Several months ago, when it was announced that they’re going to adapt The Spirit for the movies, I was totally appalled. Not so much because they seem to be trying to adapt almost every other comic books to films, but rather because the choice of director was Frank Miller.
Readers of this blog would already know how I feel about Frank Miller (next to Will Smith, he’s my geek villain of the recent years). Sure, Frank Miller is an accomplished comic-writer/artist, but what is his directing cred again? He certainly had been given too much credit for Sin City and 300, both of which he only had a part in writing the script.
Not all films he had touch become gold either – in Robert Rodriguez’s hands, Sin City became a critical AND fan success, while Zack Snyder’s 300 was simply a turdfest, although a pretty one at that (Frank Miller’s hand might be the reason it became one, if you ask me).
A few weeks in, and numerous critics have massacred The Spirit, writing it off as a spectacular failure. Graeme McMillan of io9 wrote about the reason why The Spirit failed so bad, and the impact it will bring:
A Shift In The Way Hollywood Views Comic Books
It seems that movies based upon comic books seem to fall into three camps: The Big Name Characters (Batman, Spider-Man, Iron Man, for example), Critically-Acclaimed Sources (The Spirit, 30 Days Of Night, Hellboy), and Fodder (Almost all of the movies we report are being based on indie comics that you read and think “I’ve never heard of that”). While The Spirit‘s fall is unlikely to change the direction of Iron Man 2, it may make studios less willing to invest in something that may end up as critically savaged and abandoned by even its core fanbase; the key here is in how The Spirit‘s failure ends up being contextualized. Will the industry just accept that it was a bad movie, or will it be viewed as something that wasn’t mainstream enough for mainstream audiences nor “comicky” enough for comicbook fans, and therefore satisfied no-one? If it’s the latter, expect reticence from studios about more comic book movies that don’t have “smash” written all over them from the start.
Frank Miller’s Star Will Fade
More than likely, blame for the failure of The Spirit will land squarely and firmly on the shoulders of its writer and director instead of causing the industry to think about things like screwing up the release date and misunderstanding the appeal of the movie. This is, ultimately, a good thing, though; not only was Miller’s movie credibility weirdly inflated considering both his limited involvement in the movies of Sin City and especially 300, but an end to Hollywood enabling his starfuckery may see him finally given some creative impetus to move beyond his schtick that has been tired for the last decade or so.
The most fun however, as always is in the comments thread. A commenter, EnBuenOra, imagined when that when the project was started, somebody was saying
“We’d like to do a new Sin City, but tackier, schtickier, and aim for a dumber crowd. But make sure and keep all the chicks in lingerie, ’cause that shit works.”
Frank Miller..are you getting all this? You should’ve stopped after Sin City. Or at the very least, bloody move on.
Update (06/01/2008): Frank Miller is set to start the sequels of Sin City and 300. Which is good…wait, a sequel for 300?! What shit is left from the comic mini-series to be made into a sequel?
Oh man, as long as you stick to writing and not directing, I’ll give you my benefit of doubt.