In the 90s, I was a die-hard Spawn fan. I had the comics, loved the movie (at the time), played the video game on Super Nintendo, owned the HBO series on VHS, had a collection of Spawn pogs, and even owned Sam & Twitch figures.When rumblings of the reboot actually coming to together I was actually excited for it to finally come together. Despite my reservations of first-time feature director Todd McFarlane taking the helm, it landing at Blumhouse was music to my ears over the weekend.
However, it seems like we won’t be seeing major characters fans attribute to the franchise, as Omega Underground has compiled a list of characters unlikely to be seen in the film due to legal issues and possible budgetary constraints.
First, Neil Gaiman sold Marvel Comics the rights to demon hunter Angela, who was created by Gaiman for Spawn #9 which he in 2012 gained the full rights. This makes things super tricky to have her in the film rights-wise. She might be one of the biggest supporting characters attributed to the franchise and her sale was out of McFarlane’s control has he stated to Newsarama. Angela become a central character in the third season of the HBO Spawn series.
“Neil Gaiman and I had a resolution in our legal dispute, and as part of that he ended up with the rights of Angela,” the Spawn creator told Newsarama. “Whatever Neil chooses to do with something that he owns is at his complete and utter discretion.”
Another major character under the control of Gaiman is Spawn’s homeless angel Cogliostro, a former Hellspawn who refuses to use his powers and tries to guide Spawn towards the light. In the HBO series, he was a major character as he was combined with Medieval Spawn and became the show’s narrator. Gaiman also retained the rights to Medieval Spawn aka Sir John of York as well which means he can’t be used either.
On two separate occasions I’ve asked Chapel creator Rob Liefeld (Deadpool, X-Force, Youngblood) if Todd is able to the Youngblood member in the film. Which his replied both times was with a strong “no”. He was a villain in the HBO series as Jess Chapel (killing Al Simmons on a mission) which sort of guided me towards Youngblood and his solo comics at Image back in the day. I understand the why, but as a fan I’m a little disappointed.
Bruce Stinson was a soldier who, late in his career, participated in Operation Knightstrike alongside Al Simmons, a fellow soldier-turned-mercenary. According to the Spawn animated series, Chapel was born in a prison in Joliet, Illinois. He is a known smoker and womanizer, who is proficient in unconventional warfare such as torture. At one point Chapel was ordered by his superior to murder Al Simmons. The order was given because Al Simmons was a suspected spy. However, Al Simmons became the dark vigilante, Spawn.
In the live-action film he was replaced with Jessica Priest aka Jess Chapel (same name used in the HBO series), this will likely become his surrogate. As we suspect there will be many of them of them in this incarnation.
A third character is unlikely to appear due to a previous lawsuit. Spawn’s mob boss villain Tony Twist might also be absent due to another lawsuit. As Todd seemingly used the name of an NHL hockey player which led to an eventual hefty settlement. I’d assume they would just avoid Twist altogether to avoid any further legal trouble. Funny enough, there was yet another lawsuit that involved former employee Al Simmons (name was used for Spawn) for the book which was cited for the Tony Twist lawsuit which listed the hockey player as inspiration for the Twist character.
Although, unlike the first three we don’t have official word they can’t use Tony but it does sound Todd wants to use the mob in some way.
Things are starting to look like the film won’t exactly be as recognizable to fans as we first thought. You can start to understand why Todd wants to focus everything from the cop’s perspective here as there are less characters to work with. We could still be getting villains like Violator, Malebolgia, Jason Wynn, Clayton Crain (Overkill), and possibly even Billy Kincad (this one might be even too distasteful for Blumhose).
But when speaking to Collider he suggests that Twitch and Spawn might be the only big existing characters we will see. Also, Spawn being the only supernatural element of the film (what about Violator and Malebolgia are they gone too?) which might speak to the $10-15M budget.
Jason Wynn and the mob sound like they’re likely going to be the villains here.
The film is expected to be told from the perspective of Detective Twitch (what about Sam why isn’t he mentioned?), Todd recently suggesting to Vulture he’d like to see Leonardo DiCaprio as one of the leads (Twitch or Wynn?). I’m a bit curious if we’re going to have two sets of these characters since Kevin Smith is making a TV series with the two as the leads. So, we at the very least know these two detectives will be in the film along with Spawn.
A release date or production start (Todd suggests a start in January) hasn’t begun, but it does sounds like the next phase will indeed be casting the roles.
I’m still a little skeptical we could be seeing a Django Unchained reunion as Jamie Foxx has been suggested for the Al Simmons role.