Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” is one of the greatest comic book stories ever told. Following Dream aka Morpheus – the godlike personification of dreams, and a member of a race of all-powerful beings known as The Endless – “Sandman” is a sprawling tale of morality and mythology that ran for 75 issues over 7 years and is nothing short of epic. So it should probably come as no surprise that a feature film adaptation of the DC Comics Vertigo comic is taking a bit of time to get everything right, despite having been announced all the way back in 2013 already.
All we know so far is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is currently set to direct and possibly star in/produce the movie, and he has been working with screenwriter Jack Thorne (This Is England) and DC Comics movies stalwart David Goyer (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel) on the screenplay. And they’re still working on it, as Gordon-Levitt explained to MTV in a recent update, stating that adapting the daunting material is no easy task.
“It’s really good, man. It’s slow but steady. 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 whatever — I forget exactly, six or 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 feeling really good about it, but it is a process, so please be patient.”
One of the reasons why they’re taking this long, is because they want to do this adaptation properly. That means adhering to the tone of Sandman which is a far cry from the type of comic book movies that proliferate the market today. In other words, nobody is getting punched.
“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 the things that Neil Gaiman said to me, he said ‘Don’t have him punch anybody.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does. It’s going to be like a grand spectacular action film, but that relies on none of those same old ordinary cliches. So, that’s why it’s taking a lot time to write, but it’s going to be really good.”
Sandman certainly has its fare share of action beats and big explosive moments, but like Gordon-Levitt mentions, Morpheus is always above mere fisticuffs. He’s a master manipulator and tactician and has a myriad of supernatural abilities at his beck and call, so he never really needs to get his hands dirty, so to speak, even though he’s still getting the job done.
Personally, I actually have no idea how Sandman‘s story can be condensed down into a single movie. This is the type of tale that would be much better suited to a big budget TV production as there is such a huge cast – just Morpheus’ Endless siblings alone would take up most of time to explain – and so many different story tangents, that squeezing them into a 3-hour running time and not doing them all a grievous injustice, is going to take some godlike filmmaking on its own.
Gaiman has been present throughout this pre-production process, offering his thoughts on drafts and even suggesting his pick of actors for roles (he wants either Benedict Cumberbatch or Tom Hiddleston to play Morpheus), so I’m still hoping that with his help they can crack this thing though. Even if that means waiting another couple years.
You can check out the full MTV interview in the video below.
Last Updated: June 10, 2015