In the comics, Al Simmons is a black-ops soldier betrayed and killed by his own. Finding himself in hell, he agrees to become a demonic Hellspawn soldier in return for reuniting with his wife — a deal that doesn’t work out so well for the transmogrified Al.
McFarlane, making his feature film directorial debut on Spawn, previously described this new take as a “dark, drama, R, supernatural thriller,” compared to the “effects-driven, action PG-13 movie.”
He also tells EW that Spawn won’t speak, which is on par with his favorite ghost stories growing up.
“There’s a mechanism for the character of Spawn to talk, but Spawn himself won’t,” he says. “So there’s gonna be two forms. So when the form of Spawn comes, then that’s it, then it’s just go time. I’ve never been a fan of listening or wanting to see the ghost talk. So when the ghost is there, he’s not gonna talk. But is there a reason why I need an actor? Of course I do. So there will be a voice given to the character, it just won’t be when he’s in costume.”
McFarlane said he met Foxx “years and years ago” and kept hearing the Oscar winner name-drop Spawn in various conversations. “Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, I feel an obligation to go to this super-talented Academy Award winner who took the time to come out to my office and give me the time of day,” he says. “So I think he’s gonna rock.”
The first Spawn movie, directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé and starring Michael Jai White, came out in 1997 with McFarlane producing. For this film, “there’s a bit of selfishness in here,” he admits, in that he wanted to be way more involved.
“If I wanted to be involved, especially from the directing point of view, there was no way I could write a $80-90 million budget movie and ask with a straight face to be the director,” he explains. “If you make something at a low budget,” he adds, “then they’re gonna go and get some 25-year-old inexperienced director anyways, and I go, ‘Let me be that guy… except I’m not gonna be 25.'”
McFarlane shopped Spawn around to multiple studios, but Blumhouse never tried talking him out of the concept kicking around his head for the past 10 years.
“All of the other studios I talked to were like, ‘Todd, this is way too small. We can blow this up, we can make a bigger budget, we can do more,'” the director notes. “[Blum] just went, ‘No, you want to make it small and creepy? I’ll help you get there.'”
Deadline was the first to report the news of Foxx’s casting.