Over the past several months, a lot has been said about Frank Miller’s The Spirit. In fact, it has been one of the most talked about movies of this coming winter season, but not necessarily in a good way. But as we get closer and closer to the Christmas Day release, as we continue to peel back the layers of this seemingly kitschy, awkwardly cartoony comic adaptation, we may just learn something about the mind of writer/director Frank Miller.
This past week, Wizard Universe caught up with Spirit star Gabriel Macht, the man behind the mask, to talk about the adaptation of one of the most classic and beloved comic franchises of all-time. And in talking about the production, Macht may have revealed something that could interest Spirit fans — a little insight into Frank Miller’s vision for the film:
Did Miller advise you to go and read some Eisner, or were you already a fan?
I actually didn’t know about the Spirit until the audition. I bought the “best of” Spirit collections. When I got to set, Frank said, “Listen, I don’t want you to look at those. I’m not crazy about the coloring.” He wasn’t a fan. He liked the black and white. So he gave me his best picks, and I read through all of those Spirit comics and put them up in my trailer. You couldn’t see any wall. It was all comics.
He also talked about the scrutiny that will undoubtedly come from fans:
Are you ready for the analysis that goes along with these kinds of films? There are already fans up in arms because your suit isn’t blue.
I’m fine with that. I think that it’s fine to change and adjust things. That’s what Eisner would have wanted. Look at Darwyn Cooke’s new Spirit comic. It’s different from what Eisner did 50 years ago. I think he would’ve trusted Frank with this material. Every day we’d say, “Would Will go for this? Would he buy this?” If we didn’t feel like he would, we wouldn’t go with it.
This seems to be a very consistent message from both Frank Miller and his cast — that they have always kept Will Eisner’s vision in their minds, wanting to keep with what Eisner might have thought was good for the franchise he created back in 1940. But despite this explanation, I get the feeling that they are just masking the fact that Frank Miller has taken Eisner’s vision and mixed with his own, spoiling it. Even then, it is less about whether or not Will Eisner would have approved of a black suit and red tie, and more about Frank Miller’s progression as a storyteller. And as Meredith at i09 points out, Frank Miller’s heart might have been in the right place, but the end result doesn’t seem to live up to the promise:
Your heart might have been in the right place, Miller, but you got in your own way. I wish he had done what he promised and made the film fun and comically sexy, not weird and awkward like some acid assault on the senses.
I couldn’t agree more.
What do you think about The Spirit based on what you’ve seen and heard so far?