Superhero Films – The Spirit (1987)


A review of the 1987 failed television pilot The Spirit starring Nana Visitor and Sam J. Jones as Will Eisner’s famous masked superhero The Spirit

Will Eisner The Spirit Sam J. Jones

Detective Denny Colt is one of the finest, upstanding, uncorruptible cops around and he’s just arrived in Central City. Knowing Colt will cause them a lot of headaches when he discovers some suspicious activities at the city’s museum he’s gunned down and left for dead by a pack of nefarious criminals.

However, Colt survives the attack and decides to use now apparent demise to his advantage. He grabs a fedora, straightens his red tie, puts on a mask and vows to continue to fight crime. He’s no longer bound by the rules of the law either! The criminals of Central City better watch out for The Spirit!

Sam J. Jones returns to my superhero series as our lead hero once again. After bringing to life Flash Gordon, Jones steps into the mask of another popular hero from the earliest days of superhero history.

Legendary comic artist Will Eisner’s creation was one of the most popular and beloved characters during the 1940’s. The Spirit would be pushed to the side by more colorful, powerful characters through the years, so when ABC aired a proposed pilot film for The Spirit it might have caught audiences a bit off guard.

The movie was mostly ignored and forgotten by audiences. Eisner himself was said to have been disappointed with the final result. Not surprisingly the series never happened, but the 74-minute movie remains.

Trying to balance a campy fun, tongue-in-cheek, adventurous tone on a limited budget, the story moves the character from his 1940s dark noir setting to the most brightly lit present day setting of 1987.

The Spirit must try to stop a series of art thefts and fraud at the city museum and find out who is responsible for his partner’s death. To lend him a hand Commissioner Dolan and a streetwise kid are there to lend him a hand. Oh, and naturally Dolan’s beautiful daughter Ellen might need some saving too.

Superhero Films – Chap. 30: The Spirit from HaphazardStuff on Vimeo.

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