Earlier this week, New Line announced that they found a new writer for “Sandman,” the DC/Vertigo comic book from acclaimed fantasy author Neil Gaiman. David Goyer (“Man Of Steel,” “Batman Begins”) wrote the treatment and then a search was held to find a writer who could translate the ambitious property into a would-be trilogy. Eric Heisserer, the screenwriter of “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Final Destination 5,” and “The Conjuring 2” won the gig. But apparently the hiring of the writer was the beginning of the end for star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who just dropped out of the project. The actor took to Facebook to announce he was leaving, saying creative differences emerged when New Line, a Warner Bros. subsidiary, took the project over.
“Recently, as you also might know if you like to follow these sorts of things, the sorta ‘ownership’ (for lack of a better term) of the Sandman material changed hands when Warner Brothers shifted the entire catalogue of Vertigo comics (an imprint of DC) to their subsidiary, New Line,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“And a few months ago, I came to realize that the folks at New Line and I just don't see eye to eye on what makes Sandman special, and what a film adaptation could/should be. So unfortunately, I decided to remove myself from the project. I wish nothing but the best for the team moving forward.”
“Sandman” was one of the first slate of films WB’s announced as part of their DC Comics Universe plan, which includes the upcoming “Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” “Wonder Woman,” and a “Justice League” team-up. It was always unclear where the Sandman character would fit in with this world, if at all — it's a mythology that doesn’t work comfortably within a superhero universe. But now that “Sandman” is over at New Line, it sounds like the project won’t be part of the DCU “Snyder-verse,” which is probably best for Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, protagonist of the Vertigo comic.
To that end, it’ll be interesting to see how Marvel incorporates “Doctor Strange” into the “Avengers” world, as this character is a little bit analogous to “Sandman”: he dwells in a mystical realm that feels incongruous with most modern superhero tropes. I guess we shall see, soon. "Sandman" was rumored originally for a Christmas 2016 release, but was never dated as part of WB's official DCEU line-up. Check out JGL's full FB post below.