Would Patton Oswalt be a good voice for a talking raven if you had ever considered? The Sandman on Netflix is here to answer your question. It's up to the viewer to see who answers in the affirmative or in the negative.
If we asked Patton Oswalt (he/him), we might get a voice actor who would make you care about a deceased person who is now a bird in the Dreaming who isn't sure what's going on, or whether or not any of this is a good idea.
If this sounds like he's overthinking it, please know (if you haven't already) that this development will take some time. In the same way as Dream of the Endless is tasked with spending years attempting to rebuild his realm, Gaiman has found himself some 30 years into a journey to translate The Sandman comics to the screen. Over those decades, that screen has been big and silver and small and serialized, but it's always been a bit elusive.
Netflix would be able to give the story a properly serialized home, with a huge budget, and a cast that is equally varied as the hero. And now, along with the chapters of the original comic, we can look back at the Sandman's attempted development, and the possibilities we might have seen if Sandman had been chosen sooner.
The 1990s: Working toward a Sandman movie
The first time Gaiman ever took a seat in a Sandman movie was in 1990. He was asked by Warner Bros. executives what he wanted to see out of the film. And I replied, No, please don't make a film. I'm just working on a comic. And bless everyone.
Roger Avary, a writer who co-wrote Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino and directed Silent Hill and Beowulf, was hired to direct the film in the mid-1990s; the story was intended to be partially animated, but Avary continued to work with Gaiman on Beowulf.
Sandman adaptations continued to languish around Hollywood until a few years later, with scripts and creative crew changes. Gaiman described at least one script as not only the worst Sandman script Ive ever seen, but quite easily the worst script Ive ever read (although others claim this was a later Warner Bros. proposal)
The 2000s: What is the Sandman?
Gaiman spoke at 2007's Comic-Con about how he wasnt compromising his vision just for the chance to see Sandman on the big screen.
Id rather see no Sandman film made than a dismal Sandman film. But I feel like the time for a Sandman movie is coming soon. We need someone who has the same fascination with the source material as Peter Jackson had with Lord of the Rings or Sam Raimi had with Spider-Man.
Gaiman went on to talk about Zack Snyder's current work on Watchmen, and he knows what he's doing, and I hope it's good. That same year, Gaiman would also be quoted as saying that Terry Gilliam would be his ideal choice for adapting Good Omens, but that (at the time) Gaiman was busy attempting to raise $70 million to adapt Good Omens.
Gaiman answered when one fan at Comic-Con said he'd make the film himself, saying, "It's what I'm getting." Im growing vats of people like you all over the world. Eventually we'll put a bunch of you in a room with knives, and whoever emerges alive will be the winner and can direct the Sandman film."
From Kripke and Mangold to Goyer and Netflix, here are the perspectives on the 2010s.
Warner Bros. and its deep pockets never gave up on a supernatural showrunner Eric Kripke in 2010 that never came to fruition (and Gaiman wasnt happy with it). Logan director James Mangold pitched a concept to HBO, but it never materialized.
In a 2013 Hollywood Reporter interview, Sandman continued to be praised by executives or at least one executive. When asked what DC titles she wanted to see on screen, then-DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said, Sandman is right on the top. I think it could be as rich as the Harry Potter universe.
And thus she enlisted the support of her comic book. In December 2013, there was movement, and true to his word, Gaiman enlisted the support of his comic book. They hired Jack Thorne (who created Shameless, Skins, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) to write the screenplay.
This version went fairly far: Once again, there was a script going around. Gaiman was in the room when they wrote the script. Warners is very pleased with the draft and are moving forward, knocking on wood. As with Gordon-Levitt as a producer, star, and director, Goyer anticipated the script to be distributed to actors in 2015.
The ownership of Vertigo was transferred from Warner Bros. to New Line (a subsidiary, not a separate entity) around this time. Ultimately, that change would result in JGL leaving the project. In March 2016, Gordon-Levitt wrote on his Facebook page that he and I just don't see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special and what a film adaptation might/should be.
I don't own SandMAN, but @DCComics does. I don't choose who writes the scripts, the producer, or the cast.
Goyer and Gaiman stayed with the project until the end. In the years that followed, they also lost screenwriter Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Shadow, and Bone), who told iO9 that he resigned from the film project because he believed the property should be available on TV:
I talked with Neil [Gaiman] about this, and I did a lot of research on the feature and came to the conclusion that the finest version of this property exists as an HBO series or limited series, not even as a trilogy. So I went back and said here's the work I've done. This isnt where it should be. It needs to be shown on television. So I talked myself out of a job!
Sandman as a TV program was eventually transferred to Netflix, although it was Netflix that made the big play, having just lost its agreement with Marvel. The streaming company signed what Hollywood Reporter described as a massive deal to buy Sandman, with sources at the time saying it was the most costly TV series DC Entertainment ever did.
Gaiman is openly optimistic about the project, thirty years after the Starz adaptation of American Gods. He said he'd be more involved with The Sandman than with the Amazon Prime Videos Good Omens series (which he adapted all of). He, Goyer, and Allan Heinberg will serve as executive producers.
Gaiman seems to believe that this will be the first Sandman TV (or film) adaptation to see the light of day. In a press roundtable, Gaiman said: "I'm hopeful that it will go beyond just a season."
People would write The Sandman film scripts and they go, but it's an R-rated film, and we can't have a $100 million R-rated film. So, that's not possible. And the fact that we have five issues of Sandman plus, basically, 13 full books worth of material, is a real plus. We've come to an agreement that long-form storytelling is a benefit rather than a disadvantage.