Comic-Con 08 Live: Lionsgate Presents Frank Miller's The Spirit
by Alex Billington
July 25, 2008
After an exciting presentation in Hall H earlier in the day on Watchmen, Lionsgate is following up this afternoon with an exciting presentation on Frank Miller's adaptation of Will Eisner's The Spirit. In attendance today: Frank Miller himself, producer Deborah Del Prete, and stars Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, and Eva Mendes. I'm excited to follow this panel live because I'm wondering whether it will be any good and hopefully they'll bring some new footage that will change my mind. We've all seen the latest weird trailer and it didn't look bad, but it also didn't really look good. Hopefully Frank Miller will bring us a fantastic adaptation of one of the most beloved comics in history. Its got a strong cast, but is that enough? Follow our live coverage of The Spirit panel below!
2:58PM - We're waiting for the panel to begin… So far it's 15 minutes delay and there doesn't seem to be a lot of buzz. Please show us something that will change our minds Frank!
3:01PM - Frank Miller and Deborah Del Prete are introduced by an LA Times rep for the panel today. An exciting project with a lot of different subplots to it, some of them are controversial. Frank begins telling the story of how he met Will Eisner on a street in Vermont. At the time he thought Will Eisner was the new hot guy in comics circa 1973. He opened up a copy of The Spirit and "fell inside." Years passed and he finally got to meet Will and was thrilled. Will was the friendliest, sweetest guy in the world. Explain a similar story with Zack Snyder saying that if he didn't take on the project when it was offered to him something bad would happen to it. He goes on explaining that it was his producer (Del Prete) that kept him on his toes and hammered him through the script and the development of the project.
3:06PM - Every day they talked on set about what Will would want or would Will like it? They wanted to have the voice of the artist only on the screen and took on Frank Miller because they wanted his vision.
3:10PM - Some people are considered about putting Denny Colt into Sin City… But maybe it's time to show a trailer before continuing on any further discussion! Frank introduces the "theatrical trailer" which isn't a special clip, just a regular full trailer. It was the same trailer we launched last week - if you want to watch it yourself!
3:14PM - Frank talks about how in Eisner's comic, The Octopus was only identified by his gloves. And he wanted to find some who could scare the crap out of everybody and be masculine and frightening enough to "fill those gloves" and make you be willing to look past of gloves and into the heart of darkness. And thus he introduces Samuel Jackson to the stage!
3:16PM - Jackson talks about how it was a "real honor" to put flesh and bones to someone who was only hands in Eisner's comic. Frank allowed him to explore and create and picture him that turned out to be quite fascinating for all of them, enough to even surprise Frank Miller.
3:17PM - Jackson explains that they "made up" guns… The meanest, nastiest hand guns you'll ever see in your life. And Sam was saying "where's the next one?" And Frank was saying "oh shit!" So they went on and put things together themselves. And they were putting guns on top of another and wired them up like that. It was every gun in the place and when Jackson was holding them, he "looked like a Transformer robot." He even needed wires on the guns above him to hold him up because he is "not that strong." Big frickin' guns!
3:20PM - Asking Jackson about Frank Miller as a director and not a graphic novelist. Frank loved to experiment and try various suggestions with camera placement that Jackson would make. Jackson was familiar with the Spirit comics before he became involved, but Frank gave him all of them later on.
3:22PM - Favorite action figure? Jackson says Mace Windu becomes he comes in so many different types. And he also just got some cool Afro Samurai action figures. Everyone had an action figure on Jurassic Park besides him and Wayne Knight and that was the first movie he had. He has a lot of action figures collected in his office all over everything.
3:34PM - Jackson always envision the Octopus as a guy who wanted to be so much more and tried things and was buried in the morgue - he was waiting for his opportunity to explode as the new King Pin. So he got rid of all of those people and finally found the right thing to make him the indestructible being that he wanted to be. He lost his mind and in the midst of losing it, he found something different every day that made him larger than life every time he woke up. Everything revolves around him - he is the center of the universe. The most bizarre thing they came up with was the "black Nazi" uniform.
3:25PM - Unfortunately Eva Mendes won't be here because she's filming Bad Lieutenant. Producer talking about all of the femme fatales and explaining their characters. Laureli is the "spirit of The Spirit" and is embodied by Jamie King, who is here to see everyone and talk about the movie!
3:29PM - Jamie explains her character: Frank described her as the "angel of death." She is a mystery character sort of woven throughout the film and goes through extreme love and extreme anger. Every time The Spirit gets knocked out, she's beckoning him to come to her. The Spirit is a noble hero and "look what he's willing to give up" as Frank points at Jamie.
Frank taught Jamie how liberating green screen is because they don't have to stop and reset everything. It's like going back to a child like bringing your imagination out. It also allows them to get the cast they want because they can bring who they want and shoot quickly. They never know what it'll look like and then when they do it's stunning. It's a whole new revolution of what's going to happen - they're the on the verge of new technology.
3:32PM - Frank introduces a clip. Sand Seref is a lover of jewerly. And in this she wears a very, very tight swimsuit because she has to go swimming all the time. Filming underwater is a "fucking nightmare" as Frank Miller explains but nothing replaces the movement of the hair. They found a "phantom camera" that was able to shoot "slower than death" and Eva was one of the first to use it. All of these scenes were shot dry and she was instructed to act like "the Flash." Apparently the scene is Eva under the water in a wet suit…
3:37PM - Quite unimpressive clip of Eva swimming through the water after being attacked by the Octopus. It looked really quite bad, like a cut scene from a video game, even moreso than Speed Racer. It looked too smooth and glossy, not styled enough (I think?). Overall, I was unimpressed, but alas, maybe it's not finish and I'll wait to see more footage later on.
3:38PM - Frank introduces Gabriel Macht, who plays The Spirit, and he arrives on stage to a great round of applause.
3:40PM - Macht talks about The Spirit - he's got a lot of different colors: he can laugh at himself, he can be very deadly, especially when beating the shit out of Sam Jackson, he loves women… Every women he meets he just falls in love with. He's a young detective and gets shot in the line of duty and 10 hours later he awakes into this new thing and he sees he can do certain things that other cops can't do. So he makes a deal with the commissioner to be the eyes and ears of the city. And by doing this he has an extra level of pheramone attraction. He was just a joy to play and it was an amazing opportunity!
3:42PM - Macht explains that it was a "dream come true" to play this role with all the women. Frank introduces another clip of sort, saying that we get to see a clip with Spirit with the real love of his life - Ellen.
3:44PM - Another new clip with Ellen and Spirit talking. It has a very classic, noir vibe to it, with the jazzy music and quirky scenes. I love the feeling here, although the last clip we saw really wasn't impressive. Even if the action in this movie isn't great, at least it will be full of lots of steamy romance and that will count for a lot. Especially because it has such a fantastic cast of hotties!
3:45PM - The Octopus has built a bunch of clones as henchman and so Louis Labarti (?) will feel every insult and death because they didn't want to have a bunch of stuntmen grunt when they're thrown against a wall. There's nothing campy about the movie - it's really organic humor.
Frank is asked "what would Will say" if he was here and just saw what we were shown. Frank says he probably would've said "good job" and explained that the scalpel she threw at the end would've bent and she would've needed to use it for surgery later (a joke). Macht explains that they wouldn't move on unless they thought Will would get it.
3:49PM - It's not a period movie, but they've got things from the 50's as well as cell phones and so on. Frank has also brought some of his original and his own imagination to this as well on top of adapting from Eisner's work. Frank introduces one more clip… Frank says he wants to show us what Jackson and Macht did on a very filthy and wet set with a bunch of props. Frank drew this entire scene himself and everything in this clip came from Frank's own imagining and own storyboards. "When titans clash…"
3:53PM - "Toilets are always funny." Fight scene between Spirit and Octopus - seemed very goofy and cheesy. Although she said it's not campy, this scene was very campy. A lot of odd and quirky comedy where they each grabbed various tools like a crowbar and cinder block and fought each other. The last bit was a toilet that Octopus slapped onto Spirit and it stuck on him so he looked like a toilet. And that's why toilets are always funny… or are they?
3:54PM - That's the end of this panel and thanks all around. Time to wrap up The Spirit! Completely unimpressed is not even the beginning - this was really not that amazing. Looked like it had very cartoony violence and yet very violent in a sense. Odd, but not amazing. Nice try Frank Miller, but not amazing.