April 6-7, 2024
Written by Tom G. Wolf
Superhero films proved themselves a commercially viable force as far back as the 1970s, when the Christopher Reeve-led Superman proved superheroes could be classy, not just campy or cheap serial fare. But it wasn’t until the late ’90s that we really saw the beginnings of the genre as we understand it today; comics were hot property, studios saw there was money to made and so a ton of comics-based movies got greenlit.
One of those was 1997 cult hit Spawn, starring “Supa-Star” Michael Jai White. Given its 21st anniversary is just around the corner, it’s a great time to watch it again – or for the first time, if you’ve never seen it before. Here are five reasons why!
Experience just how ‘90s-tastic comics could be
Spawn the movie may deviate on several points from Spawn the comic but it does feel very much like a ’90s comic. It’s loud, over-the-top, colourful and laden with special effects. It’s also surprisingly edgy for a superhero film. Sure, Batman’s dark and gritty, but Spawn was literally a creature from hell!
Michael Jai White
Though there are a number of valid criticisms to be levelled at Spawn, none of them are to do with Michael Jai White, who starred as the titular anti-hero. He was actually the first African-American to portray a lead superhero role in a major film, an extremely significant milestone. An experienced martial artist and former teacher, he’s gone on to establish himself as an actor with an extraordinarily broad range. White has featured in films such as The Dark Knight and Black Dynamite, while also popping up on Arrow.
Few actors have Leguizamo’s comedic talent, yet few have the knack for being in so many terrible movies. He’s starred in plenty of critical darlings (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) yet also managed to be in Super Mario Bros and The Pest. Still, he’s one of the best things about Spawn – even buried under what seems like a literal ton of makeup, Leguizamo is never less than entertaining.
If you wanted to make yourself look edgy or “alternative” in the late ’90s, there were few easier ways than owning a copy of the Spawn soundtrack. Featuring hard rock/electronic mash-ups with the likes of Silverchair, Korn, The Prodigy, it’s thoroughly dated – but will no doubt awaken your inner teen angst and give you cause to jump around for a while.
There’s a reboot coming!
Once upon a time, there was actually meant to be a Spawn 2 – a direct sequel to this film. However, the whole thing got stuck in development hell for so long that a reboot was simply a better option. Spawn creator Todd McFarlane is scheduled to direct, working in conjunction with Blumhouse films. Allegedly, it’s meant to have more of a horror feel, with Spawn a shadowy figure within the film’s events, rather than the focal point of the plot. If it turns out anything like has been promised, it’ll be a different take not only on the character, but superheroes in general.
Michael Jai White will be appearing at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming Melbourne (21-22 April) and Gold Coast (28-29 April).