Spawn 1997


It’s Monday night and my latest batch of movies are due back the next day with Spawn still left to watch, it’s the second movie fitting my theme for February. Even though this movie is rated PG-13 just like Catwoman and Captain America, I figured it was a bit too far out there for my daughter so Jena sat this one out. I’d seen this movie before a long time ago, I don’t remember exactly where, probably on TV or home video. The one thing I do remember about the campaign around this movie is an interview with John Leguizamo talking about playing the clown who seemed pretty passionate about the comic and the fact that even though he was pretty short, he was still five foot something, where the clown was supposed to be around three foot something, so he played it hunched down as much as he could to make it closer to the comic. I remember thinking it was pretty impressive that he showed that much enthusiasm for the comic book.

Spawn comes from Image comics and creator Todd McFarlane, whose name I recognize as one of the few writer/artists in the comic book world that I know for the simple fact that he has gone to great lengths to make his name known. Next to Stan Lee, I would guess that Todd McFarlane’s name is one of the best known names in comics to non-comic fans or casual comic fans. I had never read, and have still never read a Spawn comic book but I am familiar with his image. He has a great look, and I don’t feel that it copied over to the screen very well. My impression based on comic book covers is that Spawn’s costume is sleek and smooth, but in the movie it’s very heavily texture and it ends up looking like molded rubber which is probably what it is. The only part that the movie got right was the cape, and even though it’s used infrequenly, I thought it looked fantastic as did all the moving parts of the costume like the chains, the spikes, and whatnot, but when he’s just walking around it looks like he’s in a rubber suit.

Anyway, this movie tells the origin of Spawn and has a ton of boring exposition especially at the beginning with what felt like the longest credit sequence ever. Something about hell’s armies, chosen one, blah blah blah, I kind of tuned out during that part. They introduce the man who would be Spawn as a government looking non-government military agent who specializes in assassinations. He’s killed by his boss played by Martin Sheen because he wanted out, and I think the clown told Martin Sheen to do it also, but you find that out later. They also exploded a chemical plant that somehow created an ultravirus that he was then able to weaponize and create a cure for himself and his would-be allies. Cut to Spawn waking up in a bum city slash alleyway with his face scarred from burns and occasionally glowing green, met by an out of time looking guy who also glowed green earlier who tries to reason with Spawn, help him, and teach him. Basically this movie’s attempt at an Obi-Wan type character.

You find out that Spawn agreed to lead the army of the worst looking CGI Satan beast I’ve ever seen because… you know, they never really explained why CGI Satan needed to have him specifically lead his army in the first place. And the battle begins between Cogli…whatever, the old guy and the Clown battling over Spawn’s conscience. The Clown is doing his best to get him to kill Martin Sheen and release the virus all over the world, while the old guy is trying to reach Spawn’s humanity and have him fight for good. Of course, being sent back from Hell comes with benefits in the form of necroplasm. At least I think that’s what they called it. It pretty much does whatever you want it to, like an evil Green Lantern ring, though it tends to be used for a lot cooler things than a giant fist or a giant flyswatter. At the same time I guess it’s also used for some weird lame things like suction cup hands and making him look like a wall for a few seconds only to be seen as soon as he stops hiding. There’s also a couple mentions of how you can die as a Hellspawn, you either have your head cut off or you use up all your necroplasm power.

There’s also the requisite loves story where Spawn loved Wanda, but since Spawn was left in Hell for five years, she has since married Spawn’s old partner and has what looks like a six year old kid. Was this written by the same person that wrote Superman Returns? It seemed like they used the same math. They also never explicitly said whether or not the kid is Spawn’s kid or Spawn’s partner’s kid, though it seems like she was Spawn’s kid. Of course good wins out at the end with Spawn escaping Hell and taking over for the old guy in the fight for good or whatever.

I wanted to like this movie. I remembered liking it when I saw it the first time, but it wasn’t all that great at all. There’s so much of it that just doesn’t make sense. Why was Spawn chosen? Why is he needed specifically to lead Satan’s army? Why do they need him specifically to kill Martin Sheen, why not just have the Clown do it? Why send him back to Earth in an old alleyway right next to the guy that escaped Hell 500 years ago and has been fighting them ever since? Why does Spawn have an entire body of necroplasm for him to use while the old guy just has the one arm? And what the heck did Spawn do to all those other Spawn-looking demons when he was back in Hell the second time? Was he stealing their necroplasm? Just shooting out weird green electricity? And most of the CGI in this movie is horribly dated. The only good parts were Spawn’s cape, some of his armor powers, and some of the scenes with the Violator. Although I get the feeling that the better scenes of the Violator were done with models or animatronics rather than CGI. Either that or just better CGI.

The best part of the movie surprisingly is the Clown. Funnily enough I remembered not liking the Clown very much when I first saw the movie. But somehow his constant string of bad jokes, farts, and just plain being disgusting was pretty funny when paired with the ultraseriousness of Spawn’s origin. But what made this even more enjoyable to me was how much my wife reacted to his disgustingness. She has a very weak stomach for things like nasty food, farts, and especially the stained underwear scene, and the more uncomfortable she became, the funnier the scene became. That probably makes me a horrible person. For the Clown and the cape alone, I thought this movie was worth seeing. But for anyone else, it just doesn’t hold up that well anymore. I’m hoping to watch and review Chronicle before Tuesday’s post, but if not then Hancock will be up Tuesday instead of Thursday. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.


About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 500 superhero and comic book movies in the past seven years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on February 5, 2012, in 90's movies, Other Comics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Movie was definitely a pile of suck and wtf.

    One thing I did love, though, was the soundtrack. Like Judgement Night from a year or two previous, it was a pile of “Artist-with-Artist” collaborations across genre. In Spawn’s case, it was rock music with techno, and some of the resulting tracks were quite good. Don’t know how many actually got used in the MOVIE, since all you’d need was 2 seconds to justify its appearance on the soundtrack, but.

  2. I remember having that soundtrack in my collection at once stage. The Manson song was… “Long Hard Road Out of Hell” or something if I remember correctly, which I remember liking back in the day.

    I remember watching this on VHS (ahhh the good old days) when it first came out. I didn’t know the comic series so I wasn’t too impressed with the movie, but I remember going back to rewatch this after watching the animated series, which I thought wasn’t too bad.

    Anyways John Leguizamo was the clown? Seriously? Hmmm, tempted to rent this out on DVD now, I actually quite like Leguizamo as an actor.

  3. The movie was overwhelmingly brutal, dark and cynical.

  4. Reverend Moonshine

    There were two animated Spawn movies that were originally released as two seasons of an HBO series. I didn’t see them until they came out on VHS as movies. I think you might enjoy those movies a lot more than this one.

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