It’s been 33 years since Wes Craven delivered the first film adaptation of Swamp Thing. Based on the DC comics hero of the same name, Craven’s Swamp Thing came two years before A Nightmare on Elm Street, so two years before he gained true notoriety. Swamp Thing was a competent film, solid in some aspects, lacking in others, mostly because of a limited budget. The end result of the ups and downs in Swamp Thing is a kitschy 80s semi-classic, brimming with energy but missing its full potential. And then, in 1989, Heather Locklear starred in Return of Swamp Thing, and the less that is said about that the better.
The time has come for a reboot of Swamp Thing. As crazy as that may seem, with so many remakes and reboots and re-imaginings and yada yada, here is a property in dire need of a new interpretation because so much meat has been left on the bone. As nostalgically entertaining as Wes Craven’s version of Swamp Thing may be, it is still a product of its era, trapped in the effects and budget constraints of 1982, and overall murky and in need of a jolt. A new budget would serve the character well, and not just for effects purposes, but to flesh out the human side of things. As, ahem, memorable as Adrianne Barbeau may be, her performance is most certainly lacking in the end.
What is so intriguing about the potential for a new Swamp Thing is the Alan Moore influence on the character. Not long after Craven’s film version, in the late 80s Moore began publishing The Saga Of The Swamp Thing for DC, enriching the character greatly and sending it through an appropriate gauntlet of emotions. Moore’s stories deconstructed the character, and rebuilt it with more of a focus on political and environmental issues that would be absolutely perfect for the character in the 21st century. Needless to say, Return of Swamp Thing didn’t bother with any sort of environmental concerns.
Swamp Thing could end up being a success for DC if they did everything right. Capture the dark tone of the character, the tortured soul, and keep the grit and the texture true. It could even DC’s response to Daredevil and turn into a series on Netflix. Either way, Swamp Thing has never realized its full potential outside the pages of Alan Moore’s volumes. Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice) recently joined Twitter and showed off several screenplays and concept drawings from dead projects, one of them being four pages of a Swamp Thing script. There’s a start. Of all the unnecessary remakes and reboots and on and on we go down a spiral of decreasing quality, here is a property that actually needs a fresh take. Let’s make it happen, DC.