There have been attempts to bring Neil Gaiman's opus Sandman
to the screen - either big or small - for years. And thankfully, they've all failed. There has never been a time before now that the technology existed to conceivably create Morpheus and the world of Dream to life. And the story of the Sandman
is such a character driven, philosophical tale of self discovery, that any studio (inevitably Warner Bros) producing it would feel the need to water it down, or change it into something far more conventional.
So this morning's news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has signed on to co-produce (with a potential to direct or star, or both) the most recent attempt to adapt the highly regarded comic makes me of two minds. On one hand, I believe that Levitt is an earnest filmmaker, who has both principles and vision, and is enough of a critical and box office draw that the studio might give him some creative freedom with the project. On the other hand, the movie was pitched and will probably be written (and certainly produced) by David S. Goyer, a man I have no faith in as a fan of films, despite the fact that DC and Warner Bros. have apparently given him the keys to the kingdom.
I won't get too excited about this project happening until it actually happens. We've been down this road before. If Levitt were wise, he'd bring Gaiman into the fold in some capacity. Levitt has also hinted that the film (and we can reasonably say that it would be the first of an intended series of films) would adapt the first collected volume of Sandman
, Preludes and Nocturnes
, which sees Dream travel the physical and eatherial worlds, and into hell, searching for the icons that were stolen from him after he was imprisioned by obsessed zealots trying to capture his sister Death.
As movie plots go, that's a solid choice. It's worrying though, because Neil considered that his weakest Sandman
story, trying too hard to fold the character into the established world of superheroes. If the studio does go with this story, and if they are intent on trying to make a shared universe of DC properties, they'd be wise to bring Levitt together with Guillermo del Toro and whomever is developing that Constantine
TV series, as they would all nicely associate with each other (indeed, Constantine would be the connective thread through them all). If Sandman
were somehow first out of the gate, it would be an excellent way to introduce the mystical side of the DC universe. Which, as I said some time ago, should be DC's focus, because it's the one element the MCU
has actively avoided.
But they'd better hurry, because Kevin Feige's not going to sit on Doctor Strange