‘The Spirit’: Frank Miller Plays the Hero at Comic-Con

On Saturday, Eva Mendes threatened Kurt Loder's life onstage at the New York Comic-Con, after he asked if she was just supposed to be eye candy in her next film, the adaptation of Will Eisner's classic comic The Spirit. Warning Loder that her character is a jewel thief who's killed all fifteen of her husbands, she added, "I'll take down you." The giant audience (in about a 70-30 fanboy/fangirl ratio) loved Mendes's tough talk, but the real hero of the panel was never in doubt: The ovations began when Frank Miller, the film's director, appeared onstage in the black suit, red tie, and fedora worn by the Spirit, and barely stopped throughout Miller's presentation — especially after the premiere screening of the trailer, which owes more than a little to Robert Rodriguez's adaptation of Miller's Sin City.

For now, Miller is The Spirit's star; it's his name in big red letters in the trailer. Miller's best known to film audiences for the recent film adaptations of his comics Sin City and 300, but his reputation as the king of the geeks was made long ago when he redefined Batman as the gloomy, brooding anti-hero familiar to everyone below the age of 40. The Spirit, like Batman, isn't an infallible superhero; he's a wisecracking, skirt-chasing, punching bag whose only real power is being a real stand-up guy. Miller did a little skirt-chasing of his own onstage, taking any opportunity to toss a compliment toward Mendes — often interrupting Loder, his producers, or Mendes herself to do so. But Miller has goodwill to burn with the fan community, and a little awkward conversation (or even a less-than-stellar directing debut) won't hurt his standing much at the comic-book conventions. The tagline for The Spirit is "My City Screams"; on Saturday, New York City was Miller's, and its geeks were screaming indeed. —Ehren Gresehover

Related: Unmasked Avenger: Frank Miller [NYM]