Jamie Foxx is officially returning to the cinematic world of superheroes and is once again embracing the dark side. He has landed the lead role in Blumhouse films’ ‘Spawn’ based on Todd McFarlane‘s record-selling ’90s Image Comics title. In 1997, New Line released an earlier, low-budget film based on the comic, which predated the boom in comic book movies, which really kicked off the next year with ‘Blade’ and 2000’s ‘X-Men’. Michael Jai White played Spawn in that version, with John Leguizamo as the grotesque serial killer The Clown/Violator.
Foxx will star as Al Newman (named Simmons in the original), a CIA black-ops agent who is double-crossed by his team then killed with his body set on fire to cover up the crime. Once in Hell, he agrees to become a Hellspawn warrior in exchange for being able to reunite with his wife. But once he agrees, he is returned to Earth years later only to find his wife has remarried to his best friend (one of his betrayers) and himself stuck in a grotesque demonic form. (In the original, he could assume a human form, but not his own– a Caucasian blond that was unrecognizable to his wife.)
McFarlane has been plotting this return to the big screen for years and it appears that things have finally come together. (That includes another low-budget horror movie that helped open the door to his vision.) The budget is expected to be between $10-$12 million and McFarlane himself will direct.
Don’t expect anything like the quippy Spider-Man, swinging to the rescue and saving the girl. In fact, from McFarlane’s description, ‘Spawn’ doesn’t sound like a superhero at all.
“The scariest movies, from Jaws to John Carpenter’s The Thing, or The Grudge and The Ring, the boogeyman doesn’t talk. It confuses people because of the comic book industry, and because they all default into their Captain America mindset and I keep saying, no, get into John Carpenter’s mindset or Hitchcock. This is not a man in a rubber suit, it’s not a hero that’s going to come and save the damsel. It’s none of that. At the end of the movie, I’m hoping that the audience will say either, is this a ghost that turns into a man, or is it a man that turns into a ghost? I’ve got a trilogy in mind here, and I’m not inclined in this first movie to do an origin story. I’m mentally exhausted from origin stories. Luckily, there’s a movie that just came out that helps my cause. In A Quiet Place, the first thing on screen is a card in black and white letters that says Day 89. It doesn’t care about what happened in those first 88 days. There are a couple headlines, but then we are on day 450. That movie doesn’t worry about explaining and giving all the answers. What it said in that case was, if you can hang on for a story of survival of this family, this movie will make complete sense for you.
“If you want to see something creepy and powerful where you go, just what the hell was that? I’m not going to explain how Spawn does what he does; he is just going to do it. We’ll eventually do some of the background if we make a trilogy, but that’s not this first movie. The first movie is just saying, do you believe? And if you believe than that’s good because I’m hoping to take you for a long ride with this franchise.”
If the main character is a cipher that doesn’t really speak and will be largely unrecognizable, why hire a well-known Academy Award-winner known for delivering dialogue, whether it’s tough and menacing or suave or comedic?
“There are five or six moments where I’m going to need things from my actors, and a couple of them have to come from Jamie, and I’ve seen him deliver them onscreen. He gets into a zone, with body language and a look that basically will say way more than anything I could type on a piece of paper, and this movie is going to need those moments. And in the odd moment where he has to deliver a line that’s short, curt and has impact, he can do it in a way that makes you go, ‘whoa, I don’t want to mess with that guy. What a badass.’”
“Jamie came to my office five years ago, and he had an idea about Spawn and we talked about it. I never forgot him, and when I was writing this script, you sort of plug people in, and he was my visual guy and I never let go of him. When I got done and my agents and everybody was talking about what actor, I said, I’m going to Jamie first and until he says no I don’t want to think about anyone else because I’ve never had anyone else in my head. Luckily, he hadn’t forgotten either. I said, ‘hey, I’m back to talk about Spawn again, and he was like, let’s do it.’”
A separate statement read:
“We are thrilled Jamie Foxx will be playing the title role in our movie adaptation of Spawn. He is an incredible actor and a huge fan of the Spawn Universe that Todd McFarlane created. With the depth of talent Jamie can commit to the role and Todd at the helm bringing the world of Spawn to life, we could not be more excited for this film.”
Foxx himself announced the news via social media:
“A few years back I flew out to Arizona to meet the man behind one of the most incredible comic book characters in the universe… Todd McFarlane. He was taken aback when I told him with the enthusiasm of a young child that more than anything I wanted to put my name in the hat to embody his beloved character Spawn…. I told him no one would work harder than me if given the opportunity… well… the opportunity is here!! I’m humbled and ready to transform… and to top things off the young Jason Blum is lending his brilliance to the project! Time to be great!!!! #Spawn.”
In 2014, Foxx portrayed Max Dillon/Electro in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ with the possibility of spinning off into a ‘Sinister Six’ movie. But after ‘Amazing 2’ disappointed, further plans were scrapped in favor of a complete reboot of ‘Spider-Man’ made in conjunction with Marvel Studios.
Reportedly, Spawn will appear in the shadows, while the bulk of the movie will actually focus on honest cop Twitch. Foxx is the only cast member that has been announced.
Does this A-List talent give you hopes for this intentionally low-budget picture?