BSP 2014 Advent Calendar: Day 5

Welcome to Day 5 of Bam Smack Pow’s 2014 Advent Calendar!  Only twenty more days left until Christmas, and that means twenty more superhero films will be mined for trivia.  For Day 5, we give you …

Spawn (1997)

Didn’t I tell you that we were going to dig into some forgotten movies?  Spawn is one of those films that really tried hard to make its world as awesome as possible, but sadly, sometimes effort doesn’t count.  With its source material not matching its rating, the film was left between a rock and a hard place.  Spawn was meant to be a semi-muted violent epic, but its PG-13 rating still made its toned-down material too graphic, and critics complained.  On top of that, details from the original comic book that were changed for the film version were rejected by fans — with the most glaring one being that Terry Fitzgerald, Al Simmons’s best friend who’s African-American in the comics, was given a live-action incarnation as a Caucasian played by D.B. Sweeney.

Spawn was directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé, written by Alan B. McElroy, and starred Michael Jai White as Al Simmons / Spawn, John Leguizamo as Clown/Violator, Martin Sheen as Jason Wynn, Nicol Williamson as Cogliostro, Theresa Randle as Wanda Blake-Fitzgerald, D.B. Sweeney as Terry Fitzgerald, Melinda Clarke as Jessica Priest, Frank Welker as the Voice of Malebolgia, Sydni Beaudoin as Cyan Fitzgerald, Miko Hughes as Zack, and Michael Papajohn as Glen.


  • Coming off of his past successes for Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), Tim Burton was the first choice to direct Spawn.
  • Alex Proyas was also offered a chance to direct, but pulled out to work on Dark City (1998).
  • Wesley Snipes, Snoop Dogg, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. were all considered for the role of Al Simmons / Spawn.
  • Michael Jai White became the first African-American lead in a superhero film when he won the role of Al Simmons / Spawn.
  • Edward Norton was originally offered the role of Terry Fitzgerald, Al Simmons’s best friend, but had to drop out due to his commitment to Rounders (1998).
  • The late Richard Harris, who was the first actor to play Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was offered the role of Cogliostro, but dropped out.
  • Cogliostro, in the comics, had a beard, but actor Nicol Williamson refused to grow one or wear one.  This was also Williamson’s final role before he died.
  • In the scene where Clown / Violator eats a slice of rotting pizza from the garbage can, John Leguizamo actually consumes live maggots.
  • Clown / Violator makes references to Apocalypse Now, a film that Martin Sheen (who played Jason Wynn in Spawn) had starred in.  Clown / Violator, in one scene, tells Wynn that he expected him to start the “apocalypse, now.”  Clown / Violator also says, “I love the smell of burning asphalt in the morning.”, which is a direct reference to “I love the smell of burning napalm in the morning.”
  • When Clown goes through a list of names that he’s not (Vindicator, Victimizer, Vaporizer, Vibrator), this is a direct reference to the Phlebiac Brothers from the comic book: Violator, Vandalizer, Vaporizer, Vindicator, and Vacillator.
  • Most character names in Spawn have real life connections to its creator, Todd McFarlane: Al Simmons is the name of a past roommate; Terry Fitzgerald is the name of his friend; Cyan is the name of his daughter; and Wanda is the name of his wife.
  • In the comic book, a man named Chapel kills Al Simmons.  Due to Rob Liefeld owning the character of Chapel, the character was changed to Jessica Priest in the movie.  The name “Priest” was used to stay consistent with a Catholic Church theme.
  • When Jason Wynn is escorted out of the house by police, the two detectives are Sam Burke and Twitch Williams from the comics.
  • During a party scene, there’s a woman in a green dress with Spawn-emblem earrings.  In the comics, a woman named Angela wears those type of earrings.
  • The version of the Devil in Spawn is named Malebolgia.  This is a reference to Dante’s work, and “Malebolgia” refers to the Infernal Pits, the seventh circle of Hell where the damned are buried head-down in holes filled with insects.

Make sure to come back each day because we still have twenty more days worth of superhero film trivia for you!

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A special thanks to Eric Dufresne for his amazing geometric superhero art that’s being used as the background for the advent calendar.