by Will Henderson
The Venom movie opened to $80 million this weekend, and the character’s co-creator Todd McFarlane, sounded off on his long-tongued offspring’s success at his spotlight panel on Sunday. (Venom was co-created with writer David Michelinie.)
What pleased him most in the film is how big Venom actually is. That was one of his biggest complaints about Topher Grace’s Venom in Amazing Spider-Man 3, McFarlane said to an at-capacity audience of nearly 1,000; Venom just wasn’t as large and monstrous as he is in McFarlane’s mind.
Venom was an accident, explained McFarlane, who created him as a way to get Spider-Man out of his black suit. He just didn’t like the suit. Spider-Man should wear red and blue, not black, but with Jim Shooter (who led the charge for Spider-Man to adopt his new suit during Secret Wars) running Marvel, McFarlane was told that he’d never get permission to nix the suit.
But what if he gave the suit to a new character, he suggested, and came up with the idea of Venom. Only later did he learn that Michelinie intended for Eddie Brock to play a large role in the series, a fact, McFarlane said, that may have affected his character designs.
McFarlane signed on the dotted line to join the team behind Spider-Man, issue 300 came out, and a character that has had more lives (and maybe more hosts) than a cat has lives swelled in popularity until it, er, spawned its own film.
Venom isn’t the only film on McFarlane’s mind. He intends to revisit Spawn on the big screen (the character headlined a film in 1997) by hook or by crook, he said, admitting that the script is done, that he plans to direct and produce the film, and that he already has Jamie Foxx and Jeremy Renner on board to play Al Simmons and the police officer, Twitch, respectively.
Locking down Foxx was easier than you may think. McFarlane explained how Foxx had approached him years ago and asked to play the lead role, but McFarlane hadn’t written a screenplay. Years later, screenplay finally complete, he asked Foxx if he still wanted the role, to which Foxx said, according to McFarlane, “What took you so long?”
Hollywood executives, said McFarlane, told him not to bother looking for another A-list actor, but he did, finding in Marvel’s Hawkeye someone willing to come on board and play opposite Foxx – not to mention someone willing to overlook the fact that McFarlane has never seen an Avengers film and doesn’t intend to.
He spends all day in a comic book world, and the last thing he wants to do in his free time is escape back into that world, so no comic book films, thank you very much, except for Venom, which he saw at its black (not red) carpet premiere last week.
With Jamie Fox and Jeremy Renner on board, you’d think Hollywood would come calling, but you’d be wrong.
McFarlane said that Hollywood doesn’t know what to make if his “dark, superhero film,” and if he can’t team with a studio to make it, then he’ll kickstart the film and gets fans to help.
McFarlane also discussed the upcoming 300th and 301st issue of Spawn, which will make it the longest-running independent comic. Dave Sim’s Cerebus, with 300 issues, currently holds that record.
A bit more than 25 years is how long it takes for a monthly comic book to reach 300 issues, said McFarlane, and over the same period of time, his daughter, Cyan has gone from newborn sitting in the lap of her father as he signed early issues of Spawn to a doctor at Bellevue Hospital.
Cyan, in the audience during the panel, stood as McFarlane introduced her to the audience, and explained that very early in Spawn’s history (issue three, for those keeping track at home), he introduced Cyan, the daughter of Terry Fitzgerald and Wanda Blake. That character, though still in her mid-teens (isn’t comic book aging funny?) is set to headline her own book, Misery.
Near the end of the panel, McFarlane shared images of toys inspired by Game of Thrones, teased signing a Game of Thrones actor to pen a comic for Image Comics, and announced his company’s partnership with Fortnite, which includes the production of several toys from that popular line, the first of which were debuted on the NYCC show floor.
After, he offered posters for the upcoming film, Halloween, to the first 100 fans lucky enough to reach the stage, and then he held an impromptu signing outside the room, leading security at one point to ask him if he was OK.
“I’m good here,” McFarlane said, signing two copies of Spider-Man 1. “It’s OK. I’m good.”