(Originally published on December 15, 2008)
Word is out that, of all things, there’s a new Phantom movie in the works.
You may remember the 1996 film starring Billy Zane. Yes, we’re talking about the one where the hero is all prettied-up in purple tights and a domino mask.
According to the report, the new film will be filmed entirely in Australia (which is apparently a major hub of Phantom fandom) with an $87 million budget, which is about $86 million more than the Zane version.
You can count CotB among the fans of the “The Phantom.” It’s just easy to poke fun at — he does wear a PURPLE suit after all.
Just in case you need your memory jogged a bit, “The Phantom” was based on the comic strip character of the same name. Originally created by Lee Falk, the strip is more an adventure serial than about a comic-book superhero about a man sworn to protect the jungle as “the ghost who walks.”
The 1996 film likely got greenlighted because of the continuing success of the Batman franchise and other comic book properties that were popping up at the time. But then again, that’s also the time we were getting absolute crap like “Judge Dredd” and “Barb Wire,” too, so it wasn’t exactly a Golden Age of comic book movies.
When it came out … it landed with a resounding thud. Back then, it got lousy reviews and quickly disappeared at the box office. Why, even the trailer makes it look awful.
But then it hit cable, and over time, it has won fans. Lots of fans. Why the change of heart? Well, I suppose that once people got past the Phantom’s hideous, awful, obnoxious, mortifying and damn ugly costume, it turned out to be a pretty good action movie. Not Indiana Jones level, but on par with a good martial arts flick.
If you don’t believe me, go over to IMDB.com’s user comments section for the movie. There you’ll note a distinct change in tone by users. When it was first getting reviewed around the time the site started, it gets lousy reviews. But over time you see more folks saying, “Hey, this is a goofy movie, but it’s actually pretty good.”
And now we’ve got a new Phantom movie on the way. Great news in CotB”s book-book, and we can only hope the film industry takes another stab at “The Shadow” (a movie that’s amazingly cool and funny at the same time) and “Tarzan” (lousy acting, but great action) while they’re at it.
UPDATE 2011: Check out the new Phantom trailer here. The film debuted on the SyFy Network.
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