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While Warner Bros is blazing ahead with the DC Cinematic Universe, progress on the Vertigo property Sandman has been moving significantly slower. The last major update we heard was that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was hashing out the film’s script with Sandman creator Neil Gaiman and comic book media veteran David Goyer. It may be a while until we hear more specific information on the project’s development, but there is one thing we can expect from the Sandman movie when it eventually comes out: the titular character not physically fighting his enemies.
Levitt told MTV that his "distinct vision" for Sandman man will be very different from other comic book and action films in terms of the action its audience will see. Discussing his vision for the film in comparison to the other blockbuster comic book adaptations that have been released over the last few years, Gordon-Levitt explained,
Big spectacular action movies are generally about crime fighters fighting crime and blowing shit 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 any punching.’ Because he never does. If you read the comics, Morpheus doesn’t punch anybody. That’s not what he does.
For those not familiar with the character, Morpheus, also known by his formal title Dream of the Endless, is one of the seven Endless - the personifications of abstract concepts in the universe - and their abilities are god-like. He doesn’t need to beat his enemies into submission with his hands or feet like most comic book protagonists do. In other words, any battle involving him or his other six siblings will be fought using powers beyond the reach of humans, and we won’t be seeing Morpheus beat criminals to a bloody pulp or getting his hands "dirty." If he is dealing with primitive crime, he’ll just play havoc with their minds in nightmares and other horrifying visions. Expect a much more surreal comic book adaptation compared to Marvel and DC’s usual offerings.
Gaiman’s Sandman (as opposed to the DC superhero that’s been around since the 1940s) was created in 1989, and starred in his own series that ran until 1996. Because of its 75+ issue length, Levitt admitted this is why it’s taken longer to put together the film – as there really is no open and shut nature to the story. This sounds like we won’t be getting a direct adaptation of one of the graphic novels, but instead an original Sandman plot that encompasses all of the character’s history. However, Gordon-Levitt is confident the end result will be a "grand spectacular action film" that won’t rely on the ordinary cliches in that genre.
We’ll keep you apprised on anything new on the Sandman front, but don’t go punching us if you don’t hear anything soon. That’s not what Morpheus would do.