Your basic superhero action movie equation includes a lot of punches—like an average of 83 punches. The Sandman is not your basic superhero action movie, though. The comics are revered for, among many things, their cerebral plots and deep characters, as opposed to their explosion count. Luckily, writer-producer-and-all-around-awesome-dude Joseph Gordon-Levitt understands this.
In an interview with MTV News, JGL promised an “grand” adaptation worthy of the epic source material, which (un)suprisingly means no punching.
“Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing sh-t up. This has nothing to do with that. And it was actually one of those things Neil Gaiman said to me, he said ‘Don’t have any punching.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody.”
Somewhere in Hollywood, Michael Bay is ripping out what little hair he has left in confusion.
For the incredulous, JGL is absolutely correct: in the comics, the titular Sandman typically combats his enemies with intellect and cunning instead of physical force. And when push comes to shove, his bag of tricks includes powerful magic, including illusions and energy projection. Not to say that the film will lack violence; just don’t expect Morpheus to directly participate in any of it. It sounds like this approach will help the film differentiate itself from the 1000+ other superhero and comic book movies being made.
JGL added that his and co-producer David Goyer‘s script writing has been “slow but steady” due to the sheer scope of the story.
“It’s a really complicated adaptation because those comics, they’re brilliant. But they’re not written as a whole. It’s not like ‘Watchmen,’ which is a graphic novel that has a beginning, middle and end. ‘Sandman’ was written over the course of [seven years]. One at a time. One little 20-page issue at a time. And to try to take that and make it into something that’s a feature film—a movie that has a beginning, middle and end—is complicated.”
I’m still not sold on adapting “Sandman” as a film instead of a TV series, but JGL keeps impressing me with his knowledge, understanding and love for the comics, along with having Gaiman himself on board, is always reassuring. Now I just need Gordon-Levitt to say he’s either/both directing or/and starring in it, and I’ll officially be backing this project. (I’m telling you JGL, you’re going to want that Axon-push, otherwise this movie ain’t going nowhere.)
What do you gals and guys think? Is an action film without punches possible? Or should the filmmakers bring in Jean-Claude Van Damme already? More importantly, what would that movie look like …