Superhero Nonsense! Todd McFarlane just doesn’t get it, man

The Venom creator says his upcoming directorial debut, Spawn, will be dark, but let's hope he brings some levity to it. As the extras in Venom's new Blu-ray set show, a little silliness goes a long way.

Last year’s Venom movie may have been a godawful mess, but it made a crap-ton of money, which is why Todd McFarlane is back on the cultural radar. I’m not sure the culture needed him there, but here we are.

Having recently explained that Venom’s bad reviews were the result of film critics being too old to properly understand his character’s totally outrageous paradigm of being edgy and in your face, the self-styled bad boy of comics has also announced the upcoming Spawn reboot, which he’s writing and directing himself, will be just as badass but in a totally different way.

In an interview with Nerdist, McFarlane promised us that the new Spawn movie – which stars Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner – will embrace the darkness so hard that it won’t be any fun at all.

“There’s gonna be no fun lines in it,” he told Dan Casey, “and it’s just gonna be this dark, ugly two hours’ worth of movie.”

While it’s impressive that McFarlane could emerge from the last five or six years of superhero cinema thinking Zack Snyder had the right idea, I’m wondering whether he’s misjudged what Spawn fans want from the property. As someone who has a soft spot for the 1997 Spawn movie – which is no classic, but boasts some really ridiculous digital effects work and a compellingly strange performance by John Leguizamo as a cackling, morbidly obese hell-clown – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that maybe a story about a dark-ops assassin who becomes an undead collector of souls for the Devil needs a little levity to keep it from turning into a super-mopey slog. (We already have the HBO animated series for that.)

Anyway, McFarlane’s clearly going to do what he wants to do – that’s sort of his thing – and a couple of years from now there’ll be a new Spawn movie. It might even arrive around the same time as Sony’s inevitable Venom sequel, which will hopefully lean into the more ridiculous ideas that didn’t make it into the finished film. A deleted scene of Tom Hardy arguing with himself during a cab ride, which surfaced last month, hinted at a much sillier and more appealing tone that disappeared somewhere during post-production.

That deleted scene will appear on the Blu-ray release next week, along with two more it’s nowhere near the “30 to 40 minutes” Hardy teased during the fall press tour, but it’s a start. Maybe those reflect McFarlane’s vision more than the theatrical cut. Maybe he’ll learn from them, and incorporate some of their unpredictable goofiness into a corner of Spawn, just to brighten things up a little.

Just a suggestion, of course. But that’d be nice.

Venom arrives on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD January 8 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, and is already available on the digital platform of your choice.

Superhero Nonsense is NOW’s weekly column delving into all things superheroic. Check out previous columns here.

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