When we got our first look at The Sandman, Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s comic of the same name, I was encouraged by how unsettling Tom Sturridge looks as the main character, Dream. Well, now we have a full trailer, and while I still love the look of the show, uh, yeah, The Sandman is doomed. It looks a little TOO weird for mainstream success. Selling fantasy to the masses is all about finding the right angle to water down—or at least appear to water down—the nerdy elements that can turn non-nerds off (Game of Thrones did it with boobs and Peter Dinklage). But from this trailer, I’m not really getting a sense that The Sandman is watering ANYTHING down. Tom Sturridge still looks odd and unsettling, the world is dark and grim, but more, I don’t know how accessible this is if you don’t already know the story. Like, how are the uninitiated supposed to understand who any of these people are, or their relationships to one another? Confusion is not a good hook!
But also, this looks expensive as sh-t, and given their current troubles, Netflix will be scrutinizing their slate for places to save money. Unless The Sandman breaks big like Stranger Things (doubtful) or The Witcher (…maybe), I bet they cancel it after one season. Another complicating factor are the rights. Warner Brothers is, technically, the owner of The Sandman via Vertigo/DC Comics. Warner Brothers now has their own streaming service to mine their own IP vaults. The LAST thing they’re going to want to see is one of their comic book properties take off for a competitor. Even if The Sandman is utterly brilliant, there are so many business reasons stacked against its survival, I contain little hope that The Sandman will exist beyond one season. And if that is the case, here’s hoping it’s a helluva season. We’ve been waiting so long to see an adaptation of The Sandman, at least let us enjoy this for a minute before the stupid real world kills our joy once again.