These days we consider it rare when a comic book movie gets an R rating, but back in the day, it wasn’t that off-kilter.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, comics got gritty again, and movies like Blade showed their potential as R-rated action romps. Before Blade, we had another R-rated comic book flick called Spawn.
Spawn, played by Michael Jai White, is the epitome of 90s gritty characters.
He’s an assassin who died, went to hell, and made a deal with a demon to lead his army if he could go back to earth. He’s deformed and grotesque, and his super suit involves chains and a slick cape. Oh, and he murders a lot.
The film didn’t do great and is a testament to terrible 90s CGI. It didn’t change the nature of comic book movies, but it’s an all-out action flick. Not to mention, Spawn is not gun-averse.
Even with all his superpowers, Spawn still loves his guns. His past as a Marine, and master assassin, certainly gave him the skills to pay the bills with firearms.
And in the film, we see a very interesting use of Cobray M11/9s.
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The P90 At Home
In the film, Spawn worked for a high-tech, bleeding-edge organization known as A-6.
You can’t be that cool and run around with Glocks and AKs. Nah, the filmmakers apparently had seen the P90 in real life and wanted one.
I get it — the P90 looks futuristic and sleek. In 1997, this gun was only a few years old, so it was a bit troublesome finding P90s for the film.
The PS90 didn’t make its debut until 2005, so they couldn’t chop semi-auto variants. Second, the P90 was still such a new weapon I doubt many had a chance to make it around the Hollywood prop houses just yet.
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Also, what’s the chance that 5.7x28mm blanks existed at this point in wide circulation?
Getting a real P90, much less several P90s and the blanks to use them, seemed tough to do.
Harry Lu, the armorer on the film, decided he could mock up the P90s and take care of the problem — building shells around Cobray M11/9 machine pistols.
These Faux 90s, as they became known, entered the film in several scenes with Spawn and other A-6 personnel. These guns offered up that P90 look without the P90 problems.
9mm blanks were available widely, and the guns ran predictably very well. On occasion, the magazines protruding from the pistol grip can be seen, but overall the mockups were clean.
While the beat-up model we see online these days replicates a hard life of abuse, the actual movie guns look great.
The Other Cobray
Maybe Lu drew inspiration from working with the Cobrays to produce P90s, or maybe it’s a vice versa situation, but that wasn’t the only mocked-up Cobray in the film.
We also have a totally fictional firearm that uses the Cobray as its base. This little SMG uses a thumbhole grip but lacks a stock.
They installed barrel extensions with what looks like forward grip points. We get a futuristic-looking pistol-ish SMG-style weapon.
Spawn and bad guy Jessica Priest both dual-wield the guns and seemingly always fire without aiming.
I mean, it’s a comic book movie that has a dude that makes a deal with a demon. It’s not very realistic. Did I mention the demon clown? Cause that’s a thing too.
Anyway, the gun handling is what you expect from a late 90s film.
Spawn is all about the hip firing, dual wielding, and chaos that you expect from a comic book film. It’s not something you’d watch for tactical prowess.
That said, Spawn seems to use the faux optic on the Faus 90 in one scene, so good on him.
His being a demon spawn makes controlling and dual-wielding machine pistols believable, given his enhanced strength and hell powers.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only R-rated superhero film to make use of mocked-up Cobrays. In Blade, the titular character also uses a futuristic mocked-up Cobray M11/9.
Heck, I might need to do an entire article on mocked-up Cobrays eventually…
Can anyone in the comments point out any other famed Cobray mock-ups? Any commentary on the other weird weapons of Spawn? If so, hit us up below and let us know what you think. For more Guns of Pop Culture, check out last week’s look into “Extraction” & the BCM CQB 11.