: Folie a Deux, while Spellman is writing Captain America: New World Order, both of which are huge studio movies that already have release dates set in stone.

Are you excited to see what Silver and Spellman bring to Spawn? Sound off in the comments below.