Monday, January 9, 2012
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. 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.
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, 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. In the comics, Cyan is clearly Terry's daughter, introduced in the third issue as being roughly 18 months old. Since Al was in hell for five years, he couldn't 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 movie did not.
It is revealed in the film that Jessica Priest was Al's murderer. In the comic book series, Al Simmons' murderer was originally Chapel, character originally created by Rob Liefeld for the comic Youngblood. Due to the eventual severing of professional ties between Liefeld and McFarlane, the story may have been altered for the purposes of the film. Chapel remained in the Spawn television series, which premiered on HBO months before the film was released. Additionally, it was later revealed in the comic book series, in a case of questionable retcon, that Jessica was indeed Al's murderer after all. 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, which makes the limits of Spawn's powers unclear.