Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comics are arguably the best of all time. That’s not a hyperbole either; if you look up any lists pertaining to the best comic books of all time, you’ll find sitting atop – or thereabouts – most of them. Its legacy is undeniable, which makes it understandable why movie studios would be eager to adapt it for the big screen.
But over the years, it’s proven to be quite the arduous task to translate to a film script. In the early 90’s, Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary was attached to direct, but that didn’t happen. Then, in 2013, Joseph Gordon Levitt was attached to helm it – but he stepped down in 2015 due to disagreements with the studio. It’s been an ongoing, tumultuous ordeal to say the least, and now the film has lost its screenwriter, Eric Heisserer.
In an interview with i09, he said, “I had many conversations with Neil [Gaiman] on this, and I did a lot of work on the feature and came to the conclusion that the best version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series, not as a feature film, not even as a trilogy.
“The structure of the feature film really doesn’t mesh with this. So I went back and said here’s the work that I’ve done. This isn’t where it should be. It needs to go to TV. So I talked myself out of a job!”
So it looks like we’ll be waiting a few more years for this project to take fruition. But let’s face it – the only way to adapt The Sandman is as a TV show. Its structure is far too complex to fit a movie narrative; high quality, cinematic television would be perfect.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt also left because of creative differences with the studio. In a Facebook post following his departure, he said, “I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don’t see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be.”
However, one Gaiman project we can look forward to is American Gods, which is set to premiere on Starz early next year.