Spawn (1997)

spawn poster 1997 movie
3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 3/10
Visuals: 6/10

Good visuals for the time

Visuals are dated and acting and story are bad

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Spawn

Studio:  Todd McFarland Entertainment

Genre(s):  Comic Book/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  August 1, 1997

MPAA Rating:  R


Spawn is out of Hell and coming for you!

Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is a highly trained special forces agent working for a secret operative led by Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen).  When Simmons is betrayed and killed by Wynn, Simmons finds is soul pulled to Hell.  Striking a deal with Malebolgia, Simmons returns to Earth as a spawn of the Devil but discovers five years have passed since his death.  Homeless and disfigured, Simmons finds his wife Wanda (Theresa Randle) has married his best friend Terry (D.B. Sweeney) and they are both raising his child Cyan (Sydni Beaudoin).  With a being simply called the Clown (John Leguizamo) guiding him, Spawn finds himself a pawn of Malebolgia to bring about the death of Wynn and threaten the world.


I’m not funny or gross…just irritating.

Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé, Spawn adapts the wildly popular comic book character created by Todd McFarland in 1992.  The film was the first major comic book film to feature an African American hero (though it was quickly followed by Steel).  The movie had a strong showing at the box office but was ravaged by critics.

Spawn never was a favorite character of mine.  I didn’t really get into the Image wave and like many of the Image Comics, Spawn was more about the visuals than the quality of the story.  Despite this, I was interested in the Spawn film because in 1997, there were few comic book films.  I was sorely disappointed and reminded why I wasn’t interested in Spawn.


Angela’s in the Marvel Universe now

The movie plot basically follows the comic with some minor changes (Simmons isn’t killed by Chapel probably would be the biggest).  The basic concepts surrounding Spawn (a man torn between working for Hell and Heaven) isn’t the worst idea, but it is executed horribly.  The weak plotting is also hindered by horribly and cliché dialogue and tons of jokes that miss their mark…mostly spouted by John Leguizamo.

Michael Jai White does as well as he can with the Spawn role but has no hope with the script.  He is overshadowed also by the arrival of the Clown/Violator played by John Leguizamo.  Leguizamo eats up his scenes, but it isn’t a good thing.  The Clown is irritating, unfunny and like Jim Carrey in The Mask…but at least in The Mask it made sense.  The problem with all the characters in the movie is that they feel like stock characters.  Martin Sheen, Theresa Randle, and D.B. Sweeney don’t do much to excel.  It is notable that it is the last role of Nicol Williams as Cogliostro and voice master Frank Weller provides the voice for Malebolgia.  The movie also features a small cameo by Angela played by Laura Stepp during the party scene.


This thing is funnier than the Clown who is supposed to be funny…FAIL

Spawn was touted as a visual movie, and for 1997, it was rather effects laden.  The movie has not held up.  The effects are pretty weak and goofy looking.  The movie did do a good job bringing McFarland’s style of art to life, but the movie needed more plot and script work to go with the visuals.

Spawn is just pretty bad.  It isn’t the worst movie you’ll see, but it isn’t very enjoyable.  Both Tim Burton and Alex Proyas were considered for the movie along with tons of other casting choices, but I don’t know that anything could have saved Spawn.  Despite the movie’s success, no sequel ever developed though sequels were planned.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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