Don't expect the Hellspawn to look "comic book-ish" in Todd McFarlane's Spawn, the long-in-the-works adaptation of the creator's Image comic book. The famed comic book artist and writer — who exclusively told ComicBook he's likely to step back from directing the Blumhouse reboot — is redeveloping the feature after hiring the writers of DC's Joker and Marvel's Captain America: New World Order. Also on board the project is The Walking Dead special effects make-up guru Greg Nicotero of KNB EFX Group, who has designed a "gritty, down-and-dirty" interpretation of Spawn, the hellish hero known in a past life as Al Simmons (played by Jamie Foxx).
"Greg Nicotero [of] The Walking Dead, he actually was there on the first Spawn movie [in 1997]. He and I did a lot of work when I was doing the script, so we created a lot of stuff," McFarlane told ComicBook in an exclusive interview at New York Comic Con. "I've shown that to people, but without saying, 'You have to use any of this.' And I've shown a lot of artwork that's dark and mysterious and whatever else."
But as the trio of Scott Silver, Malcolm Spellman, and Matt Mixon write a new script for what McFarlane developed as his feature directorial debut, there's not yet a finalized design for Foxx's demon spawn. It will be the first live-action version of Spawn since Michael Jai White played the character in the Mark A.Z. Dippé-directed adaptation in 1997.
"We haven't got to locking a look yet, because that's going to be dependent upon what is in that final script," McFarlane said. "But I think it needs to be serious and sophisticated, right? It can't be silly. It can't feel comic book-ish. It just needs to feel almost horror. I'm gonna keep fighting for that, we'll see where we get."
Produced by McFarlane and Jason Blum of Blumhouse (The Purge, The Black Phone, Halloween Ends), McFarlane has long referred to his live-action adaptation as a "supernatural thriller" that Foxx compared to 2019's R-rated Joker.
"We have designs ... [McFarlane] came in, and he said, 'Look, we're doing this thing, and it's going to be low budget, and it's kind of down and dirty. And I want it to feel more like the animated show [Todd McFarlane's Spawn], where it's like Spawn meets David Fincher,'" Nicotero told ComicBook during last year's San Diego Comic-Con. "He wanted to do this kind of gritty down and dirty thing. And so, we did a lot of concept work here. We did a bunch of design busts and a lot of really, really cool stuff. And then it kind of stalled."
Watch the full interview with McFarlane in the video player above and see more Spawn updates from New York Comic Con 2022.