Comic-Con 08: Frank Miller's The Spirit Panel Recap
by Roman Chavez
July 28, 2008
Anticipation was only at about medium last week during Lionsgate's panel for The Spirit at the San Diego Comic-Con. Most people really didn't know what to expect. As for me, I found myself unimpressed with the first teaser trailer from a few months back and really needed some reassurance on it, especially from the film's writer and director Frank Miller. While Alex already live blogged the entire panel as it took place on Friday, I thought I'd recap all that took place and give my own opinion on Frank Miller's solo directorial debut. Although I wasn't exactly excited before I arrived at Comic-Con, Frank Miller's presentation has instilled just a bit more confidence in me. I truly hope it delivers!
The legendary Frank Miller took the stage first, looking like a 'gangsta' with his fedora-like hat. He started off by reminiscing about his long-time friendship with Spirit creator and comic legend Will Eisner, who passed away in 2005, with great honor and sincerity. While looking back, Frank joked that he had argued with Eisner for 25 years about how comics were made and the direction the industry would go. So when the idea for The Spirit came across his lap, he almost turned it down, "for about three seconds," but thought about how bad it would be if someone else ended up making it. Luckily, the company that owned the rights was pretty adamant about Miller's involvement and were happy to give him his solo directorial debut.
Producer Deborah Del Prete explained that she had always wanted to do a comic book movie and jumped at the opportunity to work on The Spirit. With all these forces in motion, Miller was not as worried about finding an actor to play the Spirit (it ended up being Gabriel Macht) as he was about finding someone who could play his nemesis, the Octopus. He thought "we need someone who can scare the hell out of everybody." Who better than that badass mutha fucka Samuel L. Jackson?
Jackson came off as really cool and nonchalant, but also looked quite happy to be there (this wasn't his first time at Comic-Con). I've seen clips of him in the past and he always turns out to be a big treat for the audience. For those who don't know, the Octopus was always a faceless character in the story. All they ever showed was his ominous gloves with little tentacle looking lines on them. Miller had to figure out "how to put flesh and bone and voice to the Octopus." Jackson asked what he should wear in the film and Miller really gave him a sense off freedom with it. At one point in the footage, we saw Jackson is dressed like a Nazi, amongst other wacky outfits. He went on to comment about how much fun it was to make the film and how great it was to work with Frank. "Frank is extremely open as a director… very egoless."
As for weaponry, you might've noticed a quick flash of some huge ass guns in the latest trailer. Jackson explained that almost every day while shooting, he would ask for bigger guns. "It got to the point where I was just sticking guns together," says Miller. Apparently the finished gun product was so big they had to rig up a pulley system to hold the guns in the air since Jackson couldn't hold onto them on his own. Miller even jokingly said he "looked like a Transformer robot" because he had so man big frickin' guns strapped to him.
As I said initially, I didn't care for the teaser when I first saw it, mostly because it looked like it could have been Sin City 2 and not something reminiscent of Will Eisner's work. However, seeing the footage that Miller showed us at Comic-Con gave me a better feel for the film. It is not going to be all black and white with some red mixed in. It does have a Sin City look in the direction, but with more color. They did show a scene that was shot with a "phantom camera" to simulate a person swimming underwater without actually being underwater, which did not come off well at all, but other than that it looked kind of fun. It is going to have very cartoony violence with some adult themes. It will be goofy and unbelievable, but I think that's the point. I have hope, but I'm not gonna set the bar too high. Hopefully it delivers!
Did anyone else see the footage at Comic-Con? How many of you are still excited to see The Spirit? Check out all of our Comic-Con coverage right here and don't forget to stay classy San Diego!