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David S. Goyer, Neil Gaiman and… Joseph Gordon-Levitt are Working on a Sandman Movie

It is a gift!

Hat tip to Comics Alliance, who win the prize for most appropriate top image.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt announced last night that he is honored to be working with Warner Bros., David Goyer, and Neil Gaiman to bring The Sandman to life as film. There’s a lot to unpack here, so lets get started.

One of the first indications of this project’s existence we may have had was from Diane Nelson herself, shortly before San Diego Comic Con this year, when she mentioned that The Sandman was a top priority to get a movie adaptation. This was in the same interview where she called Wonder Woman “tricky,” which, at the time, I had a lot to say about and still do, so I’ll just link instead of repeating myself. JGL hashtagged his announcing tweet #Prelude, a reference, as Gordon-Levitt appears to have acknowledged, to Preludes and Nocturnes, the title of the first story arc of The Sandman. Despite, or perhaps because of, Badass Digest rumors from “trusted sources” that Gordon-Levitt is in talks to star as the mercurial Dream Lord, JGL issued a second tweet to say that right now he was signed on as a producer, and “the rest remains to be seen.” Neil Gaiman, creator of The Sandman, has not so far commented on the project, but he has retweeted Gordon-Levitt’s tweets, forming an acknowledgement.

It’s a very exciting announcement, all in all. Neil Gaiman is very open about how he’s reached a point of stable revenue in his career that he can afford to have high standards for adaptations of his work, and refuse to allow adaptations to be made if they don’t measure up. Specifically, he’s mentioned turning down studios who wanted to option his Anansi Boys, but only if they could make the majority Black cast majority White. I have my misgivings about the suitability of The Sandman for adaptation into the feature film format. I think the series’ ability, due to the serial nature of comics publishing, to switch from extended story arc to seeming non-sequitur issue to extended flash back and to flit from historical era to historical era at will will be difficult to capture in a fan-pleasing way without a team that was really committed to the source material. But with Gaiman on board, and possibly (presumably?) working on a script, it seams that team has been found.

Edit: Gaiman has since commented on the movie in a way that erodes some of the foundational assumptions I made in the preceding paragraph.

I don’t get to allow or not allow Sandman adaptations. When I was 26, and I signed the Sandman contract, it was as work for hire. DC Comics (now DC Entertainment, part of Warner Bros) own all of Sandman, including movie and TV rights, and always has done.

Like you, I’ve seen the tweet from Joseph that says he’s a producer on a SANDMAN movie. He’s a fine actor and a smart director, and a really nice man. Like you, I’m interested in seeing what happens next.

Still, Gordon-Levitt’s tweet says he’ll be working with Gaiman, and the more he is eventually involved, the happier I’ll be about it.

All in all, I only have one reservation about this project. And that’s the ongoing rumors that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will star as Dream of the Endless. Lets address two points here.

1. I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I love what he’s doing with his overall personal presence in the media, etc., I love that when asked about working with Scarlett Johansson he crafts an answer on the spot that is all about her talent and never mentions her physical appearance. I love watching him in movies, from 10 Things I Hate About You to Inception to The Dark Knight Returns. He’s a “well I guess I should go see that now” actor for me, and, I stress, this is only partly because I can get lost looking at his stupid impossibly handsome and goofy face for minutes at a time.

2. I could take or leave Benedict Cumberbatch. I don’t hate the guy, Smaug was great, I feel like he was coerced into playing Khan under false (or at least lie-of-omission) pretenses, but I’m getting a little tired of Sherlock.

I don’t want to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Dream. I want to see Benedict Cumberbatch as Dream.

I’m not saying that Dream is the same character as Sherlock. I’m just saying that he’s inhuman, superior, inscrutable, eloquent, quick to anger, utterly convinced of his own rightness, and has a notable mind-game-playing sibling, an otherworldly voice, and his only friend real friend is a quintessentially British man.

There are lots, and lots of roles in The Sandman that Joseph Gordon-Levitt could sink his teeth into: Cain, Orpheus, the Corinthian (although lets face it that role belongs to Gary Oldman) Cluracan, Daniel, Alex Burgess, Doctor Destiny, or John Constantine. Maybe it’s just me, and of course I’ll watch it either way, but I hope he takes one of those.

(via The Beat.)

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