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The Real Reason That Sandman Was Never Made Into A Movie

Neil Gaiman has been a fixture in the publishing industry for decades. The prolific author has written comic books for both Marvel and DC, and has penned universally acclaimed novels, many of which have been adapted to the screen. From his mythological road-trip epic, "American Gods," to his collaborative send-up of Biblical mythology, "Good Omens," both of which were made into TV shows in recent years, few authors have captured our collective imaginations quite like Gaiman. Now, an adaptation of his celebrated comic book series, "Sandman," is coming to Netflix.

However, many fans have understandably wondered why it's taken so long for a proper adaptation of the comic to get made. As it turns out, Gaiman has been looking for the right way to bring "Sandman" off the gorgeously illustrated pages of the source material and onto the screen for over 30 years, but it's just never quite worked out (via Datebook). In fact, we've previously written about some of the many reasons why "The Sandman" movie never happened.

Luckily, Gaiman finally seems happy with the finished product, explaining on his Tumblr blog that he thinks the Netflix show is "an overall 8 or 9" out of 10. Notably, the author also added, "The best scripts for 'Sandman' movies would have been 6 or 7, the usual ones were 4 or 5, there were also a few 1s in there" (via neil-gaiman on Tumblr).

Now, in a recent interview, Neil Gaiman told a story that reveals the real reason "Sandman" was never made into a movie.

Warner Bros. wanted a main villain but Sandman doesn't have one

During a recent interview with the BBC, Neil Gaiman explained that Warner Bros. approached him over a decade ago to adapt "Sandman" into a movie. However, the studio ultimately turned the project down when the author mentioned that his iconic comic book series doesn't have an overarching antagonist.

According to the British writer, he was flown to Los Angeles for a meeting with executives at Warner Bros, where he was escorted to a conference room filled with prototypes of collectible figurines and other tie-in merchandise for the proposed "Sandman" film. Riding high on the twin successes of their "Lord of The Rings" and "Harry Potter" movies, the studio was seeking something with a similar structure: a grand narrative in which heroes struggle against a powerful villain. 

According to Gaiman, a studio executive said he had figured out what made those series so successful. The unnamed executive said, "It's that they have clearly defined bad guys. Does 'Sandman' have a clearly defined bad guy?" Gaiman recalls responding, "No, it doesn't. It's not that kind of story." Shortly thereafter, the executives decided not to move forward with the film.

Of course, across the "Sandman" saga, Dream interacts with a variety of evil creatures. Among these are Lucifer, the master of Hell, and various mythological gods. But while Dream's relationships may at times be adversarial, he is such a powerful being in his own right that the plot often trends away from direct conflict and into more philosophical territory.

"The Sandman" Season 1 hits Netflix on August 5.