Comics Ate My Brain

December 9, 2008

Watching the detectives

Filed under: spirit — Tom Bondurant @ 3:50 pm
Fan reactions to the fast-approaching Spirit movie seem pretty uniform to me: it’s more Sin City than Will Eisner.

It makes me wonder: isn’t Frank Miller’s style really better-suited to Dick Tracy? Likewise, what if Warren Beatty had made a Spirit movie instead of Tracy? (A commenter on this YouTube version of the Tracy trailer wants a crossover.)

Granted, Beatty’s Dick Tracy was only about “bringing a comic strip to life” as far as it involved garish art direction and broad acting. Beatty would have had to appreciate the way Eisner used a comics page, and somehow translated that to a static frame for moving pictures. In a way, I suppose the Sin City movie, with its uber-faithful recreation of Miller’s work, tried to do just that.

And you know, I ask “what if Warren Beatty…?,” but really, a Warren Beatty Spirit isn’t my first choice, because I wasn’t that thrilled with Dick Tracy and I doubt his comics sensibilities have been tuned any finer in the past eighteen years. I guess I’m asking why Frank Miller has apparently abandoned The Spirit‘s nominally graceful, light attitude — and that may be asking why Frank didn’t just adapt Sugar & Spike; or why no director has staged a Batman-movie fight around a giant typewriter. The medium has limitations, and the audience has expectations.

I still think Miller’s a better fit for Dick Tracy, though….


  1. Actually, I think Warren Beatty on THE SPIRIT is a great idea– I haven’t seen DICK TRACY since it was first released, but watching that trailer again, I was struck by its witty tone, bright color and use of shadow, and think all of that would make a much more interesting SPIRIT movie than the one we’re about to get.

    Comment by Brian Doan — December 16, 2008 @ 7:15 am

  2. Hmm, really? Dick Tracy’s one of my favorite comic movies, precisely because of the “garish” art direction, bright colors, and general sense of a Sunday strip slapped onto celluloid.

    Comment by Bill Reed — December 22, 2008 @ 3:21 am

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