Saturday, December 20, 2008

Why The Spirit will Suck...

I can't claim to be a huge comic-book aficionado, but there was one comic icon I particularly liked: The Spirit.

Drawn by the acclaimed comic book artist Will Eisner, The Spirit was more hard-boiled detective than superhero. He was just a regular guy who'd been left for dead when doused in a chemical concoction. Waking up hours later in the cemetery, he donned a domino mask and gloves and decided to fight crime under the anonymous identity of The Spirit.

The Spirit appealed to me because he was like the literary incarnations of James Bond and The Saint. He was a tough, clever guy, but he was just a regular guy.

He got beaten up, shot, stabbed, battered, broken and burnt in his quest to clean up the city - and we saw not just his injuries, but the aftermath as well.

Despite being a formidable fighter, brilliant detective and a bit of a charmer, The Spirit was the superhero any of us could imagine being... It made his offbeat comic adventures very easy to get immersed in.

So understanding my love of The Spirit, you can understand my disappointment when Frank Miller, the man behind Sin City, got his mitts on the franchise. Before you knew it, he'd produced this:

I don't know where to begin with this travesty.

Frank Miller, arguably a very talented comic-book writer in his own right, clearly doesn't get The Spirit at all. No longer is he the tough, charming but achingly human character he was in the comics. Suddenly he's jumping from rooftop to rooftop like a superhero, filled with superhuman strength and speed...

Frank - a word in your ear... Superhuman agility, speed and strength kind of make it easy to be a superhero. It also kind of reduces the element of suspense. The whole point of The Spirit was that he was a regular guy, not Batman in a business suit. I mean, I know you wrote the seminal Batman comic, The Dark Knight... But Christ, get over yourself, Frank Miller.

While we're at it... The cinematography? Why does The Spirit look like Sin City 2? The same style, the same sets... Practically the same trailer. I wouldn't mind so much, but you're already making Sin City 2. Couldn't you have just stuck with that and, I don't know, tried to do something different with The Spirit?

Here's a crazy suggestion - pick up the original comic books and use those for inspiration.

I could go on... The Spirit's femme fatales all seem like clones of the Sin City 'dames'... The villainous Octopus - traditionally portrayed in the comics by a single pair of white gloves - is suddenly Samuel L. Jackson dressed like a pimp... It's just.... It's just AWFUL!

I certainly won't be going to see it when it comes out. I'm just disappointed that people are going to see the onscreen action and think that they're watching The Spirit... It's just like the '97 movie version of the The Saint... A big, fat Hollywood joke with the punchline being a kick in the teeth for the fans of the original material.