It’s been quite a while since we’ve heard of any activity surrounding Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s big screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s classic Vertigo/DC Comics series, Sandman. It wasn’t in Warner Bros.’ big announcement for their slate of DC Comics-based movies last year, leading many to wonder if maybe the whole project was off. Sandman is one of the epic works of graphic novel fiction, right up there with the likes of Watchmen and Preacher, an epic story begun by Neil Gaiman in 1988 that ran eight years with seventy-five issues, and ended in 1996. Many have felt that the huge story was too daunting to be contained successfully into one film, leading some to think that JGL might have bitten off more than he can chew.
Well, not so fast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is still committed to bringing Sandman to life and is taking his time to do it the proper way. Speaking to MTV, he said, “It’s really good, man. It’s slow but steady; It’s a really complicated adaptation because those comics, they’re brilliant. But they’re not written as a whole. It’s not like Watchmen, which is a graphic novel that has a beginning, middle, and end. Sandman was written over the course of whatever — I forget exactly, six or seven years. One at a time. One little 20-page issue at a time. And to try to take that and make it into something that’s a feature film — a movie that has a beginning, middle, and end — is complicated.”
Although Sandman is indeed a big, epic tale, within that larger story there a several smaller stories, any of which could be adapted into the framework of a film, which makes Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s job slightly easier than Zack Snyder’s was when adapting Watchmen. One thing the movie won’t have, though, is fisticuffs. “Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing sh-t up. This has nothing to do with that. And it was actually one of the things that Neil Gaiman said to me, he said ‘Don’t have any punching.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does.”
Well, JGL is certainly saying all of the right things. Here’s hoping that Warner Bros. is supportive of his vision of the story, and that they don’t muck this one up.