Spawn (film)

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Spawn
Spawnmovieposter.jpg
Original release poster
Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé
Produced by Clint Goldman
Screenplay by Alan B. McElroy
Story by Alan B. McElroy
Mark A.Z. Dippé
Based on Spawn 
by Todd McFarlane
Starring Michael Jai White
John Leguizamo
Martin Sheen
Nicol Williamson
Theresa Randle
D. B. Sweeney
Music by Graeme Revell
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Rick Shaine
Michael N. Knue
Todd Busch
Production
  company
Todd McFarlane Entertainment
Pull Down Your Pants Pictures
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date(s)
  • August 1, 1997 (1997-08-01)
Running time 96 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million[2]
Box office $87,840,042[2]

Spawn is a 1997 American superhero film loosely based on the comic book of the same name, by Todd McFarlane and published by Image Comics. Directed and co-written by Mark A.Z. Dippé (a former Industrial Light & Magic animator), the film stars Michael Jai White in the leading role. Spawn is an origin story of the character, and begins with Al Simmons, a soldier/assassin who is killed and resurrected as Spawn, a reluctant, demonic leader of Hell's army. Spawn eventually refuses to lead Hell's army in the war against Heaven and turns against evil forces all together. The film co-stars John Leguizamo as Clown/The Violator, Al's demonic guide and the film's antagonist; and Nicol Williamson as Al's mentor Cogliostro. Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, D. B. Sweeney, and Melinda Clarke also star.

Spawn was released in the United States on August 1, 1997. It was the first film to feature an African American portraying a major comic book superhero.[3] This was Williamson's final film appearance before his death on December 16, 2011.

Plot[edit]

Al Simmons, a military soldier/assassin, is betrayed by Jason Wynn, the head of a covert government agency. Wynn assigns Simmons a mission to take out a Bio-Chem plant in North Korea while ordering his top assassin, Jessica Priest, to assassinate him. After Simmons dies from a gas fire caused by Wynn, he arrives in Hell, where Malebolgia, the Devil, offers him a Faustian deal. If Simmons becomes his eternal servant and leader of his army in Armageddon, he will be able to return to Earth to see his fiancée, Wanda Blake. Simmons accepts the offer and is returned to Earth.

When he returns, Simmons learns that five years have passed. Wanda is now married to his best friend, Terry, and living the life he longed for, including the daughter he never knew, Cyan. He encounters a strange clown-like demon called The Violator, who acts as a guide, setting "Spawn" onto the path to evil. He also meets a mysterious old man named Cogliostro, a fellow Hellspawn who freed his soul and now fights for Heaven. Wynn has become a high-class weapons dealer and developed the ultimate biological weapon, "Heat 16". During a reception, Simmons attacks Wynn, kills Jessica, and escapes, instinctively using Spawn's strange armor.

Following Simmons' attack, The Violator convinces Wynn to have a device attached to his heart that will trigger the worldwide release of Heat 16 should his vital signs flatline. The device is supposedly a safeguard against assassination attempts, but Malebolgia actually wants Simmons to kill Wynn and trigger the apocalypse. Spawn confronts The Violator, who turns into his demonic form and beats him down. Cogliostro rescues him and teaches him how to use his necroplasm armor before Spawn learns that Clown and Wynn are going to kill Terry.

Meanwhile, Terry has just finished texting a fellow newsman who sent him evidence exposing Wynn. After the transmission, Cyan enters the room, with Wynn right behind her. Wynn destroys Terry's computer and takes the family hostage. When Spawn arrives, he ends up almost killing Jason Wynn, despite his warning that his death will launch the Heat 16 bombs. Only after realizing that Jason's death would ultimately mean the death of Cyan does he relent. Instead, he extracts the device from Wynn's body before destroying it. His plans foiled, Clown draws Spawn and Cogliostro into Hell, where Spawn tells Malebolgia that he will never lead his army. He escapes with Cogliostro just before they are overwhelmed and returns to the real world. The Violator follows and there is a final battle between him and Spawn, ending with Spawn severing the demon's head with his chains. Wynn is arrested and Spawn, realizing there is no place for him in Wanda's world anymore, dedicates himself to justice rather than succumbing to his lust for vengeance.

Cast[edit]

Hughes was a Spawn enthusiast, professing that "[I've been] getting all the comics and action figures since they've been coming out."[4]

Cameos
  • At the government-hosted gala, a red-headed woman with the typical Spawn symbol on her earrings. This cameo, albeit brief, is generally considered to be a nod to the angelic Spawn-hunter Angela, played by Laura Stepp.
  • Creator McFarlane makes a cameo appearance as one of the bums running away during the alley fight between Spawn and the Violator.
  • Detectives Sam Burke and Twitch Williams are shown taking Wynn into custody near the end of the film.

Differences from comic[edit]

Although the film was based on the comic book series, some details were changed for the theatrical version of Spawn. Terry Fitzgerald, Al Simmons' best friend in his former life, a black man in the comic and the TV series, was played by D. B. Sweeney, a white man, in the film. McFarlane has explained that this was done by the studio to avoid having too many black leads and creating a perception the film was aimed at just a black target audience.[citation needed] In the comics, Cyan is clearly Terry's daughter, introduced in the third issue as being roughly eighteen months old. Since Al was in hell for five years, he could not be Cyan's father. In the movie it is implied that the reverse is true. In the film, Wanda was revealed to be engaged to Al prior to his death whereas in the comic the two were married. The comic had Al striking Wanda; the film did not.

In the comic book series, Al Simmons' murderer was Chapel, a character created by Rob Liefeld for the comic Youngblood. In the film, Jessica Priest takes Chapel's place in the story.[5] Chapel remained in the Spawn television series, which premiered on HBO months before the film was released. Additionally, in a later retcon, Priest is Al's murderer in the comic book series as well. In the film, Simmons worked for an agency called A6, while in the comic book he worked for the CIA.

The nature of Spawn's powers and allies are different. Cogliostro, for example, while revealed to be Cain in the comics, is portrayed as an assassin for the church in the fifteenth century, who has forsaken most of his Spawn-based powers, apart from the blade attached to his right wrist, his favorite weapon. While Cogliostro warns Spawn that he will die if his powers are drained, no reference is ever made to Spawn possessing a "counter" like in the comics.

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

Spawn was released on August 1, 1997 and its opening weekend take was $19,738,749 ranking it second place behind Air Force One. For its second weekend, the film remained at the third spot, dropping 54.7%, and grossing $8,949,953.[6] The film was considered a modest box-office success; based on a $40 million budget, it grossed $54,870,174 domestically and $32,969,867 overseas for a worldwide total of $87,840,042.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The film received negative reviews from film critics. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film is rated at 19% on the Tomatometer, based on 42 reviews with the consensus: "Spawn is an overbearing, over-violent film that adds little to the comic book adaptation genre."[7] It holds a score of 34 out of 100 from 17 critics on Metacritic.[8] One of the few positive reviews was from Roger Ebert, who awarded the film 3½ out of 4 stars. He ended his review with, "As a visual experience, Spawn is unforgettable."[9]

Accolades[edit]

At the Saturn Awards, Spawn was nominated for Best Make-up. The film was also nominated for three Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for "Favorite Male Newcomer" (Michael Jai White), "Favorite Horror Supporting Actor" (John Leguizamo) and "Favorite Horror Supporting Actress" (Theresa Randle). At the Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival, Spawn was nominated for Best Film; the film was also nominated for & won the Best Special Effects award.

Home media[edit]

There are two versions of the film, the PG-13 version and the R-rated director's cut. Both versions are available on VHS while only the R-rated director's cut is available on DVD and later on Blu-ray, which was released on July 10, 2012.[10]

Sequel[edit]

A sequel, tentatively titled Spawn 2, has been in development hell, since 1998.[11][12][13] Michael Jai White confirmed himself to be a part of the project in 2001, as did producer Don Murphy,[14][15] though their involvements were not confirmed. McFarlane has stated that the film will be primarily centered around the detective characters Sam and Twitch, leaving Spawn without a speaking part.[12][13] During a FanboyRadio.com interview, McFarlane confirmed that the sequel is a franchise reboot — not a direct sequel — similar to Batman Begins and both the 2004 version of The Punisher and 2008's Punisher: War Zone.[16]

In 2007, plans were made for McFarlane Funding to make a new Spawn film, scheduled for release in 2008.[17] The film may simply be called Spawn, according to Home Media Magazine.[18] While a guest on the Scott Ferrall show on Sirius radio, a caller asked if he had any plans to do the sequel. He said "It's coming out no matter what. Even if I have to produce, direct and finance it myself, it's going to come out."

It was announced in August 2009 that McFarlane had officially begun writing the screenplay for a new movie based on the character. "The story has been in my head for 7 or 8 years," McFarlane said. "The movie idea is neither a recap or continuation. It is a standalone story that will be R-rated. Creepy and scary." He added that "the tone of this 'Spawn' movie will be for more older audience. It’s not going to be a giant budget with a lot of special effects; it’s going to be more of a horror movie and a thriller movie, not a superhero one.[19] Like the film 'The Departed.'" [20] On March 31, 2011, Todd McFarlane said that he is three quarters through the script, plans to have the movie around a 10 million dollar budget and the movie will feature no super villains.[21] Michael Jai White said in July 2011 that he was interested in returning to the role for the next film: "I hope [McFarlane] does [make the film]. In the next couple years I might have to produce it myself. It’s a no-brainer. Look at how these movies have done, superhero movies that have gone dark, and there hasn’t been one darker than Spawn. If we do it like we want to, it could be a game changer. I think Todd feels the same way as me – that we go R. Not a kinder, gentler Spawn, we go straight R – like pushing it, pushing NC-17. Give the fans what they expect. That edge brought [the comic book] to where it is. I would really like to show what that character can be."[22] McFarlane revealed to MTV Geek that he's still working on the script and a new animated series, he also mentioned that an Academy Award winning actor is being interest for the part, but would not reveal his name at this time.[23] In July 2013, Jamie Foxx says he's "aggressively pursuing' the Spawn reboot.[24]

In August 2013, McFarlane hopes to start shooting in 2014, with the studio wanting his script in by December.[25] On October 10, 2013, McFarlane revealed to Assignment X that he wants the film to be a supernatural thriller, without the superhero elements commonly associated with Spawn.[26]

Soundtrack[edit]

Spawn: The Album
Soundtrack album by Various
Released 29 July 1997
Genre Industrial metal, alternative metal, rap metal, nu metal, electronica, experimental
Label Sony
Producer Various
Singles from Spawn: The Album
  1. "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do"
    Released: October 7, 1997
  2. "Long Hard Road Out of Hell"
    Released: November 11, 1997
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2.5/5 stars[27]
Entertainment Weekly (A) 08/08/1997
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars 08/21/1997

Spawn: The Album was released in July 1997 and brought together popular rock bands at the time including Metallica, Korn, Slayer, Marilyn Manson, and Silverchair with well-known DJs and electronic producers such as The Crystal Method, Roni Size, and The Prodigy. A similar concept was previously implemented on the rock/hip hop-infused Judgment Night soundtrack. The album debuted at #7 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and stayed in the chart for 25 weeks. The album is certified Gold for selling over 500,000 copies in America.[28]

There are several limited editions of the soundtrack.[citation needed] A limited US version featuring different cover artwork plus the bonus track "This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix) by Apollo 440 and Morphine; an Australian version featuring yet another cover (with the same image as on Spawn #39 and the marquee of Spawn: In the Demon's Hand) plus the bonus track; and a Japanese version with the same cover art as the Australian, including a bonus disc containing three remixes as well as the extra track 15. The McFarlane Collector's Club made an LP release available to members featuring the standard album art and a translucent red disc.

Track listing
  1. "(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" - Filter & The Crystal Method – 4:28
  2. "Long Hard Road Out of Hell" - Marilyn Manson & Sneaker Pimps – 4:21
  3. "Satan" - Orbital & Kirk Hammett – 3:45
  4. "Kick the P.A." - Korn & The Dust Brothers – 3:21
  5. "Tiny Rubberband" - Butthole Surfers & Moby – 4:12
  6. "For Whom the Bell Tolls (The Irony of It All)" - Metallica & DJ Spooky – 4:39
  7. "Torn Apart" - Stabbing Westward & Wink – 4:53
  8. "Skin Up Pin Up" - Mansun & 808 State – 5:27
  9. "One Man Army" - Prodigy & Tom Morello – 4:14
  10. "Spawn" - Silverchair & Vitro – 4:28
  11. "T-4 Strain" - Henry Rollins & Goldie – 5:19
  12. "Familiar" - Incubus & DJ Greyboy – 3:22
  13. "No Remorse (I Wanna Die)" - Slayer & Atari Teenage Riot – 4:16
  14. "A Plane Scraped Its Belly on a Sooty Yellow Moon" - Soul Coughing & Roni Size – 5:26
Bonus tracks
  1. "This Is Not a Dream" (UK Mix) - Apollo 440 & Morphine

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[29] 15
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[30] 33
French Albums (SNEP)[31] 43
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[32] 38
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[33] 1
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[34] 73
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[35] 15
US Billboard 200[36] 7

References[edit]

  1. ^ "SPAWN (12)". Entertainment Film Distributors. British Board of Film Classification. August 13, 1997. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Spawn (1997)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Michael Jai White is first Black comic superhero to star on the movie screen in 'Spawn.'", JET, September 22, 1997. Retrieved 2010-02-14.
  4. ^ Allstetter, Rob (August 1997). "Celebrity Profile: Miko Hughes". Wizard (72). p. 121. 
  5. ^ Beatty, Scott (August 1997). "Spawn: The Movie Figures". Wizard (72). p. 86. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Rotten Tomatoes.com - Spawn
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (August 1, 1997). "Spawn". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-07-28. 
  10. ^ http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Spawn-Blu-ray/40875/
  11. ^ Head, Steve (2001-03-12). "Michael Jai White Gives IGN FilmForce the Latest on Spawn 2". IGN. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  12. ^ a b "Spawn". Comics 2 Film. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  13. ^ a b Campea, John (2006-02-27). "Spawn 2". The Movie Blog. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  14. ^ Stax (2002-12-03). "Spawn 2 Update". IGN. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  15. ^ Stax (2003-07-10). "Who Might Direct Transformers?". IGN. Retrieved 2007-03-21. 
  16. ^ "Fanboy Radio #357 - Todd McFarlane LIVE" (MP3). FanboyRadio.com. 13 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  17. ^ Weinberg, Scott (June 4, 2007). "Todd McFarlane Funding a New "Spawn" Movie?". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  18. ^ "Todd McFarlane Begins Work on New 'Spawn' Film". Bloody-Disgusting.com. May 31, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  19. ^ http://www.vh1.in/entertainment/movies/current/todd-mcfarlanes-got-big-plans-for-spawn-reboot
  20. ^ "McFarlane Starts Writing New Spawn Movie". 
  21. ^ http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Dustin03Comics/news/?a=34284
  22. ^ Michael Jai White Wants to Return for a Hard-R Rated ‘Spawn’ Movie | Screen Rant
  23. ^ [3]
  24. ^ Comic-Con Interview: Jamie Foxx on Spider-Man, 'Annie,' Sinister Six and... a 'Booty Call' Sequel?
  25. ^ http://screenrant.com/spawn-movie-reboot-todd-mcfarlane-interview-2013/
  26. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (9 October 2013). "Interview: Todd McFarlane on SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE". Assignment X. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 
  27. ^ "Spawn: The Album - Original Soundtrack". AllMusic. 
  28. ^ "RIAA Database Search for Spawn" Recording Industry Association of America.
  29. ^ "Soundtrack – Spawn". Australiancharts.com. Hung Medien.
  30. ^ "Soundtrack - Spawn" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien.
  31. ^ "Soundtrack – Spawn". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien.
  32. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH.
  33. ^ "Soundtrack – Spawn". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien.
  34. ^ "Soundtrack – Spawn" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien.
  35. ^ "Soundtrack – Spawn". Norwegiancharts.com. Hung Medien.
  36. ^ "Soundtrack Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Soundtrack. Prometheus Global Media.

External links[edit]