‘The Spirit’

The Year of the Comic Book Movie comes to a close with 2008’s final entry: The Spirit, from writer/director Frank Miller.

In what is sure to be the most controversial film of the year, comic book revolutionary Frank Miller brings to the big screen a reimagining of comic book legend Will Eisner’s The Spirit, the most famous comic book character that the vast majority of comic book fans have probably never read.

We fully expect the discussion in the comments section will be… interesting. To say the least.

Are we excited for The Spirit? Of course we are! Normally we’d say look forward to a Special Edition Podcast on The Spirit this Sunday but with the holidays the show might get delayed a bit. We’ll let you know as soon as we know.

Are you excited? And most importantly, are you going to see it? Well, of course you are! So let’s talk about it!

If you haven’t seen the movie yet be forewarned — there be SPOILERS ahoy! So don’t scroll down any further if you are sensitive to that kind of thing.

And in the meantime, check out the trailer:



  1. I was so hyped for this movie until I saw the trailers. Halfway through I was thinking, "this might be an entertaining type of bad." By the end, however, I decided it wasn’t for me. Maybe I’ll give it a real chance after the DVD release.

  2. I’m meh on this. I’m gonna wait for the comments and filter that.

  3. I’m not SUPER excited about seeing this junk, but besides the new Tom Cruise Hitler movie, what else is there worth watching in the theaters right now?  Benjamin Button?  Come on.  Who would rather watch that junk?

  4. Merry Christmas to the iFanboys and everyone in the community!

  5. Sam Jackson looks horrible in the trailers.

    But we’ll see. 

  6. I was excited about this, but word of mouth hasn’t been great so far. I’ll give it a shot though.

  7. This is getting so bad reviews, at least from the sources I’ve been going to.

    I literally think this will be worse then Wanted (and maybe Punisher….still havent seen it yet). Someone said in a review that ‘stuff just happens, no clear reason on why but it just does’ and that this could be Jackson’s worse film to date. Oh and also, a lot of people I’ve read said ‘this should be the last film Frank Miller is allowed to write and direct.’

    Good times I’m sure for the podcast.

  8. I see Frank Millar, Sin City, … but where is the Spirit? Hope that there is some Eisner love in there somewhere. There must be, right?

  9. I thought it was pretty mediocre and not nearly as good as Sin City. The first half hour really drags and they made it way more campy than it needed to be.

  10. Meh!

  11. I predict a remake with Edward Norton…

  12. I couldn’t figure out if this movie was incredibly bad or amazingly good until about an hour after I left the theater.

    Turns out I loves it! Once I realized that they weren’t going to try and take it seriously, I was able to appreciate it for what it was: Bugs Bunny meets Dirty Harry meets Sin City. And it was good!

  13. That just means we got cheated out of a real Spirit film.

  14. I’ve decided to just relish in how bad this movie is going to be. But I’m still not paying to see it.

  15. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it would be any good or not, but overall, as weird as it was, I enjoyed it. It was fun to watch and it had some silly moments that reminded me both of Will Eisner’s and Darwyn Cooke’s Spirit. It was a little odd to see the character as some kind of suit-wearing version of Daredevil+Wolverine, but it worked well enough for the movie.

    My main complaints: 1) The mask was too fuckin’ big. It needed to be smaller and they should’ve just blacked out the area between his eyes and the mask, since he never takes it off anyway. 2) The whole "My City" thing was a *bit* too much.

    Regardless, I give it thumbs up and three stars. The DVD will probably be worth buying, too.


  16. Why did this fail? Why does Miller’s white-feet-running-on-a-black-background feel so striking as a static comic book image but feel so empty as a moving film image? Why don’t the media translate? Yes you can say “Film is film and comics are comics”, but why? I think this film could be a great case study- What is lost in translation and what does that loss say about each respective medium?


    This movie could be seen as the ultimate descendent of German Expressionism- the 20s film movement that produced such greats as Lang’s Metropolis and Murnau’s Nosferatu. Whereas other, ‘realist’ film movements like Italian Neorealism and American Cinema Verite sought to show how reality objectively IS, German Expressionism sought to show (under the influence of the recently dead Freud) how reality subjectively FEELS. Aesthetics was a means of psychological expression- When you feel scared the buildings loom larger with extreme angles. This movement led to Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Film Noir, Will Eisner, and Frank Miller.


    So now technology has theoretically given filmmakers the means to express this subjectivity as fully as possible. But I felt nothing.  It felt fake to me- in a way that the painted wood set’s from 1920’s The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari didn’t.  (sets like this: http://www.imdb.com/media/rm239507456/tt0010323 if you watch just one expressionist movie this should be it) Is it because it’s CGI? But why should that have such an effect? Is the light on the screen of Miller’s CGI Spirit any faker than the ink on the page of his pencil and ink Batman?

    There’s some interesting things going on here with our psychological processing of media.

  17. The problem is the camera just isn’t moving.  Frank Miller, the cartoonist, is one of the most wild, dynamic artists ever.  His compositions are great but his images are never, ever static.  Also, his figures are larger than life, with varying degrees of outrageous proportions to suggest weight and character.  Compare that to any of the images in "Sin City" or "The Spirit."  Actually, the storyboards for "The Spirit" are almost for a different movie, they’re so full of life and energy, but all the actual shots from the film are rigid and static.  That’s why you work in camera moves, use different lenses for different effects, and compose images that flow into one another.  As much as I really don’t like the movie, in "300" Zack Snyder came the closest to finding the happy medium between Miller’s graphic imagery and real cinematic storytelling.  But at the same time, I think we’ve moved past that this summer with "Dark Knight" and if the reception of "The Spirit" is any indication, I think this might be the death knell of this particular sub-genre of comic book movies.  

  18. Well thought out comments. I like it.

  19. That’s a really good point. John Byrne, on Around Comics, said that if a cinematographer shot a movie with the his angles the audience would throw up. It’s especially funny that Miller’s angles are straight-on considering that The Spirit was arguably the first great post-Citizen Kane comic. Also with the editing. I remember thinking that in the ‘Sin City’ movie the scene where Marv escaped from the cops moved much slower than it did in the comic. The panels where Marv kicks through the cop car window felt so fast and tactile. In the movie it felt kinda sluggish. Funny that the static medium feels faster than the mobile one.

    As to this being the death knell of these kind of comic movies- I don’t know. I’m guessing it’s gonna do just mediocre when you add up the dvd sales. 

    I also feel kinda bad about this because this was our guy getting his shot, y’know? The first comic-auteur-as-film-auteur experiment and it totally failed. Oh well. Still have his comics.

  20. Eh, Kaare Andrews is directing a horror film that looks pretty cool, Neil Gaiman’s made a fairly successful transition to screenwriter, and other creators are starting to be more hands-on with their properties.  There are too many talented people out there for this to be the last attempt and eventually I’m confident someone will be able to work comfortably within the confines of both mediums.

  21. what about geoff johns, why isn’t he writing the green Lantern movie? I mean I have nothing against Gruggenheim, but why not go straight to the source, especially when the man has a history in film. Its like Marvel going to Bendis and Millar for the Ironman, and going to Fraction for the sequel. Why isn’t DC taking advantage of one of the greatest writers of our generation?

  22. @greendart32 – DC doesn’t make movies.  Warner Brothers does.

  23. hmm im excited. going to see it tomorrow. ill let you know

  24. When I first heard that The Spirit was being made into a movie, and found out Miller was directing, it made total sense to me.  I had just got done reading the Eisner/Miller interview book from Dark Horse, and you really get a sense that they were friends, had a mentor, mentee relationship, and were always arguing about story, craft, and such.

    So, reading that, I got excited.  I really felt that Miller would have a reverence for Eisner and his trademark character.  They both have a love for New York, and the pulpy stuff. 

    The trailer hit, and I thought, "Eh…it looks good, but, it looks almost like a repeat of Sin City", which to Miller’s credit, Sin City is the only movie he knows how to make…his ‘vocabulary’ is limited, especially for a first time director.  I was still excited.

    Then more footage came out…with dialouge.  And my excitement fell.  HARD.  I’m a die hard Miller fan and this makes me really weep.  For the Spirit.  For Eisner’s memory.  And for Miller’s career.

    The thing I’m most pissed about is that Miller still contends to be honoring the character, and Eisner’s work, and all that.  And clearly, he seems to be making a tounge in cheek version of the Spirit.

    It looks beautiful, but, I think Miller lacked the experience to REALLY get across what he wanted.  Despite the seemingly ‘carte banche’ he got directing, I’m sure that the studio was constantly sticking his nose in.  It’s his first movie.  I have a hard time believing that they would just turn him loose.

    Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s exactly what they did.  Lionsgate let the movie go the way it was, so obviously they think they can dupe us, are confident in the product, or are just hoping to recoup some loss.

    Miller should direct something original for film.  I think with his imaginaion and design sense he doesn’t have to rely on his or other material.  Namely Buck Rogers.  I think he could do better, for himself, and THAT character.

     I’m done. (sorry for the length)

  25. Here are my thoughts on the "film":

    – There were few moments where I wasn’t rolling my eyes at the in-your-face "cool" style of the movie. I honestly thought the visual look of the film was inconsistent and ugly for a good portion of the beginning and had annoyingly obvious visual cues (like the sepukku portion of the Japanese backdrop scene). 

    – One of those moments where I actually felt engaged in the movie was the flashback scene with the young Denny Colt and Sand Serif on the steps. Say what you will about the acting here, the movie’s visuals slowed down enough to show a little bit of a warm heart. 

     – The guy who plays the Spirit looks the part. I can only assume that he didn’t have much to work with in terms of script or direction for the character. The only other part I thought was perfectly cast was Sarah Paulson as the doctor (can’t remember her name). Ironically she was also the hottest of all the women in the movie.

    – The scenes with Scarlett Johannsen, Paz Vega, and especially Eva Mendes, while meant to be the ultimate eyecandy and break the hotness meter, were SO forced that they just kinda landed there.

    – That happens a lot in this movie. Scenes that look like they were meant to convey some kind of emotion just sat there doing nothing. Not moving the story along, not giving you insight or making you sympathize with the characters at all.

    – This reminded me of Warren Beatty’s adaptation of Dick Tracy right down to the sexy assistant to the mad criminal. But, I liked Dick Tracy better because it felt more like a cohesive visual statement and a sincere tribute to the original. Frank Miller’s The Spirit, while it may not have been intentionally done, felt like someone just pissed all over the original.

    – OK, the crazed Nazi scene with the kitty-melting and Octopus getting squashed by the Eagle-swastika statue? Really? The dream sequence with him slipping out of the giant lips of the younger Sand Serif?

    – Two more things. Lorelei, the Angel of Death poping in and out throughout the movie was annoying to no end. And, the voiceover was horrible and lazy. There shouldn’t be that much brooding voiceover in any movie, period.

    Sorry for the long rant, but I just read Darwyn Cooke’s The Spirit Book One and if he could do an update of the character that is truly a sincere and loving tribute to the character and the legacy of Will Eisner, then surely Frank Miller with all the cache he’s obtained from Sin City and 300 should’ve been able to do the same on film.

  26. Go watch ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ over this peice of garbage.

    I’ll go over more detail with the film later but two quick things:

    A) Again watch the film I said above cause it will and should be up for ‘Best Picture’ at the Oscars. It totally deserves it cause it’s such a rich and provoking film.

    B) I thought when the trailers came for Spirit, the thought that immeditately came to mind is ‘this is gonna be worse then Wanted….it could be up for worst film of the year’. After watching this, good lord Wanted is now not even close as the worse comic film ever made now. Frank Miller, Lionsgate, and anyone else associated with this film should be ashamed of themselves. One critic said ‘this should prove to studios that Miller should never be allowed to direct or write a film ever again’ and I will agree with those sediments. Totally awful, waste of money.

    That is it would’ve been a waste of money if I didnt get a gift card to AMC this X-Mas….So ha-ha for Miller, no extra cash revenue for him.

  27. @TheNext Champion: Completely agree. Benjamin Button is a much better pick this weekend. The message is supremely uplifting and everytime i thought it might get close to parody Fincher brings it all back to the core principles. Just a lovely beautiful film I’ll be watching over and over again.

    Second, what irked me most about The Spirit was that it felt more like "The Frank Miller Movie". It has all of his current fetishes: impossibly beautiful women who are either dangerous gold-diggers(Sand Serif & Silken Floss), dangerous nuisances (Dr. Ellen Dolan), or inconsequential braindead eyecandy (Plaster of Paris), Sin City-like black&white extreme contrast scene compositions, and Nazi/Swastika imagery.

    I think part of the problem is Lionsgate. They also released Punisher-War Zone and both of these are just really misguided throughout. It’s almost as if Lionsgate was just happy to have their name attached to some popular comic book properties. Seriously though, somebody there should’ve stood up and said, NO!"

  28. I watched Frost/Nixon instead. Favorite movie of the year after TDK.

  29. It got a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes ><

  30. which if your keeping score, is a lower rating then the Punisher movie which had 22%

  31. @hawaiianpunch- great point about the women. Miller strikes me as someone who spends more time in his basement drawing women than he spends actually interacting with women.

    The Onion’s Nathan Rabin had a great line: "In comics, it took Miller decades to devolve into embarrasing self-parody.  In film, he’s made that leap over the course of a single disastrous film."

    And on the subject of really great movies this year: I’d throw out Werner Herzog’s Antartica documentary Encounters at the End of the World and Gus Van Zandt’s Paranoid Park.

  32. Oh, also Paz Vega was criminally under-used and Sex and Lucia is an awesome, awesome movie.

  33. Alright so the film only made 3.8 million dollars at the box office on Christmas Day.

    Now I know in today’s economy that could be an excuse for low numbers, plus the fact it was Christmas….But I think more often then not films that come out on X-Mas do fairly well. Or at least around Christmas films do fairly well. The box office ends this Saturday so unless it suddenly shoots up over to 10 million….This could get out of theaters within the month.

    Newsarama reported this and stated Punisher: War Zone got one million less on opening day and closed down about 2 1/2 weeks later. Hell I didnt even know Punisher isnt in theaters anymore but it’s true….So this does not bode well for Spirit and it’s longtivity. But it’s a good thing since most people wont see this pile of horse shit and waste 10 bucks on it. You know money does make the world go round; as long as The Spirit did well in the box office I’m sure no movie studio would care what the reviews were. But if Lionsgate isnt making a profit from this very expensive film (green screens dont come cheap) then Lionsgate will definitely make sure Miller will never work for them again….It’ll also show other studios how much of a plague Miller really has become in terms of writing.

    Maybe this will open Miller’s eyes and let him think he hasnt produced a quality story in comics or film for a good long time now….But then again if he’s fooled into thinking All Star Batman is a ‘parody’ when it was suppose to be a serious work, then he wont learn anything from this.

  34. Miller’s adaptation of "The Spirit" makes "Punisher: War Zone" look like "The Dark Knight". This movie is a colossal embarrassment for all involved including the audience (that means me) who should feel like complete fools once they realize what they paid to see. I’m not sure where to start as every single scene contains awful dialogue (years old stale faux tough guy Miller hard boiled sludge) with very little action, horrific attempts at "comedy" (at least I think he was trying to be funny) & well, I’m not sure what the point of it all was. It’s heavy when it should be light & light when it should be heavy. It’s like a bizarre fusing of "Sin City" & the ’60’s "Batman" TV series. There is one scene early in the movie that plays like a long lost (& very bad) Looney Tunes cartoon where The Spirit & The Octopus (Sam Jackson, please retire right now) do nothing but repeated hit each other over the head with larger & larger objects. The Nazi sequence will have your jaw on the floor at, oh, I can’t go on… "My city screams…" AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

  35. @John42 – I watched "Encounters at the End of the World" the other night. That is a stunning (& beautiful) film. Easily one of the best of 2008.

  36. Am I the only one who didn’t think it was that bad? It entertained me on a night where the only thing I wanted was to escape from the stress of my mother’s christmas party and hang out with some friends. It wasn’t Iron Man or The Dark Knight but it was really fun, at least from where I was sitting.

  37. First I’d like to say that I totally didn’t get the negativity towards Punisher: War Zone since Lexi Alexander I believe was trying to make a grindhouse movie out of the plot with bad acting, plot, over the top violence and stereotypes!!  Everybody missed the point with that film.

    Regarding The Spirit, from what I see above here, there’s a lot of people trying to make excuses why this is one of the worst comic book films ever made!!!


    @Doctor13 – No, Miller’s work on The Spirit made Robocop 3 look like the Shawshank Redemption! 🙂



  38. @aleks – Anyone trying to intentionally make a film that bad is trying to intentionally not have a career in Hollywood.

  39. If you need a good laugh, look up the article on "Punisher: War Zone" in "American Cinematography."  It details how they achieved the "Punisher" look, which apparently involved over $65,000 worth of gels.  That’s right: gels.  To give you some perspective, "El Mariachi," the classic independent feature film debut of Robert Rodriguez, was made for about $7,000.  To put it in another context, think about how many starving children you could vaccinate with $65,000.  Instead, they used that money to make the film look even more like shit than it already did.

  40. I’m kind of with Aleks. I think movies Punisher WZ have their place.

    Go ahead and show me you’re clever by making all the obvious jokes though. 😉

  41. Robert used starving children so he can do it for just 7000 USD…

  42. The movie wasn’t that bad. It was like someone in an earlier post mentioned, like a Looney Tunes, type of thing and once I realized that I was laughing at some of the czmpyness of it.  Too many people are looking for "Iron Man" or "Dark Knight", and anything short of that is crap.  This movie wasn’t trying to do that, and a lot of need to keep that in mind before you rip it to shreds.  I was entertained and didn’t feel cheated like in too many other films nowdays and that is all someone can ask for.

  43. @k5blazer – It’s like Conor said, "Anyone trying to intentionally make a film that bad is trying to intentionally not have a career in Hollywood." If this movie was madeto intentionally be campy and over-the-top withoutany regard for the source material and creator then the filmmaker is intentionally trying to burn any goodwill he might have gotten for good film versions of Sin City and 300.

    Josh said about Punisher – WarZone that if the tone stayed in that punch-a-face-through-the-wall out thereness then he would’ve been OK with it. The tone here was way off to begin with as well. But, for me it wasn’t just the campiness. It was the horrid filmmaking. I would’ve been OK with it if the only wrong was Sin City rehashed look of the looney tunes craziness of it was the tone throughout the whole film. My main problem is that Frank Miller is just a bad director who should not have made this his first movie. Scenes were barely strung together. The scenes with Octopus and Silken Floss felt more like SNL skits then any part of a real movie. Plaster of Paris never should’ve been there. Any signs of character development were quickly thrown to the wolves in favor of flashy effects and "cool" camera techniques. It honestly felt like an experimental film, like someone had figured out all the cool things he can do with a camera and did them all. Plus, Miller’s writing in the script felt like a comic book. For example, all the scenes of voiceovers where the Spirit looks somber and sullen, could work well as a series of comic book panels. But, as a series of scenes in a movie they drag the whole thing down. And, a better filmmaker could’ve gotten a lot more across with more dialogue and interaction between the characters. I hope that’s just a rookie mistake on his part and not just laziness.

    Also, not everything has to be "Dark Knight" or "Iron Man". But, we should all at least be looking for something better and not just accepting crap because they tell us it’s supposed to be crap. That’s like smacking into a wall and telling your friends you intended to do that. "The Incredible Hulk" is an example of good filmmaking that thoroughly entertains, and is, IMO, the happy medium between new classics DK and Iron Man and Punisher-WZ and The Spirit. It’s just a great, well-made film that is what it is.

  44. "Intentionally bad" is maybe a bad description.  The movie was intentionally campy though, supposedly.  That’s not to say I’m not saying it wasn’t a bad movie ("campy" is just something that should NEVER happen in comic book movies ever again) but Miller was intentionally making it wild and silly.  Why he decided to do this and inadvertedly crap all over such a childhood idol of his is beyond me and maybe anyone else, too especially when he was very clear beforehand he was going to maintain the core characteristics of the franchise as closely as possible.

  45. Saw it today.  Going in, I wasn’t really expecting to love it.  It was….. ok?  I don’t really know how I felt about it.  I didn’t hate it, but 2 out of the 4 including myself that i saw it with did.  1 liked it and me, I dunno really.  One thing is for sure, as the writer and director, Miller will get 100% of the credit or 100% of the blame on this one.  After seeing the early box office on this… i’d say he’ll be taking the blame on this.  It was… i want to say unique, but thats not true because Sin City came first and was honestly better.  He is obviously trying to duplicate the feel of that world and movie, but I’m not sure that was right for this character.  It definitely takes some time to get used to, and to see that most of the movie has its tongue firmly planted in it’s cheek.  I’d say to those expecting something awesome… I hope thats what you get, but don’t get your hopes up.  For those that hate, I think I can sum up my advice to them with a line from Scarlett Johanson late in the movie, "You’re taking this way too seriously."  If you sit back and go for the ride… you may just enjoy.  Me… I think I need to see it again, but that will probably have to wait for dvd.

  46. There was no way I was expecting ‘Dark Knight’ or ‘Iron Man’ quality here.

    But you know in today’s film market, the comic book genre has to be at least decent or watchable (like Blade or Daredevil). Whether it was intentional or not, Miller made this too campy and it was all over the place. I couldnt tell if Macht was a bad actor or just trying hard to get this horrid script to somehow work. The scene where Spirit and Octopus is hitting each other with larger objects (ala Looney Toons) made me almost leave the theater in disgust. Just because if Miller thought that was going to make me like the film, he was totally off base there.

    I’m gald someone else is pointing this out, but Miller really just took a dump all over Will Eisner’s grave here. Here’s a guy who was the nicest person in the world, and somehow became friends with Frank Miller….and how does Miller repay his friendship and show Eisner’s legacy? By making the worst possible film to dedicate Eisner’s legacy. I hope the only thing good to happen out of this film is for people to be curious to pick up Eisner’s work (whether Spirit related or his other works). Cause just reading ‘Dropsie Avenue’ brought more entertainment then watching ‘FRANK MILLER’S THE SPIRIT’.

  47. Couple more things. As a comic book fan, I expect every comic book adaptation to film or TV to be a gateway for new readers to discover the original creations. Every time a bad adaptation comes out I’m not that dissapointed because if someone liked it or got curious they might head towards the original and find something to like there. But, just like Wanted, this movie is nothing like the original. It’s a very, very loose adaptation that’s inches closer to the original than Wanted, but just inches. And what worries me is that people will either go to the store and seek out the original thinking it’s some whacked out crazy looney tunes comic strip and be dissapointed by what they see, or they will be too dissapointed by the movie itself to even go look for the source material.

    Second, dream casting for a reboot:

    George Clooney – Denny Colt/The Spirit

    JK Simmons – Commissioner Dolan

    Nadine Velasquez – Sand Saref

    Stephen Fry (voice of) – The Octopus

    Nix the other characters in the movie and keep Scarlett Johanssen as Silken Floss. Just give her more to do than show cleavage. The character was a frickin’ nuclear physicist for god’s sake.

    Clooney in Leatherheads has a scene on a motorbike in a blue leather jacket that makes him the spitting image of the Eisner Spirit. And he can do that 1930’s affected speech perfectly. He’s still got the looks and charm for miles to pull off both Denny and the more mysterious Spirit.

    Sand Saref was also just eyecandy with no real point in this movie. Nadine Velasquez could pull off the sex appeal and the humour much more naturally than Eva Mendes. Take out the Golden Fleece and give her a more substantial challenge. Otherwise she just looks like the lesser of two evil golddiggers.

    Oh and Sam Mendes, David Gordon Green, Richard Linklater or the Coens to write and direct. This films doesn’t need flashy new cinema techniques. It needs a classic take on an older Depression-era-like city. Long shots of the city and it’s people. Not green screens and closed stage sets.

  48. See, I hear "You’re taking this too seriously" and I feel it’s dangerously close to "It’s a comic book movie, you can’t expect much" which I immediately disagree with.  I think Conor was right during the Punisher podcast when he said after Iron Man, Hulk, and The Dark Knight which took these characters with an amount of care as well as varying amounts of seriousness, the last thing we need is a superhero movie that’s needlessly cheesy and camp.  It just breeds the stigma that superheroes and comics shouldn’t be considered serious material.  I know when I was ranting about how bad Wanted was, my roommate just went "Well, it’s from a comic book… can’t expect it to be serious, right?"  And now after this?  Yeesh…

    Now, Iron Man had a good amount of humor and fun mixed in with the seriousness and the story to where you could see it was quality work.  So did Hellboy II, I think.  If The Spirit, which admittantly has some humorous elements like James Bond-ish names and such, held the same humor level of Iron Man or Hellboy II while still maintaining some kind of dramatic story, it’d all be good.  Yet, it appears the story itself was either non-existant or incomprehensible and the tone was just all over.  So, the distaste is certainly warranted.

  49. It would be unfortunate if the success of Dark Knight and Iron bred clones. Comics contain diverse genre, styles, subject matter etc. I have not seen this, but I do hope the above reviewers are keeping this in mind and attempting to understand the work in it’s proper context.

  50. I think when we talk about "Dark Knight" and "Iron Man," we’re talking in terms of quality.  Those two films are very different from one another but both set a new standard of expectation from a comic book movie ("Dark Knight" from action filmmaking in general).  Not every comic book movie has to be dark, but there have been enough good and great ones for both comic fans and film fans to have less patience with films like "Punisher: War Zone" or "The Spirit."

  51. "The Spirit" (which wasn’t the Spirit at all, damn you, Miller) has done worse than War Zone. Ha. Even a failure of a Punisher film can out-do the vision of one Frank Miller (in terms of film, anyway. of course.).

  52. Miller hasn’t done anything good since "Martha Washington", and, yes, I’m including Sin City, which is cool, but emotionally dead.

  53. ‘Camp’ doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I like John Waters. I thought the 60s Batman TV show was really well done. This movie ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ with Clive Owen had insanely over-the-top action sequences that were really well done and really visceral.

    The Spirit was poorly done camp. Even if we accept the premise "Don’t take this too seriously" (which, like Tork, I have a lot of trouble with) and "it’s just supposed to be fun"– well, ok, it wasn’t fun. Failed there too.

  54. Yeah this wasnt a funny film at all, even if that was Miller’s intention in the first place.

    When they try to do comedy in here or just do wacky stunts or action scenes; they failed miserably. I still dont understand what was Miller’s real intention with this film was. Was he trying to make his own mark on a superhero barely anyone remembers? Or is he trying to give tribute to a man that has influenced his life?

    Both questions can be answered neither, cause he failed on both ends if those were his intentions.

  55. Yeah- I think there’s (at least) two discussions going on in this thread- How did he choose to do it? and How well was that choice executed? Miller’s genuine respect for Eisner is a whole other thing That I can’t really wrap my head around.

    The question ‘does camp have a place in superhero movies?’ is interesting. I also say no, but at the same time I don’t want them to take themselves too seriously. I want them to take themselves seriously, just not TOO seriously. I don’t want a humorless thing where the director seems desperate to sweep all the ridiculous stuff under the rug. That can feel desperate. 

    Camp is wrong for superheroes because it deals with the ridiculous by detaching itself in order to seem ‘above’ the material – as if the director was saying “See, I’m smarter than this material. Let’s all point and laugh.”

    But putting on a costume and fighting crime is inherently silly, especially when you take it out of the context of a shared universe where lots of people are doing it. So we can’t just deny it. On the other hand, we all came to the theater to see someone put on a costume and fight crime, so there must be something awesome about it too. And silly and serious don’t need to be mutually exclusive. What we need is something that acknowledges the silliness in a way that doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the life-and-death struggles going on around it. The Joker in the nurse’s outfit is a great example. It didn’t make him any less scary.


    The best thing I’ve seen on this is Grant Morrison’s ‘Seven Soldiers of Victory’ #0. A perfect essay on the awesomeness and the ridiculousness and the horror of being a superhero and how those states are intertwined. Also his JLA run where Connor Hawke Green Arrow has to use his dad’s boxing glove arrows. That heightened the tension of the situation. 


  56. Iron Man is probably the best example of humor for a comic book film.

    There’s just enough to really laugh at the situation; but on the other hand there are dramatic and action scenes that make it a standard comic book film.

  57. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Monday.

    1. "Marley & Me," $37 million.

    2. "Bedtime Stories," $28.1 million.

    3. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," $27 million.

    4. "Valkyrie," $21.5 million.

    5. "Yes Man," $16.5 million.

    6. "Seven Pounds," $13.4 million.

    7. "The Tale of Despereaux," $9.4 million.

    8. "The Day the Earth Stood Still," $7.9 million.

    9. "The Spirit," $6.5 million.

    10. "Doubt," $5.7 million.

  58. I think the biggest problem with this flick was all its promotion was geared at showing it to be this insane action movie. when really it was more of a comedy with bits of action.  The characters where all over the top to the point of comedy, honestly, i was laughing like crazy during the first fight scene.

  59. That’s a problem when a film starring a scientologist/nazi (who can tell the difference anyways?) did much better then your superhero film.

    Hell Miller got beaten out by a Dog, a lame Adam Sandler film, a great Brad Pitt film, again the nazi/scientologist film, a very terrible Jim Carrey film, a decent Will Smith drama, a CGI mouse film, and a very very very very bad remake of a classic.

    Well at least it beat out a morally questionable molesting preist film.

  60. @TNC – VALKYRIE is getting tons of good reviews.  It’s not surprising.

  61. I’m surprised anyone expected anything other than an over the top approach in this film. Just look at the trailers. They’re perfume ads. 

  62. Tom Cruise plays a darn convincing German, eh?

     Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 62% so it’s getting a good deal of negative reviews as well.  It’s the crisp direction of Bryan Singer vs. the wooden acting of Tom Cruise.  Will good triumph over evil?  Stay tuned!

  63. @conor: I’ve seen a ton of reviews saying Cruise almost ruins the entire film. Like he overacts or something, wont be seeing cause I have a rule of ‘no films with Scientologists or Tom Cruise in them’.

  64. (Pre)Judging just from the previews, I thought Valkyrie, Seven Pounds, Benjamain Button and Despereaux all looked better than the Spirit, so I am not surprised The Spirit rang in at #9.  Actually, looking at that list makes me realize I’d rather spend money on 7 of those top 9 before I see the Spirit.

  65. "Valkrie" is a solid thriller. All the pre-release bad press is sour grapes from the gossip mongers. I was surprised at how tense it gets as it leads up to the final act/attempted assassination. Great cast, too. If you like classic-style WWII adventure films you should give it a look.

  66. @JumpingJupiter – I knew the movie was going to be over-the-top from watching the trailers. I had low expectations going into it to begin with. But, after rereading some of the Will eisner stuff and the Darwyn Cooke version, it made me really question why anyone would make that decision to create such a throwaway film when there’s such fertile ground to be tilled here.

    Benjamin Button was good and I was looking forward to Valkyrie, not for Tom Cruise, but because I think Bryan Singer is a good director despite some overreaching sometimes.

    I am really surprised that with Button, Valkyrie, and Seven Pounds all out this weekend that Marley & Me got the number one spot. What’s wrong with that picture?

  67. Does anyone ever complain if a movie isn’t close enough to the Dean Koontz novel? Classics get reinvented all the time. It’s not just because it isn’t faithful to the original that it’s bad.

    Just saying…

  68. @JJ: Dead Koontz fans do, I’m sure.  I don’t agree with it either, but it does happen within every fanbase.

  69. The funny thing here is that I can TOTALLY understand why someone wouldn’t like this movie. It makes perfect sense to me. I wholly expect that most people will despise it.

    I have the exact same relationship with this movie as I have with All Star Batman. At first, I hated it. It seemed like a ridiculous, over-the-top mish-mash of homage and parody that just didn’t work. However, as I continued reading (a rarity, for me, to continue with a book I didn’t like after issue 1), much like Barry Allen my personal vibrations must have synced with this style of entertainment because I started to love it. Crave it, even. It was a super-exageration of everything that I love about comics, blown up to stadium size and embraced without apology. 

    About half and hour into the movie all I could do was groan and roll my eyes and shake my fists at what Miller had wrought! But then something amazing happened: I started having fun! My expectations hadn’t lowered at all, but they had shifted, maybe about three feet to the left. From this vantage point, I was able to appreciate the film for what it is… even though I’m not totally sure what the hell it was!

    I don’t mean to suggest that you’re wrong for hating the movie. It’s certainly the popular opinion. Just had to get my thoughts out there and maybe profess that there are some people who like this kind of flick, and not even in that "It’s so bad it’s good" kind of way that I love Catwoman. I actually thought this was awesome.

    Just had to hop on my cosmic treadmil to get there, I guess…

  70. I went in thinking I’d love this flick.  Thought it’d be fun.  Once I heard all the negative buzz, I figured that I would at least get a kick out of it in the "it’s so bad it’s good" kinda way.  During the first fight scene I decided this just wasn’t my movie.  Man… I just can’t find one redeeming thing about it.  "This one’s for MUFFIN!!!"  That is possibly one of the worst lines in movie history.  I’ve never disliked Sam Jackson before.  He actually made this movie worse for me.

  71. I totally understand this was not a good movie, the people i saw it with all agreed with me on this point and the fact that even it wasn’t good we all really enjoyed ourselves.  If anything i think that the movie was more fun to see in theaters than Benjamin Button, which was a great film but overly long to see in theaters, as it was nothing but mindless entertainment, which is all we expected.  I mean did anyone expect all that much from this, while Sin City was good watching it again its not of much higher quality than the Spirit, it was just new and different at the time, and 300 was pretty to look at, but otherwise boring. Sam Jackson was hilarious, and Gabriel Macht was serviceable, i think if people disassociated this version of the Spirit from what Cooke and Eisner did they would enjoy the film more.

  72. @Starr. I have almost no real experience with the Spirit and I still hated this movie.

  73. Throwing my at into the ring here.  The movie wasn’t horrible IMHO.  It sure wasn’t great either.  It was an experience.  This was a comic book movie done up like a comic book.  The Nazi stuff just made my jaw hit the floor.  I couldn’t believe how goofy this wound up being.  I laughed A LOT during this film at parts I probably wasn’t supposed to.

     It will probably make a good Rifftrax film. 

  74. This movie was so ridiculously bad that I actually had a great time watching it.

     "I’m gonna kill you all kinds of dead!" -Hilarious

     "I always thought it was pronounced Hercules!" -Cried a little

    When Samuel L. Jackson came out in a a Nazi uniform WITH A MONOCLE for no discernicble reason, I almost fell out of my seat!

     The problem with the movie was the inconsitent tone.  It had over the top ridiciulousness with all of the fights and the wacky costumes followed by lengthy slow scenes that were only put there to try to get you to emotionally connect with the characters.  If Frank Miller had just stuck with the ridiculous slapstick violence the entire movie then this would have been a great film.  

     All criticism aside, I’m probably going to buy the DVD just so my friends can get drunk and make fun of it.

     Also, if anyone knows where I can get a picture of Samuel L Jackson in the Nazi costume with the monocle, I would like to make it my desktop. 

  75. I cannot wait to see this.

  76. @TheFutureMadScientist – Thats it!  Its so bad it comes back around to being good ok.  I laughed my ass off most of and I’m not sure it was tryign to be funny.

  77. @tnc

    Your rule on no films with Scientologist in them must hurt your viewing.  


    Here are some notable Scientologist:

    Kirstie Alley, Nancy Cartwright, Beck, Erika Christenson, Jenna Elfman, Paul Haggis, Jason Lee, Juliette Lewis, Christopher and Danny Masterson, Michael Pena, Laura Prepon, Giovanni Ribisi, Ethan Suplee, John Travolta, and the wonderful Christopher Reeve.  

    Plus I know for a fact that Damon Wayans is one.  I’ve meet the man, and he told me.  (He also said that Will Smith is one as well, but due to what happen with Tom.  He won’t say anything for or against Scientology.) 

    I by no means follow the absurd cult, I have my own problems with religion and Scientology is just as crazy as some other ones.  

  78. Oh boy, strap yerselves in folks, religion’s coming into it!

  79. I pray to Joe Pesci.

  80. Everytime I hear that, I can hear Joe Pesci going "Pray to me?  Whadda ya mean by that?  Like I’m some fat, bloated Buddha sitting around here to amuse you?  You’re gonna rub my belly and I’m gonna placate your every whim, is THAT you’re saying?! …You pray to me… THAT’S IT!!!!!! *attacks person*"

     As you can see, I watched far too much of the Animaniacs as a kid…

  81. @ viewaskew117

     This is so off topic. Why are you talking about Scientologists?  And for the record, what evidence do you possess that Christopher Reeve was a Scientolgist?  Just curious…

  82. @Superyan: I suspect it’s because earlier in the discussion TheNextChampion said he wouldn’t see any movie (in this case, VALKYRIE) starring a scientologist.  Which probably severely limits his movie-going because a good portion of working Hollywood belongs.  But, yes, it’s off-topic and any discussion of the religion itself will be deleted.

  83. You know, I’m a huge fan of the Will Eisner comics, so I was disappointed with the look and tone of the movie from the get go.  I’m also disappointed by the negative reviews because this will most likely turn the general public off of the character and comics that Will Eisner made so special. 

    In reading someone’s comments about Dick Tracy, I totally thought that a modern take on that sort of film would have been perfect for The Spirit.  Hopefully, whoever agreed to Frank Miller’s vision is banging his/her head against the wall and will try to make it up to the world.  Somehow.

  84. @Neb   I don’t know, it seems like the bad reviews for this movie are of the "Miller screwed up a classic property" variety.  It’s definitely going to raise Spirit’s name-recognition, if nothing else, and I don’t think enough people will have seen the film to hold it against the original.

  85. @ Superyan.  I am sorry I meant to say that he was a former scientologists.  And he writes that he was in his book "Nothing is Impossible."

    @ Conor  I wasn’t trying to start up a religious debate.   I just wanted to know if TNC was serious in his comment.  Or was he just trying to be a "cute"?  That’s all. 

    I really don’t want to start a religious debate.  

  86. You can always get people interested by:

    "Did you like the movie The Spirit?"


    "Good. This comic has nothing to do with it" 

  87. @chlop That’s what I said about Wanted.


    @Neb I totally agree. That’s my greatest fear with any bad movie adaptation of a great comic character. But, chlop has a good solution. See above.

  88. @viewaskew: I was being cute, I didnt mean it too seriously. I know a good amout of people in the Hollywood biz goes to that religion….although the people you mention I dont watch their films or tv projects (well except for the Simpsons for Nancy Cartwright) but I wasnt being too serious.

    But my rule of not watching a film with Tom Cruise in the billing is totally true.

  89. Knowing that I have to see this is like knowing I have a dentist appointment.


  90. You must have a really bad dentist…

  91. Irrational fear of dentists.

  92. @josh: ‘Irrational fear of dentists’


    *throws away the films ‘The Dentist’ and ‘The Dentist 2: Brace Yourself’*

    There goes your Christmas present.

  93. Doctors that deal with someone’s mouth will usually find a way to hurt me is what I learned from experience, and that fact means I don’t need to worry if the punch is coming.

    Also never joke about the questions of an ear-throat-nose doctor since one might actually inspect your nose and you’ll feel like an ass afterwards.

    Also even if the doctor tells you a general doctor can pull out stitches, make an appointment with him/her to remove them. The guy that gave you medicine against coughs and colds isn’t someone you want to pull out stitches.

    Also even if you arrive before your appointment you will enter late,  and doctors aren’t trustworthy people – if someone calls all the experts in the building to look at an x-ray and they find nothing wrong, and he tells you you need insoles which areexpensive, you probably have a defeciency in vitamins (mainlyB12), and if he tells you it’s a skin disease and it’s nothing to worry about, it’s a lymphoma. If you’re at a hospital you’ll probably get a dose too big of something, and all medicines taste horrible excluding just one I can’t remember the name of but it’s white and sweet.

    There should be a leaflet for kids 🙂 

  94. There are, but they’re so freaking boring. Too much text, not enough vigi-games.

  95. Josh is an anti-dentite.

  96. Can we please get back to the point here?  Samuel L. Jackson was in a feaking Nazi uniform!!  With a monocle!!!  Like some horrible Third Reich version of the Monopoly guy!!  That was the greatest thing since that painted picture of Norman Osborn in Spider-Man 3.

  97. This movie was all style and I mean ALL style, it had no substance whatsoever. Which might be what Miller was after, but as far as doing it with such a character such as the Spirit was a bad move.


  98. Did I really watch the same movie that every other critic saw just a week earlier? The Spirit was solid, and somewhere between c+ and b-. It was enjoyable. I had fun. It certainly wasn’t without flaw, but it wasn’t voice of charm, either. I laughed a lot. It was meant to be laughed at with.

    Sometimes, I worry that the big joke is I have a horrible taste in what I love so much (movies, books, music, comics), but then I remember that it really shouldn’t matter what others think about what I think of movies. I enjoyed it and that’s really about it.

  99. Maybe if you’ll put "Yello – oh yeah" over the entire movie it will make more sense…

  100. @OttoBott – True that. I REALLY did not like the movie, but that’s me. I know some people who did and we get into arguments all the itme about it, but in the end it’s whatever.

    I do honestly hope that other filmmakers don’t take this as the new way to go, stylewise, though and take each property individually. Just a new year’s hope though.

  101. Once Watchmen will be released there will be a grim and gritty Iron Man.

  102. That movie was a disaster.

    Frank is great at setting a shot up, but he makes George Lucas look like an Actor’s Director. 


    I felt like I was watching an R Rated episode of the Adam West Batman show.