For The Sandman, patience is about to be rewarded. Netflix’s incoming TV adaptation sees the personification of Dream – AKA Morpheus (Tom Sturridge) – waiting a century to regain his kingdom after he’s captured by overreaching occultists. Offscreen, writer Neil Gaiman (Good Omens, American Gods) has waited 30-plus years for his revered comic-book epic to reach screens, holding tight to his patient faith in one absolute.
“I didn’t have faith that we’d always get here,” Gaiman tells Total Film in the new issue, featuring Thor: Love and Thunder on the cover, “but I had faith that the important thing was to stop bad versions being made. Once a bad version is made, you never quite come back from that. It may sound silly, but when I was 14 or 15, my favorite comic was Howard The Duck. Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Frank Brunner, satire, madness, glory... I was so excited when I heard George Lucas was making a movie. And then A New Breed Of Hero [the 1986 movie’s alt-title] came out. Howard The Duck became a bad joke. I never wanted that to happen to Sandman and I saw scripts that would have made that happen.”
If any comic-book title needs tender care on its journey to screen, The Sandman does. Launched in 1988, Gaiman’s series revived an old DC character, radically re-authored him and, indeed, radically re-authored comics conventions. Morpheus is lord of the Dreaming, reimagined by Gaiman as a tall, thin, starry-eyed figure who loses his kingdom and sets about regaining it, to epic effect. A superlative dark horror-fantasy initially ensues, before increasingly ambitious developments. Check out an exclusive image from the series above.
"I can’t promise this is the Sandman of your dreams," says Gaiman, "but I can promise I’m proud of what we’ve done. I can say that Stephen Fry as Gilbert is waiting for you, Boyd Holbrook as the Corinthian, the serial-killers’ convention... We also get to punch above our weight on casting, because there are people who love Sandman and desperately want to be in it. Everybody is on Sandman because they love it. And it’s magic."
The Sandman launches August 5 on Netflix. For much more on the series, check out the new issue of Total Film when it hits shelves (and digital newsstands) this Thursday, June 23.
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