Spawn: Todd McFarlane Would "Think About" Streaming (Gee, Thanks?!)

So what is it about some comic book folks who still think taking their precious IPs to television/streaming is "slumming" compared to being up on the big screen in a movie theater? Or the ones that think their IP is so originally profound that it will change… the very essence of television as we know it! So with Jupiter's Legacy in mind, we're checking in to see how things are going with Todd McFarlane, who has an interesting perspective to share with when it comes to his "upcoming" Spawn movie. No, we're not talking about the 1997 film starring Michael Jai White, John Leguizamo & Martin Sheen that set the film world on fire like a lit bag of dog poo on the front porch during Mischief night. But that same year, Todd McFarlane's Spawn premiered on HBO and would run for three seasons, earning an Emmy & actually not sucking (as compared to the film).

Image: Screencap

But proving once again that no one in the 90's left the decade having learned anything, McFarlane's attempts to bring Spawn to the big screen would roll on… at least, until 2017. And that's when things just looked spectacular! There was buzz that he was developing a low-budget, R-rated reboot with Jason Blum and Blumhouse Productions ("The Purge" and "Halloween" franchises). Not only that, but McFarlane would be making his feature directorial debut, and then we learned that Jamie Foxx was set to lead, and Hawkeye & Mayor of Kingstown star Jeremy Renner on board as Det. Twitch Williams. But that was 2017, and even without a global pandemic in the mix? Five years is a lifetime in pop culture… especially television.

In fact, it's been so long that McFarlane revealed to at San Diego Comic-Con 2022 this past weekend that he's "had that conversation." What conversation? The one that would involve him making a lot of money from a streaming service for a series as opposed to a film (which would probably end up streaming-first anyway). "The answer is you should probably think about it [doing a streaming series]," McFarlane shared. "What if one of the big networks comes out and draws up a ton of cash and says they want to make it a streaming movie? My only hesitation for that kind of deal right now is that there's no data that I can think of that somebody's been able to build a [movie] franchise starting as a streaming [series]. [Franchises] start in the theaters, then you can do side movies, then you can go to a series spun off from it."

He continued, "But to just go, 'We're gonna build a franchise in a big, big meaningful way from streaming,' I don't see any evidence of that. If anything, I would argue, I see a little bit of the opposite. Some big series come out, they're hot as heck, then two years later, they're forgotten because there's a hundred other series that are out. These fantastic shows are in and out in a year or two." Wow. So even though McFarlane's last two adaptation efforts let a big loss on the film side and a big win on the television side, he still sees Film as the only primary home for Spawn (despite the fact that there hasn't been another big screen "adventure" in a quarter-century). And as for his views on how theaters are working now? None of that seems to realistically vibe with the realities of the post-COVID theater-going vibe. And as for his last thought? Well, let's just say that "fantastic" is subjective, so that's near-impossible to argue. But if you're talking about The Boys, Ozark, Stranger Things, The Handmaid's Tale, Succession, The Umbrella Academy, and dozens of others that easily fit the "fantastic" tag? Well, I don't know who you're hanging out with, but those shows are far from "forgotten."

But I do understand the "issues" that some creators would have with streaming as opposed to film. Because with streaming, you're probably looking at six episodes that have to be filled with creative, addictive storytelling that will keep viewers tuning in for the equivalent of six hours. Unfortunately, some IPs can barely go 90 minutes without having to pad out the time with Michael Bay-like eye candy filler. Nearly 25 years ago, we saw that Spawn could go either way. But treating a streaming series as some kind of "award for participating" and a step down from film is definitely not the right way to go.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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