Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is Attracted To The Atypical Grand Scale Of 'Sandman'

Why would Joseph Gordon-Levitt sign on to be involved with the Warner Bros. film based on Neil Gaiman's The Sandman? The obvious overarching answer is that WB has been wanting to put the actor/filmmaker in an even bigger role than he had in The Dark Knight Rises, and with Sandman he gets to be one of the people calling the shots.

But more specifically, why Sandman? It's a property with a large, dedicated and detail-obsessed fanbase. A Sandman film that gets things wrong will be received particularly poorly, and bringing the story to the screen in an effective manner is going to be a tricky proposition. That could be an appealing challenge. As he puts it, for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, part of the appeal is the fact that Sandman is a unique large-scale project that is out of the typical groove of tentpole films.

And while he's talking about the project, Gordon-Levitt explains that one of his Sandman tweets should perhaps not be construed as a harbinger of the first storyline to come.

JGL gave the following rundown to IGN when asked about taking on the challenge:

Well, I love just the basic concept of it – just the concept of personifying Dream, along with all of his brothers and sisters, the seven Endless personifying Death, personifying Destruction and Delirium and Destiny and Desire and Despair. I mean, that's just a fascinating and, I think, a really cinematic concept. You look at the art of Sandman, and it just looks spectacular. I love big, spectacular movies, but oftentimes big, spectacular movies sort of get stuck in a rut. They go down certain paths that end in big explosions or whatever. Sandman has so much opportunity to do something that's on a grand, grand scale, but really unlike your average big, grand-scale, spectacular movie. I guess that's the tip of the iceberg.

Slightly more interesting may be this line, which pushes back on the assumption that the first story arc in the Sandman series, Preludes and Nocturnes which tasks Dream with rebuilding his power base after spending years in captivity, may not be the starting point for the film. JGL's tweet confirming his involvement with the series included the hashtag "Prelude," which seemed to point to that story.

I honestly just wrote that as sort of a pun, because this tweet was a prelude to who knows what's to come. Obviously "Prelude" is the title of the first issue, but... Yeah, nothing is cemented yet. But there's so much potential in that material. It's exciting.

Not that we're really buying that Preludes and Nocturnes won't factor in somehow. While other early Sandman story arcs like The Doll's House and Season of Mists seem like they could make for pretty self-contained films, they also rely on stories and relationships that begin in stories that precede them. (Season of Mists hinges on a story that is typically printed as part of The Doll's House, which could easily be transplanted, but would prove a harsh introduction to Dream if used to open the first film.) At least some of that early material will have to end up in the film for any of it to make much sense.