Todd McFarlane, the creator of Spawn, demanded that his movie reboot be rated R. McFarlane created the comic book character, who first appeared in 1992. Spawn is a series about a deceased cop who returns from Hell to carry out whatever the Devil commands. Since then, the character has appeared in different mediums outside of comics, recently appearing as a guest character in Mortal Kombat 11. There was also a Spawn movie that was released in 1997.
In addition to the 1997 movie, there was also an animated series that aired on HBO. Despite there having been movie and TV adaptations, McFarlane himself has expressed that he wanted to make a new Spawn movie with no compromises. McFarlane announced a new movie in 2015, and it was officially confirmed in 2017 that he would direct it. In 2018, it was announced that Jamie Foxx would play the titular character, and development on the movie started up again in 2019.
During an interview with Shoryuken, McFarlane shared that he only had two demands. The first was that his Spawn reboot have an R-rating. The second demand was that he direct the reboot himself. McFarlane stated, “I have very few demands for the movie. It has to be rated R, there’s no debate around that. With the story I want to tell, my intent goes back to that Spawn Cloud. I am less concerned about what happens in the movie as long as ‘Spawn’ is ‘cool’ and ‘badass.’” With that point, it sounds like McFarlane hopes to take the character back to his roots.
McFarlane continued on about his rating requirement, explaining, “I just want to show that there are better and smarter ways to entertain an audience than what they are used to. So much more is possible once you open yourself to Rated R stories.” He also spoke of budget issues that could prevent him from telling the Spawn story he wants to tell, saying, “But I can’t just do a cardboard version, I need the budget to do it. Just enough to make it the right way.“
An R-rated version of Spawn is definitely an enticing concept and possibly what the gritty origin story of the superhero may need. An R-rating for a superhero movie may have seemed silly a decade ago, but successes of other R-rated comic book stories such as Deadpool and Joker have been proven to do well at the box office. What’s more, both were well-received by critics and audiences alike. R-ratings can add new dimensions to the story with fewer limitations. It’s no surprise that McFarlane is hoping for the same for his popular comic book character.