Dear Older Brother
Sometimes, one has to turn to older siblings to try to understand things that would otherwise keep us dazed and dumbfounded. Fortunately, I have you.
Last weekend, my movie buddy and I went to see the new film “The Spirit.” There were a lot of things that I lack the background to understand.
When we were children, we used to read, from time to time, a comic book called “The Spirit.” I believe it was sometimes linked together with Plasticman.
The Spirit was a former policeman. He kept a secret headquarters in a cemetery. The reason he had to wear a mask and keep his real identity secret was that everybody thought he was dead. He wasn’t dead, but wanted to help fight crime as The Spirit.
He wasn’t a super hero. In fact, he was a little bit of a nerd. he always wore a black “Lone Ranger style” mask, blue suit, blue hat, red tie, and high-top tennis shoes. Commissioner Dolan, who wanted The Spirit’s help but usually criticized him all the way through the story, was a really funny-looking guy. I have always thought that Will Eisner, the real-life cartoonist who created The Spirit, probably looked like Commissioner Dolan. He had wispy white hair, with more of it growing out of his ears than off the top of his head. Both Dolan and The Spirit were extremely awkward, and were usually drawn as if they were reeling off balance. They solved crimes and escaped serious harm by luck and accident. That’s the way I remember it.
Interestingly, in the 1940s and while the Super Race was dominating Europe, The Spirit was Jewish!
In the movie, though, The Spirit is a super hero muscle man. He has the same black mask, but his suit and hat are also black, not the friendly blue from the comics. He actually was dead, brought back to life by a super-criminal as an experiment. He recovers from shootings and stabbings, as does the criminal, because they were both dosed with the same secret formula. In the movie, The Spirit is a tough, gritty guy. Women can’t resist him, and his libido overfloweth. That probably bothered me more than anything, because no self-respecting children would want to read a comic about a man who gets distracted by girls.
I think The Spirit in the comic book was not really dead, but Will Eisner is, so there’s nobody to ask but my older bud.
So, is the movie Spirit the same one as the comic Spirit? I don’t think so. I think they just stole the name.
— love, Jim