Film Threat archive logo


By Felix Vasquez Jr. | October 5, 2006

I have no ideas today, nor do I have much of a story to tell, but damn it, I enjoy writing, and I will bring this entry to you come hell or bad heart burn!

I remember the “Spawn” comics.

I didn’t get into the craze when the “Spawn” series unleashed itself onto audiences back in the early nineties. This was the early days of Image comics when the company supposedly was built by artists exiled by the major companies. Sparks of drama, doesn’t it?

Suddenly, everyone wanted to create a Spawn of their very own, and heroes took on a darker edge to compete with the indie cred Image comics spewed. Of course now the rebel has become the machine.

Anyway, I wasn’t one of the people who bought into it, because I found “Spawn” boring, it was too dark for my tastes, and well… I was too poor to buy comics enough.

“Spawn” was basically Faust, except in a comic setting, sans the deep myths, and bringing on the whole superhero vibe, with prima donna McFarlane milking his burnt cow for all it was worth. Seriously, don’t get me started on McFarlane. His toys are great, but otherwise… I’ll move on.

“Spawn” was a comic I wasn’t accustomed to, and in spite of owning the first issue, its sophisticated storyline, and being generally optimistic towards Image comics and the interchangeable array of titles, I didn’t click with the character.

And the “Spawn” television series on HBO wasn’t much to scoff at either.

He was a bad guy who made a deal with the devil, and became a burnt hero with a live costume that was beyond bad-assnessness (I know it’s not a word). Yet I found it boring, go figure. But this is coming from a fan of Superman and Daredevil. So judge me, or agree.

“Spawn” has to be one of the worst comic book movies ever made, next to Story’s “Fantastic Four,” and “Superman IV” with Kryptonian Bon Jovi. I should make a list someday of the worst. It would include “”Superman III,” 94’s “”Fantastic Four,” and “”Howard the Duck,” another childhood favorite. But that will be for another entry.

The day I went to check it out, my family and I took in a double feature. First, we went to see “Air Force One,” and then “Spawn.” I wasn’t looking forward to “Air Force One.” But little did I know this circumstance resulted in me utterly loving this Harrison Ford action flick of featuring a*s kicking president.

Then we went to see “Spawn,” and… my most anticipated movie of that year ended up being an awful waste of time and money. From the minute the credits began to roll, the movie rubbed me the wrong way.

We were in the theaters on a Saturday night, and the theater in which we went to see the film was utterly empty. That should have been a warning sign. Even for a young boy like I, it simply wasn’t an enjoyable experience. The movie was deafening, the direction was dark, and I couldn’t sit through most of it.

Director Mark A.Z. Dippé and New Line had turned a very sophisticated, very adult, and very gory series into a PG-13 crap fest filled with every action cliché in human existence.

In the 1997 film, Spawn is now a superhero in the vein of Batman, who looks like a meatball, and wears a live suit that he rarely uses in battle until it’s convenient to the special effects. And his cape is almost non-existent. Michael Jai White, miscast from the get go, stars as Al, a soldier who makes a deal with the devil after being burned alive.

Spawn rises as the burnt meatball, and learns how to use his live costume thanks to a Spawn of the past, who is his own “Obi-Wan,” English accent, poetic insight and all! Out goes the darkness, out goes the lore, and in comes the horrible action.

Pair that with an over the top performance by Martin Sheen, and one of the worst performances by John Leguizamo, and we’re in for a rather awful action film. Spawn is no longer a torture soul, but a young man who spouts action one-liners, and prefers to work with a s**t load of guns instead of remembering that he was told frequently that his suit can do anything it wants, heal him, and mold to his hearts content to fight evil!

And he still wants to use guns that never penetrate the villains–of course he can’t catch on. But that doesn’t stop him from continuous use of machine guns, and more machine guns. Even with Melinda Clarke co-starring, nothing could save this movie from being crapalicious.

Al/Spawn hangs out in the alleys with the poor, groans and whimpers about his hot wife Wanda, and really does nothing else, except when he’s egged on by Violator. Leguizamo, in an awful dwarf costume is one of the most boring and ridiculous villains in action movie history.

To add insult to injurt, they took an awfully menacing villain and turned him into Quasi-Joker. He eggs Spawn on, and he makes bad jokes at his dispense, all of which are safe enough to garner the PG-13 rating.

“Spawn” was an assault on my pre-pubescent ears. I just sat there in the theater with a mixture of disappointment at the poor pay off to a potentially excellent film, and in pain from the endless explosions and bad dialogue inflicting horror on my ears.

Suffice it to say when all was said and done, no one wanted to admit the film was awful, and we played mock enthusiasm until the ride home when we all agreed: “Spawn” was s**t. And all we did afterward was talk about “Air Force One.”

Years after, I feel inclined to give it a chance and watch it again, and to this day I’m still disappointed, and horrified at the complete missed opportunity. But I still can’t help but laugh in sheer embarrassment when Leguizamo proclaims, “You’ve been violated Girly Man!”

Years later, “”Spawn” is now a dot on the long list of bad comic book movies, and the sequel remains in limbo, dashing back and forth between studios and rumors, and never molding. But who can blame them?

Give me pouty Quasi-blonde cardboard cut out Jessica Alba in a blue suit any day over Michael Jai White screaming “”Wanda!” ad nauseum in “”Spawn.” Oh, the horror.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Kyle says:

    Hey. Im taking an English class at the University Wisconsin Oshkosh and the theme of our class is “the comic book”. At the beginning of the semester i choose to write about Spawn. Our goal this paper was to write about the “unoffical” image of Spawn. I would just like to say thank you for this Blog, it took me forever to find something to read and beable to write about. And if you could just keep posting random info on him that would be much appreciated. Thank you


Join our Film Threat Newsletter

Newsletter Icon