On February 17, 1936, The Phantom made his first appearance in daily newspaper comic strips. Created by comic strip artist Lee Falk, The Phantom has found new fans over the course of the past seven decades. Through the reprinting of the original strips in comic books, novels, and original comic book series about the mysterious masked hero, The Phantom has intrigued and entertained audiences from generation to generation.
Of course, Hollywood couldn’t resist being part of The Phantom legacy. In 1943 a fifteen-chapter movie serial was produced and exhibited in theaters. The Phantom would return to theaters once again in the form of Titanic’s Billy Zane in the 1996 feature film adaptation of the comic hero.
Now, in 2010, SyFy has brought the character back to life in a two-part miniseries. This update of The Phantom tells the story of Kit Walker (Ryan Carnes), a regular kid with a dark and enigmatic past. When his past catches up with the present, Kit finds himself a reluctant participant in the events taking place around him. When he discovers the truth about his past, he must decide whether or not to run away from it or to fulfill his destiny.
Now, I recently read a few reviews about this film on its imdb.com page that say it’s an abomination, an abortion, and it sucks. This person either didn’t see it – since it hasn’t aired yet, but maybe they got a screener like me – and is basing their opinion on commercials, or they have seen it and were upset that it wasn’t exactly like the comics.
Both are reasonable assessments of this particular person’s negative view of the film. Yes, it is an updated version of the story, which means that the suit, the weapons, and the locales are updated as well. If you’re a Phantom purist you may find several points of contention with this version of the story. Totally understandable.
I totally understand why fans of the original version of The Phantom would be upset. A superhero they love and would marry if they had the chance is getting a 21st century update. People who love their Phantom wearing purple and drinking milk probably won’t like this film as much as a younger generation.
But guess what? The younger audience is what this film is targeted at! It’s on SyFy, it stars a young kid, and it’s fun and enjoyable to watch. If you’re looking for the 1936 version, do as the angry person on imdb.com says and watch the original serial from 1943. That way I can enjoy this version, you can enjoy your version, and everyone is happy in the end.
I also understand those who felt it had bad dialogue, was poorly acted, and set comic book films back by a decade. As a person who has had to review lots of crap over the years I can tell you that it becomes much easier to hate everything you watch instead of trying to find things you like. Bad reviews seem to flow from the brain and onto the page a lot easier than positive ones. Anyone who reads comments on imdb.com knows what I’m talking about.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and I would like to hear yours. Did you like the movie? Why? Did you loathe, despise, and think it was an abomination? Explain. Please leave a comment below. And let’s be civil about this. It is just a movie after all and not the end of Game 7 between the Lakers and the Celtics.
I liked The Phantom. There. I said it. Now come and get me!
The Phantom, Parts 1 & 2, premieres Sunday, June 20 at 7/6c on SyFy.