After 21 films and counting, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has firmly cemented a particular idea of what a comic book movie should be in the minds of audiences all over the world. But what if you're growing weary of seeing the same stylistic values and aesthetics repeated thrice annually? That's where Todd McFarlane comes in.The outspoken co-creator of Venom and president of Image Comics isn't satisfied with the spandex-clad status quo at our nation's multiplexes. He wants to shake things up by scaring the ever-loving hell out of you and exploring corners of the comic book movie landscape that have remained largely ignored by Marvel and DC.
To do so, McFarlane wants to take one of his most famous creations, Spawn, and turn it into a grim, harrowing, and decidedly R-rated movie. So how will this be different than films likeÂ Deadpool,Â Logan, andÂ Suicide Squad? To explain, McFarlane joined me in studio to talk about how he wants to make something that will stay with you long after the credits roll.[brightcove video_id="5982231051001" brightcove_account_id="3653334524001" brightcove_player_id=â€œrJs2ZD8xâ€]Created by McFarlane in 1992 and published by Image Comics,Â SpawnÂ is the story of Al Simmons, a CIA agent tasked with carrying out some of the most morally gray black ops missions imaginable. When Simmons began to question his agency's motives, he was assassinated by his own partner and his soul went to hell because of the many immoral things he did as part of the CIA. But rather than burn in hell for all eternity, Simmons was given a new lease on life: in exchange for his immortal soul, he was able to return to the land of the living and see his wife Wanda once more. The only problem? His wife has moved on and he is now a demonic nightmare creature with supernatural powers. So he does what any one of us would do next: uses his powers to fight all manner of demons, monsters, and things that go bump in the night.Spawn previously appeared on the big screen in August 1997 in an adaptation of the character's origin story directed by Mark A.Z. DippÃ© and starring Michael Jai White in the title role. It was the first film my family owned on DVD, which is perhaps a sterling reason not to let your child choose your family's first DVD. This time around, McFarlane is penning the script himself and will also direct what he assures me will be a hard R-rated movie. In addition to McFarlane's involvement, Jason Blum of Blumhouse is attached to produce, Jamie Foxx is set to star as Al Simmons/Spawn, and Jeremy Renner will play Detective Twitch.So how different will this version be from other comic book fare hitting the big screen?
Image: New Line Cinema
"Thereâ€™s no joy," McFarlane told me. "Thereâ€™s gonna be no fun lines in it, and itâ€™s just gonna be this dark, ugly two hours worth of movie, which is essentially what a lot of supernatural/horror movies are anyway. Thereâ€™s not a lot of funny in them. And that seems to be a weird hurdle for a lot of people in this city to get over because they sort of go into a superhero/Avengers default all the time."The film is currently in pre-production and we'll continue to keep you updated as we learn more.Editor's note: This video is sponsored by Fox's The Orville. Watch brand new episodes every Thursday at 9/8c on Fox.