Even in the Morbid Curiosity Files, where the acknowledged purpose is to watch films that I expect to be bad, there are sometimes different viewing reasons that come into play. In the case of 2008’s The Spirit, it comes down to a form of self-imposed obligation. I may have long since stopped reading comics, but I remain a comic book fan in principle. I enjoy superhero movies as a genre. I like discussing them with other fans of the genre. This means that even if I don’t expect greatness out of a film in the genre, I usually want to see it anyway just so I can participate in the discussions.
In the case of The Spirit, there’s an extra wrinkle in the form of intellectual honesty. As I have made clear more than once in the past, I am not a fan of Frank Miller; I dislike him as a comic book writer, and I have disliked everything of his I’ve seen on film. He wrote the Sin City graphic novels, which I disliked, and co-directed the first movie adaptation (and its upcoming sequel) with Robert Rodriguez. I didn’t think the change in medium improved it. He wrote the graphic novel 300, which Zack Snyder adapted into a movie that I found hysterically funny even though it wasn’t meant to be. He wrote The Dark Knight Returns, a Batman story that I’m in the minority of disliking severely, both on its own merits and for the long-term damage it did to the character’s portrayal.
So when I learned he would be writing the screenplay for The Spirit, and that it would be his first solo directorial effort, I was concerned. Continue reading