Thursday, November 5, 2015

Superhero Media: Spawn (1997)

Well, I don't like Spawn to begin with, so you can imagine the trepidation with which I approached this film. I had also seen the film ages ago, so long ago, in fact, I believe I was watching it on VHS. The memories of that first viewing were not fond, but I place little stock in the opinions on art that I formed when I was a child, so I was willing to give it another go. Spawn tells the story of a special forces soldier who is betrayed by his CO and is killed; when he arrives in hell, he is made into the general of Satan's armies, only to refuse and rebel because he loves his wife and family. Wow, that is so '90s that I'm shocked the film didn't come with a holographic foil cover and shoulder pads bigger than its head. Oh, and the film is filled with crappy '90s CGI too! Check this shit out:

Aww, yeah! That's some crappy early CGI right there!

Hey, it's not like Spawn's powers pretty much have to be animated right? What with the flowing cape and scything chains. I feel like the choice to do CGI when the technology was still so basic was a cost-saving measure, as stop-motion would have been a much better choice to realise the look of the comic. Living in a cinematic world that Marvel Studios helped shape makes going back to 1990s superhero films a bit jarring. Spawn and many of its contemporaries were shot like action films, with no real appreciation for how comics worked, looked or "felt". Think about it, how many "good" superhero films were there in the 1990s? Batman Returns and The Phantom? But hey, we all went to see the silver bat-nipples anyway, because it was all that was on offer. Guardians of the Galaxy would never have been made in that climate, we're now spoiled for choice and quality, so of course these vintage flicks look poor in comparison. 
Is Spawn worth another look? Probably not. It's a relic of a time in comics that most choose to forget, though I have a soft-spot for (Doom 2099 bitches!). It has dated and was not that great to begin with, so looks like shlock now. I've heard that Todd McFarlane is looking write and produce another Spawn film or television series, news I fail to be excited about in a world with The Flash, Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Spawn belongs to the over-hyped, post-speculator boom 1990s, I have difficulty imagining him walking the same world as Invincible and not looking goofy by comparison.

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