Howard the Duck, the somewhat infamous Marvel movie, inspired Neil Gaiman to get The Sandman's live-action adaptation right. Gaiman co-created The Sandman, a celebrated DC Comics series, and has been revising it for the 21st century as part of Netflix's streaming adaptation. Prior to the Netflix deal, there had been several attempts to bring The Sandman to life as a film, some of which Gaiman himself shook off, feeling that a movie couldn't do the 75-issue comic book series justice. One final attempt saw Joeseph Gordon-Levitt helming the project creatively, but that project ultimately fell apart. Through it all, Gaiman tells Total Film that Howard the Duck was his guiding star.
"It may sound silly, but when I was 14 or 15, my favorite comic was Howard the Duck," Gaiman tells the magazine. "I was so excited when I heard George Lucas was making a movie. And then [the film] came out. Howard the Duck became a bad joke. I never wanted that to happen to Sandman, and I saw scripts that would have made that happen ...The important thing was to stop bad versions being made," he said. "Once a bad version is made, you never quite come back from that."
The Sandman stars Tom Sturridge as Dream. Supporting cast members include Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer, Boyd Holbrook as The Corinthian, Charles Dance as Roderick Burgess, Asim Chaudry as Abel, Sanjeev Bhaskar as Cain, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, and Stephen Fry as Gilbert. Gaiman is working with David S. Goyer and Allan Heinberg on the series.
"Doing the Netflix TV series, we're very much looking at that as going, 'Okay, it is 2020, let's say that I was doing Sandman starting in 2020, what would we do? How would we change things? What gender would this character be? Who would this person be? What would be happening?'" Gaiman said in 2020. "For Netflix right now, people have tried making some movies and TV adaptations for 30 years, and actively tried making them for 25 years, and they've never worked. And they never worked because of all the special effects and what would be needed to do the special effects. They never worked because you were making something that was adult. People would write Sandman movie scripts, and they go, 'But it's an R-rated movie, and we can't have $100 million R-rated movies.' So, that wouldn't happen. You needed to get to a world in which long-form storytelling is an advantage rather than a disadvantage. And the fact that we have seventy-five issues of Sandman plus -- essentially, 13 full books -- worth of material, is a really good thing. It's not a drawback. It's on our side. And the fact that we're in a world in which we can take things that only existed in comic book art, and that can now exist in reality."
The Sandman premieres on Netflix on August 5th.