Foxx had been rumored to play the titular antihero in the feature, which will hail from creator Todd McFarlane, but now it’s official.
Spawn follows Al Simmons, a black-ops agent who is betrayed and murdered, with his soul sent to hell for all the innocents he killed. While there, he makes a deal with a demon who allows him to return to the earthly plane and his wife. However, five years have now passed and his wife has moved on, while he is a disfigured and superpowered spawn of hell. Although he has returned to Earth, Simmons finds himself in the middle of a war between Heaven and Hell, with Hellspawn like himself hunted by angels for sport. Additionally, he has to deal with other threats including the Violator, another demon sent to Earth to cultivate evil and generate more soldiers for Hell’s army, who does so disguised as a human clown.
One of the launch titles for Image Comics, the 1992 first issue of Spawn sold 1.7 million copies. Originally written and drawn by Todd McFarlane (a number of writers and artists would later take over the title, including issues penned by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison), the series was one of the most popular and arguably definitive series of the 1990s. At the height of its popularity, it spawned (no pun intended) toy lines, video games and an animated series on HBO, in addition to a 1997 New Line movie that starred Michael Jai White.
McFarlane, one of the founding artists at Image Comics, wrote the first draft of the low-budget production, which he will direct. In a statement, Foxx recalled flying to Arizona to meet McFarlane several years ago to talk about the character.
“He was taken aback when I told him with the enthusiasm of a young child that more than anything I wanted to put my name in the hat to embody his beloved character SPAWN,” the actor said. “I told him no one would work harder than me if given the opportunity… well… the opportunity is here!! I’m humbled and ready to transform… and to top things off the young Jason Blum is lending his brilliance to the project! Time to be great!!!! #SPAWN”
McFarlane said that after that conversation, he kept Foxx in his head while writing the script.
“I will be directing my first full-length feature, and I fully understand the need to surround myself with as much skill, talent and passion as possible,” McFarlane said Tuesday in a statement. “To now have an Academy Award-winning actor like Jamie Foxx, along with the dedication of Blumhouse Productions, will not only make my directing job that much easier, but, more importantly, will bring a level of quality and star power that most first-time directors could only foolishly dream of.”
Producer Jason Blum said Blumhouse was happy to welcome Foxx to the production.
“He is an incredible actor and a huge fan of the Spawn Universe that Todd McFarlane created,” said Blum. “With the depth of talent Jamie can commit to the role and Todd at the helm bringing the world of Spawn to life, we could not be more excited for this film.”
Foxx has previously worked in the comic book realm, starring in 2014’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 as the villain Electro.
The actor, who is repped by CAA, LBI and Ziffren Britteham, will next been seen in Lionsgate’s Robin Hood.”