“Spawn” was directed and co-written by Mark A.Z. Dippe and is based on the comic book character and series of the same name. The film stars Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo, Martin Sheen, D.B. Sweeney, Thersea Randle, Melinda Clarke & Nicol Williamson. “Spawn” was one of the first comic book adaptation that wasn’t from Marvel & DC despite being exclusively with Warner Bros. & DC Entertainment now. The film also marks one the first comic book adaptation to feature a black actor in the leading role.
Al Simmons (White) is a U.S. Black Op soldier who does much of the “dirty deeds” following orders of the agency’s director, Jason Wynn (Sheen) and his other Black Op soldier, Jessica Priest (Clarke). Following a mission that had civilian casualties, Simmons wants out to be with his girlfriend, Wanda (Randle). Wynn gives him one last assignment at a North Korean BioChemical Plant. There, Wynn & Priest double cross Simmons & leave him for dead. Simmons’ soul is dragged to Hell where he meets & makes deal with Malebolgia, the Devil. He is turned into Spawn, a eternal servant with incredible abilities of strength, speed, agility, heal & also given a suit & cape with its own abilities. Despite being place back on Earth, 5 long years past & everything has changed. Wynn has created a Chemical weapon to wipeout all of humanity whereas Wanda has moved on & married Simmons’ old partner, Terry Fitzgerald (Sweeny) and also had a daughter. Simmons’ meets the mysterious Clown (Leguizamo) who serves as the Devil’s liaison to insure Spawn does at he’s told. Then there’s the old man, Cogliostro (Williamson), a former Hellspawn who broke free from Hell and now helps those who are lost to find the light. Simmons’ plays the anti-hero who must decide to either do the Devil’s bidding or to help those avoid the Hell he’s gone through and save what little humanity he has left.
“Spawn” was released in 1997 to mostly negative reviews. While the film is far from perfect, it does have its entertainment qualities. White & Leguizamo give solid performances, while everyone else is OK. Sadly, this marked the final film role for Nicol Williamson as he passed away in 2011. The main issues here are the visuals which make the film very dated and of its time. Lots of movies in the 90s did that like “The Lawnmower Man”, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” “Judge Dredd & “Johnny Mnemonic”. While some 90s action films and their visuals still hold up like “The Matrix” and “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, this film along with others do not.
Overall, “Spawn” was cheaply made film that gave the superhero genre a radical and much darker film then anything that Warner Bros. had done up to that point. While “Spawn” didn’t garner the best reviews or box office revenue, that didn’t stop the creator, Todd McFarlane trying to bring his series to the screen. “Todd McFarlane’s Spawn” was an American adult animated series that ran from 1997-1999. Keith David voiced the title character and the show went on to win 2 Emmy Awards in 1998 & 1999. Spawn has ventured into the video game world as a number of games has been released since 1995 including 2003’s “Spawn: Armageddon” which expands more on his origin. Most recently, McFarlane has stated that a rebooted film adaption is in the works with Jamie Foxx rumored to be the titular character.