Joseph Gordon-Levitt, David S. Goyer and a guy named Gaiman are making a Sandman movie


Oi vey! My heart! Gotta sit down. The long, long LOOOOOOONG rumored Sandman movie is underway yet again, this time with Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to produce. Deadline had the details but JGL tweeted his involvement:

The little #prelude hashtag indicates this would adapt “Preludes and Nocturnes” the first Sandman volume, a rather straightforward (by the series’ standards) tale of Morpheus battling an evil modern occultist.

Goyer, a Hollywood/Comic book workhorse who co-plotted the Batman series and Man of Steel among may other things, has been working on a Sandman treatment for a while. Creator Neil Gaiman has also written a script, although where that fits in with the many stops and starts for this beloved story is anyone’s guess. Directors James Mangold and Eric Kripke has previously taken a crack at it, at one point Roger Avary was going to direct it, and once a writer named William Farmer turned in a version that Gaiman called “one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen.” (If you are able to decipher Moriarty/Drew McWeeny’s feverish As I Lay Dying account, more details of that version are here.)

The current deal will see Gordon-Levitt producing, and most probably starring and directing. Badass Digest had this story a few weeks ago, with more purported detail:

Trusted sources tell me that David Goyer has pitched Warner Bros a take on Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s career-defining comic, and the studio has been very receptive. Geoff Johns, DC’s Hollywood man, is very behind Goyer’s version. And what’s more, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is involved, almost certainly intending to play Morpheus, the lead character. Levitt’s gonna deny this, just like he’s denied a lot of other stuff that was true, by the way. 

Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon, which he directed and starred in, opened to good reviews and tepid box office earlier this year. To say taking on Sandman would be a giant step up would be the understatement of the year.

Gaiman has yet to comment, but he did retweet JGL’s tweets above, so that constitutes some approval.

Sandman and Watchmen are K2 and Annapurna of comics/movies adaptations, with years of development stops and starts as the howling gusts of fan expectations and studio misunderstandings blow potential teams right off the face of the mountains. Watchmen eventually got made with incredible scrutiny and mixed results. I think even in the four years since Zack Snyder’s Watchmen came out, fan/audiences/studios are a bit more relaxed about comic book movies, since one comes out every five minutes and they tend to make money WHEN PROPERLY MADE, as Marvel has shown. Gordon-Levitt is an immensely talented performer who would certainly bring a great physicality to the brooding Morpheus, and WB wants to get him locked down to something so…we’ll see. It all depends on the script. Just like always.

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