Some movie roles are just meant to be. When actor Michael Jai White was announced to play the live action version of comic book character Spawn, longtime fans of the morally and emotionally conflicted anti-hero rejoiced. White was universally deemed the obvious choice. His portrayal did not disappoint.
Lt. Colonel Albert Francis ″Al″ Simmons was a decorated Marine who’d done heroic and dirty deeds. At the height of his service, Simmons saved the United States president from an assassination attempt.
At Simmons’ low he knowingly killed innocent people on a CIA black ops mission, but began to question the agency’s motives. His corrupt superior, Jason Wynn (played by Hollywood legend Martin Sheen), ordered his chief assassin to secretly terminate Simmons while infiltrating a bio-weapons facility in North Korea.
Simmons was condemned to Hell after death. Once there, desperately wanting to return to his fiancée, Wanda (played by Theresa Randle), and expose Wynn, he made a deal with the demon Malebogia, agreeing to become his eternal servant and lead an Armageddon-ready army in exchange for his return to the living.
Back to life, found himself reborn as Spawn. Worse yet, Wanda had married his best friend and given birth to a daughter. Wynn had grown into a powerful weapons dealer, and Simmons as Spawn found himself fighting to reclaim his soul while battling a clown-like fellow Hell spawn known as The Violator (John Leguizamo).
Spawn hit the silver screen in 1997. Directed by visual effects genius Mark Dippe with cinematography by Academy Award-winner Guillermo Navarro, they made Spawn a visual treat like its beautifully drawn source material.
Having brought Todd McFarlane’s iconic Image Comics’ character to life, the film also introduced Spawn to an urban audience hungry for a hero. Arriving one year before Wesley Snipes captivated audiences as Marvel’s Blade, White became the first African American actor to play a headlining superhero, and Spawn became a legend in urban culture.
—Mr. Joe Walker
Mr. Joe Walker is an urban and pop culture enthusiast. Known as “The Word Heavyweight Champion”, the biographer, author, entertainment and celebrity journalist, and columnist is currently a senior writer for SoulTrain.com, staff writer for Muskegon Tribune Newspaper, and writer of weekly classic hip-hop reviews for Concrete Magazine’s Concrete615.com. Also co-creator of TheGrooveSpot.com, Walker’s acclaimed, award-winning work has been published thousands of times regionally, nationally, internationally, and online. He is also working on a book project with Liquid Arts & Entertainment. Follow him on Twitter @mrjoewalker, connect with him on Facebook, and also visit his blog MrJoeWalker.blogspot.com.