Todd McFarlane Wants to Call His Superhero Reboot ‘Spawn… Do You Believe?’

Chris Tilly
Movies Comics
Movies Comics

Todd McFarlane has been talking about his forthcoming reboot of Spawn at New York Comic-Con this week. And it sounds like the movie hasn’t quite got a green-light. Speaking in front of a live audience, McFarlane said that even though Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner have signed up to star in the flick, he’s yet to fully convince Hollywood execs to finance it.

The comic legend explains all via the quotes below, revealing how the movie will take inspiration from 1990s psychological horror Jacob’s Ladder, talking about Greg Nicotero’s involvement, and stating that if he gets his way, the reboot will be called Spawn… Do You Believe?.

The Status of Spawn

Todd McFarlane: “What’s next is getting Hollywood to get this. They’re still a little timid of doing a true, dark, nasty R-rated superhero… as soon as you say superhero, they sort of go into a little bit of a default. So we’re still trying to get them across the finish line.”

“The weak link in this whole thing is me. We’ve got Spawn, we’ve got Jamie [Foxx], Jeremy [Renner] and Jason [Blum]. I’m going to surround myself with an Academy Award-winning director of photography so it will look good. The acting will be good. Stop thinking of this as a traditional superhero movie! Because they go ‘How-come Spawn’s not in it more?’ And all the comments are based on superhero PG-13 thinking. We showed it to a couple of people at the studio last week and you could see they were a little bit… The mistake we made I think…. I told my agent ‘You didn’t let me go in the room!’ I need to go into the room. I need to sell it. I need to tell them what the frame is, of this picture, of the script that they are about to read, because they still keep going into the superhero default. And it doesn’t make sense.”

Jamie Foxx will plays Spawn in the movie.

Nasty, Scary Spawn

McFarlane: “If you read my script with the superhero mode, it’s confusing. You go ‘I don’t understand it.’ Think about it as a scary movie that will get people to be mesmerised by Jeremy Renner’s acting and his character. And then ‘Oh yeah right, Spawn’s in this movie!’ And then he comes and when Spawn comes he’s not owned by corporate America. I don’t care about selling t-shirts and hats. So when Spawn comes, you better not wanna be the bad guy, because when Spawn comes, it’s nice and calm, and then you’re gone. He will mess you up and he will do it in a harsh way. He doesn’t care if he’s selling any toys or t-shirts.”

“…We need to keep nudging them just a little bit more. I think this audience is old enough. I think you are hungry for the same thing I’m hungry for, which is nasty!”

Greg Nicotero’s Involvement

McFarlane:Greg Nicotero, for all you guys who don’t know, he’s directed more Walking Dead shows than anybody else, and he does award-winning costumes. We’ve already designed them. And the great thing about Greg is — because he’s a director –when I was trying to explain what I was going to do onscreen visually, he could understand what that meant. When I use words in the script like ‘Al transforms into Spawn.’ We all have a vision for it. Some of you are Spawn fans so you have a vision for it. I haven’t shown what I want to do in the movie ever in the comic book. It’s a different kind of transformation — and Greg gets it. We designed it so that we could show it. I just don’t think that the studio guys are getting it because they are going ‘You’re going to need to big special effects budget!’ No, no, no, not the way that I want to do it. I think that there’s another way to put something on the screen that is just odd and weird.

“Here’s what I’m hoping — at the end of the movie, you guys walk out of there and go ‘I don’t quite get it. I don’t quite understand how that all worked. But sh*t that looked cool, man!’ I don’t care how I got there. If it’s just cool, cool’s good enough. And if I can bring that for two hours, who cares if I did it with special effects or I did it some other interesting way; we got there!”

Taking Inspiration From Jacob’s Ladder

McFarlane: “When I was a kid, there was a movie that really made an impact on me called Jacob’s Ladder. I was young and I didn’t even know what the hell I was watching, but it was something bizarre. I’m over 50 and I still remember that movie. That’s how much of an impact it had. It was like ‘What the hell was that?’ I saw stuff on the screen that I don’t know what it meant, but it was so messed up and cool and crazy and insane that I just loved it. So I’m hoping to do those kinds of visuals. Most of it without any kind of special effects.”

Calling the Movie Spawn… Do You Believe?

McFarlane: “Once we get sign-off from the studio, then I owe an obligation to go back to the actors and let them do their notes. What I don’t want to do is Jamie’s notes and find out that Jeremy wants to undo it or vice-versa. Probably what I’ll end up doing is see if I can get them both in the same room so that we’re not talking past each other. They both know what they want. I’ve explained to Jamie that he’s not going to talk a hell of a lot in the first movie. I’m selling it as a trilogy, and each movie will look different than the last one. Here’s the thing about the trilogy — a lot of trilogies go back and repeat the last thing. I want each movie to be visually different.”

“If I had to give a title to the first movie, it would be Spawn… Do You Believe?. Because everyone in this movie is going to be going ‘I don’t even know if this even exists, or if it’s in my head, or if it’s a boogeyman, or if it’s physical.’ Once you get past that — we’ll be there probably at the half-way point in the movie — but once you get past that, the second movie becomes completely different. Because now people will be talking to each other different. Because the first movie was ‘I’m crazy, I don’t even know if you exist.’ But the second movie I know you exist so I can have a different conversation.”

Jeremy Renner has been cast as Twitch Williams.

“…It’s funny because the studio is like ‘Why doesn’t Twitch ask this question and this question and this question?’ And I go ‘Because he doesn’t think it’s real. He thinks it’s a ghost.’ Here’s what I know — if I saw my dead grandma in a room, I probably wouldn’t ask her questions. I’d say to myself ‘Todd, you need to get some sleep tonight!’ That’s it. You don’t start going up to figments of your imagination and have conversations with them. You just go ‘Wow, I’ve been working too hard!’ So that’s sort of the set-up we’ll get to so that by Part 3 we get into all the cool crazy stuff, and maybe introduce some of those villains that people are looking for.”

And that was it from Todd. Here’s hoping he convinces those execs, as, if done right, this new Spawn sounds like a wholly unique and original approach to the superhero genre.

Chris Tilly
FANDOM Managing Editor in the UK. At this point my life is a combination of 1980s horror movies, Crystal Palace football matches, and episodes of I'm Alan Partridge. The first series. When he was in the travel tavern. Not the one after.