Produced by Clint Goldman
Directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé
Screenplay by Alan B. McElroy
Genre: Science Fiction - Superhero (Image Comics)
Country of Production: United States
Released: August 1, 1997
Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is a Marine colonel who functions as a Black Ops operative. Jason Wynn (Martin Sheen), his superior at the covert agency he works for, sends him to North Korea to infiltrate a biochemical weapons plant. Unbeknownst to Simmons, Wynn sends Jessica Priest (Melinda Clarke), his top assassin, to kill him while he is there. After killing him, she sets him on fire, causing the plant to blow up real good.
Simmons arrives in Hell, where one of its minions, Malebolgia (Frank Welker), offers him a deal. If he agrees to become his servant and lead his army in the Battle of Armageddon, he will be able to return to Earth to see his fiancée, Wanda Blake (Theresa Randle) and their daughter, Cyan (Sydni Beaudoin).
When he returns, he finds that five years have passed. Wanda is now married to his best friend Terry Fitzgerald (D.B. Sweeney). He had been badly disfigured by the fire and explosion in North Korea, and he is still that way upon his return. He swears vengeance upon his killers.
He soon encounters The Violator (John Leguizamo), a demon from Hell who appears in the form of a clown (see what Stephen King unleashed upon the world when he created his character Pennywise?). He acts as Simmons' guide, sent to help him with his mission. He also meets Cogliostro (Nicol Williamson), a wise old man who had somehow managed to regain his soul, who is there to help him defeat The Violator.
Simmons finds out that Wynn and Jessica have developed a biological weapon capable of wiping out the world's population if it gets out. In a confrontation, he kills Jessica, but Wynn manages to escape.
Cogliostro and Simmons are consigned to Hell by The Violator, where they do battle with the demon. They manage to escape just before succumbing to the forces of evil. Back on Earth, Simmons, who is now known as Spawn, fights it out with The Violator and decapitates him, sending him back to Hell.
The movie ends with Wynn's arrest, as Fitzgerald had provided the police with evidence of his wrongdoing. Realizing that he and Wanda cannot be together, he dedicates himself to the pursuit of justice; thus, another superhero is born.
I must admit that I've become jaded of late with regard to superhero movies, especially ones that tell the origin of whomever. It's probably because we've been flooded with too many of them in recent years, as DC and Marvel have both milked their franchises for all that they are worth. However, Spawn proved to be a pleasant surprise. The reason it seems so refreshing is that it comes from outside both the DC and Marvel universes.
The action was great, and the story moved right along. The characters were well-developed, with the exception of The Violator. He might have a cool name, but I found him to be really annoying, with his clown bullshit. He reminds me of the early Star Trek: Next Generation episode where they introduced the Ferengi, and they came off as more silly than menacing.
Spawn contains two characters who are totally babeworthy. Wanda is quite a nice-looking lady; when we first see her, she has short hair. Five years later, she had grown it out. Either way, she looks quite lovely.
Melinda Clarke makes a really great villainess. She was deliciously evil in her role as Jessica, and is stunningly beautiful in her black leather top; if you're going to help destroy the world, you want to look your best while doing it. If Jessica had to die, at least she left a good-looking corpse.