I'm sorry Frank Miller. I dig you, I do. But I'm officially off The Spirit bandwagon now. We saw the trailer, we saw three scenes, we heard the same pitches that have been all over the Internet, and I am just not feeling it anymore.

Let's go into a description of the footage first. We saw three scenes throughout the course of the panel. One of Eva Mendes swimming, having just pulled off some jewel heist. Technically, it was lovely, as it looked like she was underwater when she wasn't (one of the first uses of a "phantom camera" in film, apparently) -- but the scene made little sense. The Octopus was shooting, there were close-ups of his mouth, her accomplice is shot, and it ends with her "Shut up and bleed" line from the trailer. The second was a "love scene" between Ellen Dolan and the Spirit. Again, we get a glimpse of this in the trailer, when he slams her against the blinds. Their consummation is thwarted by the Commissioner, accompanied by a painfully overacted Morgenstern, who the Spirit promptly seduces. The last scene was a one on one fight between the Octopus and the Spirit. They wrestle in the mud, they hit each other with giant wrenches, they punch each other hundreds of times, and Octopus hits the Spirit with a toliet, exclaiming "Toliets are always funny!" It was like 300 (smoky red lighting, weird filming speed) by way of Looney Toons.

It's all extremely over the top and campy. They claimed Dolan's character was the "quintessential Hitchcock blonde" and it was obvious that's what they were going for with the sexy dialogue. But it's all too fast, too self-conscious, and distinctly unsexy. At one point, someone on the panel said they could see Cary Grant as the Spirit, but nothing in this film has that kind of suave charm. It wants to, but it's just too silly, and comes off like satire. That's my take, let's let Miller, producer Deborah Del Prete, Samuel L. Jackson, Jaime King, and Gabriel Macht talk through me:

-- The film is set in a "Nowhere Time" where people wear 40's and 50's clothes, but use cell phones and other pieces of modern technology.
-- The odd humor that I found so out of place is "organic," where things are funny just because they are painful and accidental.
-- When it came to the Octopus, they could no longer get away with gloves. He had to be someone who could be terrifying, so naturally, Miller cast Samuel L. Jackson.
-- The Octopus is behind the serum that makes the Spirit immortal. He uses it on himself after, it makes them both virtually indestructible.
-- Jackson: "It's great to put flesh and bone on someone who's only been gloves since 1937."
-- Jackson kept demanding bigger and bigger guns. They wired guns together to make the "meanest, nastiest, handguns you've ever seen in your life" only to hand it to him, have him use it, and say "Where's the next one?" "When he holds them," Miller said, "he looks like a Transformer robot."
-- According to Jackson, Miller was an enthusiastic director, listened to anyone who'd been on more movies sets than he had. "He tricks you into something you might not want to do, but he's so sweet about it you have to give it a try."

--Miller had to fight for odd things, like building Sand Saref a bedroom for the Spirit to enter, though it would be cheaper for him to just go into her bathroom. Will Eisner's Spirit would never enter a woman's bathroom.
-- Jackson was asked which of his personal action figures was his favorite, and surprise, it's Mace Windu. Someone yelled "Nick Fury!" to which he replied that Fury had been a white man until recently. "It's so amazing that he morphed into something I could relate to. You too can grow up to be a black man!"
-- Jackson saw the Octopus as someone who wanted to be more than he was, more than a kingpin. His serum that brings Denny Colt to life gives him the means to be that, but it also drives him insane. He collaborated with Miller on the wacky costumes, his favorite of which is the black Nazi. "I became a black skinhead! [In America] you can be anything you want to be!" According to Del Prete, Sam and Scarlett had all the fun due to the insane costumes. Apparently, they dress to match.

-- The women in the movie covers just about any male fantasy.
-- Lorelei, the ghostly girl at the beginning of the trailer, is the spirit of The Spirit. Jaime King describes her as "The Angel of Death for cops and sailors. She has an extreme love for him." Lorelei's feelings go from extreme love to extreme hatred because he won't join her in the otherworld. Del Prete says their relationship makes the Spirit that much more heroic and endearing. "He's willing to give [that] up for the people of Central City."
-- When it came to casting the Spirit, Miller wanted to follow Richard Donner's lead and find someone who would be the Spirit first, a star second.
-- According to Macht, the Spirit has an amazing pheromone attraction, and falls in love with every woman he meets. They apparently fall for him too, judging from what we saw.
categories Comic-Con, Cinematical