Sandman. It’s one of the few comic book series that ever reached the level of being considered actual literature. Over the course of 75 issues, Neil Gaiman constructed one of the most beautiful, heartfelt and fantastic stories ever put to print. On the surface, the story of Morpheus, the king of dreams seems like the stuff of fantasy fluff, but what readers got was a powerful story about change, the role of mythology in every day life and the eternal search for personal connections we all go through.
Now, Joel Schumacher wants to make it into a movie.
There’s been talk of a Sandman movie for years, but nothing has ever come of it. There were even rumors that Gaiman has been working on a screenplay for a while. However, most that have read the series in its entirety would agree that condensing such a rich, fully realized work into 2-hour motion picture would not only dilute the impact of the series but would come out as something completely removed from what it was intended to be.
But, as I’ve said before, make what movie you want, you can’t change the source material.
All that said I have to wonder what makes Joel Schumacher think he’s the man for the job, let alone any studio executive. Not only were fans of Batman extremely turned off by his Dark Knight outings, but he’s considered by everyone as the man who single handedly killed one of the most lucrative film franchises to date.
Here’s the thing; Schumacher fumbled Batman. While the character may be the one of the coolest super hero out there, there’s really no way you can go wrong with him as long as you stick to a few basics. He’s driven. He’s focused. He’s street level. He’s psychologically conflicted. When he’s in the Batsuit, Bruce Wayne is gone. In fact, Bruce Wayne may just be an act all together. All you have to do to make a decent Batman movie is remember those things. However, Schumacher so misunderstood the character, a pop culture icon, that he presented something on screen that only shared a name with the source. Nothing about his films was Batman beyond the pointy ears.
I don’t want to be that fanboy, but here it comes. Schumacher on Sandman is beyond a mistake. He has already had two comic-based movies, and both times he displayed a basic misconception about the character as well as what comic books were. He was quoted as saying he wanted his Batman to reflect the comic books. Well, what comic books was he reading? Not since the 1950’s and early 60’s has Batman been as goofy as what he portrayed. His sets reflected nothing from any Batman comic and I have to wonder if he even bothered to get someone to explain what Gotham City actually was like to him.
The Sandman deserves better than Joel Schumacher. Period. If anyone has the chops to pull of something as stylized as Sandman I would nominate Guillermo del Toro, director of Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, Peter Jackson, or Sam Raimi. You need someone who understands how to meld the subtleties of comic art and story telling with film mechanics.
I don’t mean to have a “Joel Shumacher sucks fest” because the man has more than proven to be a talented director over the years. Hell, Lost Boys is still one of my favorite horror movies of all time. However, especially when it comes to Sandman, you don’t need a guy who thinks comics are still BIFF! BOOM! POW!