In 1997, just five years after he debuted in the Image Comics pages, Spawn made the jump to the big screen, with Michael Jai White starring as the demonic character and his original persona, Al Simmons. Alas, Spawn did not perform critically or commercially, and creator Todd McFarlane has spent more than a decade trying to get a reboot off the ground. As of 2017, the Spawn reboot has found its home at Blumhouse Productions, but White isn’t sure that the new project will actually come to life.
While recently speaking with Comic Book Resources, Michael Jai White, whose other major credits include Black Dynamite and Mortal Kombat: Legacy, was asked about how Todd McFarlane’s plans to depict Spawn on the big screen this time around. White answered thusly:
He's been trying to get a new movie up and going for 23 years so I don't know. [Laughs] The last time I saw him, he was telling me about his idea of Spawn being ethereal fog that you don't see, like Jaws, and he strikes and you never see him and I'm like 'Okay, good luck with that!' Personally, I wish him well, that would be a major investment.
For those confused about what Michael Jai White is talking about above, Todd McFarlane revealed that rather than Spawn being out in the open like in 1997, the reboot’s version of the character would be more of a shadowy presence. McFarlane added days later that rather than talk in the conventional sense, the new Spawn would communicate in a different way. Basically, this Spawn will be quite different than the one White played over 20 years ago.
Along with Jamie Foxx playing the new Spawn, the reboot will be helmed by Todd McFarlane himself, with this marking his directorial debut. McFarlane’s lack of experience in the filmmaking realm is another thing that concerns Michael Jai White about the upcoming Spawn movie. In his words:
I don't know Todd to be a director at all. It's kind of like Stan Lee: He created the character but he doesn't direct him and I guess somebody would have to pony up a lot of money for Todd McFarlane to direct for his first time directing this movie idea that he has. I've heard about Jamie Foxx starring in it and wish them well. I don't know, maybe it continues because this is what people like to hear from Todd McFarlane. He can get attention by promising another Spawn; I don't get it.
Michael Jai White made it abundantly in July 2018 that he’s not a fan of his Spawn movie, but given how the development of the reboot has gone, he’s not confident about that it’ll fare any better. In any case, that period of White’s career has long since passed, and in the years following Spawn’s release, he’s broadened his comic book media presence playing Gambol in The Dark Knight and Ben Turner, a.k.a. Bronze Tiger, in Arrow. As far as the reboot goes, it’ll also star Jeremy Renner as Detective Twitch Williams, with Twitch being paired with a different partner rather than his longtime cohort Sam Burke from the comics.