Joseph Gordon-Levitt Could Be Morpheus In The SANDMAN Movie

As written by David Goyer.

This weekend I brought you some Vertigo comic-related news that was pretty official (and is being slowly confirmed by the likes of Seth Rogen). Now I'm bringing you some news that's super up in the air and should be treated as such. This is all about early meetings and initial overtures - basically it's the preludes and nocturnes in the next iteration of the making of the Sandman movie.

Trusted sources tell me that David Goyer has pitched Warner Bros a take on Sandman, Neil Gaiman's career-defining comic, and the studio has been very receptive. Geoff Johns, DC's Hollywood man, is very behind Goyer's version. And what's more, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is involved, almost certainly intending to play Morpheus, the lead character. Levitt's gonna deny this, just like he's denied a lot of other stuff that was true, by the way. 

Now, caveat number one: this is early stuff. The Preacher/AMC news came to me when that was pretty much a done deal, Sandman is still in the most vestigial of stages. I'm not even sure that anyone has spoken to Neil Gaiman about this yet. If anyone other than Goyer were pitching this I'd ignore it as news, but Goyer being WB's go-to comic book movie guy - and the support of Johns - elevates this to a different level. 

Caveat number two: I'm making the assumption that Levitt's involvement is as an actor. There's a small chance that the Don Jon helmer could be trying to make a leap to big budget stuff with this. That seems kinda unlikely, and I think Levitt as Morpheus remains the most probable reason for his involvement.

Sandman has a long and troubled development history, so there' s no guarantee this version will get any farther than previous ones. At one point Roger Avery was going to direct with a script by Pirates of the Caribbean guys Elliott and Rossio. After that a guy named William Farmer - who wrote Jonah Hex - turned in a script that Neil Gaiman called one of the worst ever written. For a hot minute it looked like Supernatural's Eric Kripke was going to bring Sandman to TV. And now this. 

I think TV is still the best course for Sandman. I just don't get the property as a movie, as the best Sandman stories are rarely the ones that feature Morpheus in the lead. For those who don't know: Morpheus is a member of the Endless, a family of anthropomorphically realized concepts. He's the embodiment of Dreams, and his siblings are Death and Delirium and Desire and Destruction and Despair and Destiny. Morpheus lives in the Dreaming, where he creates dreams for sleepers. He's also a big, tall, mopey goth guy who keeps getting his heart broken. The first storyline of Gaiman's comic deals with Morpheus being captured by an Aleister Crowley-like magician and his quest to reclaim his throne after escaping; it's the most straight-ahead story in the whole Sandman narrative, and it's also the least interesting. That's what most people have tried to adapt in the past and, at least in the hands of Farmer, it turned the brooding Morpheus into more of an action hero.

Could this version of Sandman go forward? A couple of years back Neil Gaiman said at a convention that he feels like it's finally time for his series to be adapted, and the depth of his world could offer Warner Bros a new franchise that straddles the line between Harry Potter and Batman. The studio really, really wants Joseph Gordon-Levitt to headline a franchise for them, and they've offered him just about half the Justice League at this point. If Levitt is interested in this - and Sandman feels exactly like the sort of heady, literate stuff that would appeal to Levitt - that could really light a fire under their asses. 

Remember, this is all super early stuff. It may never pan out. But it's interesting to see what's going on behind the scenes as one of the most beloved comic series ever keeps creeping towards the screen.