Anybody who was a fan of comics or superheroes in the 90s was definitely aware of Spawn. Beginning in 1992 with the publication of Spawn #1, the character was one of the biggest draws throughout the 90s and early 2000s, outselling many of Marvel and DC's superhero comics at the time.
The story focused on black-ops agent Lt. Col. Al Simmons being brutally murdered by his employers, only to return from Hell with superpowers beyond compare as the titular Hellspawn (or Spawn for short). It was so popular that it not only spawned (heh-heh) several spinoff series, but also an animated series on HBO and a feature-length movie! Even with how popular it was, we're pretty sure you might not know these 10 things about this hellish franchise.
It launched a company of comics creators who were pissed off at Marvel and DC
Spawn was one of the flagship titles of Image Comics, a company formed by a number of big names in comic books. This included writers Todd MacFarlane (who created Spawn), Jim Valentino, and Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, as well as artists Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, all of whom left their respective companies because of their policies on royalties.
One of Spawn's more permanent injuries was caused by Batman
Spawn often limits how much of his powers he uses so he can maintain some of his humanity. Because of this, when he took a Batarang to the face during a crossover event with Batman, he had stitches down his face for quite a few issues.
Spawn's merchandise line revolutionized superhero toys
Todd Macfarlane pitched the idea for a Spawn merchandise line to Mattel, who turned him down because of the comic's mature subject matter. In response, Macfarlane founded Macfarlane Toys, who geared their products more to adult collectors. It was so successful that other toy companies soon followed suit.
The HBO animated series was one of the first animated series on TV intended for adults
Running for three seasons and featuring some unique animation and stellar voice acting (Keith David of Gargoyles fame voiced Spawn himself), the show was geared towards an older audience when most networks still very much saw animation as being intended for children.
The 1997 live-action Spawn movie could have been VERY different
During the planning phase, Tim Burton was the first director contacted to make the film. When he declined, The Crow director Alex Proyas signed on, before leaving to make Dark City. Not only that, but other actors considered for the lead role (which went to Michael Jai White) included Wesley Snipes, and... Snoop Dogg. Seriously.
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One of the movie's biggest advertisers was... Taco Bell?!
Taco Bell ran a really weird promotion for the movie on TV, which very well might have been the first time a fast food chain directly advertised an R-rated movie.
Spawn's skin is burnt so readers wouldn't focus on his race
Todd Macfarlane was adamant about creating a black superhero, but was concerned that some readers would focus too much on this aspect of the character, hence why Spawn's skin is burnt to a crisp.
The comic was the subject of several lawsuits
A regular Spawn villain, Antonio "Tony Twist" Twistelli, was named after hockey player Tony Twist, who successfully sued Macfarlane for $15 Million for profiting off his likeness in 2004.
The bigger lawsuit, however, came from writer Neil Gaiman, who created the characters Cogliostro, Angela, and Medieval Spawn. Gaiman received royalties on these for a number of years, before Macfarlane stopped them and claimed sole ownership of the characters.
The lawsuit between the two would go on for nearly 20 years, with the court ultimately ruling in Gaiman's favor and giving him sole ownership of the character Angela. He then sold her to Marvel, who made her Thor's sister and had her join the Guardians of the Galaxy.
It's still being published to this day
Spawn is one of two series from Image's founding that's still being published, the other being Savage Dragon. It now has over 250 issues and counting!
It looks like it's coming back with another live-action movie!
In 2017, Todd Macfarlane announced that he would be directing a new live-action Spawn movie, with a script he wrote himself and published by Blumhouse Productions, the company behind horror franchises such as Paranormal Activity and The Purge. Time will tell if this new movie gets off the ground!