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Sam Raimi’s Most Underrated Superhero Movie

He may be leading the MCU’s latest entry, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessbut Sam Raimi is mainly known for two great trilogies: evil Dead and Spider Man. The former is more of a cult phenomenon and the latter is one of the catalysts for the current booming era of superhero movies that Hollywood is still enjoying. The two franchises also seem to represent two sides of Raimi that are constantly at war with each other in his films. On the one hand, there’s the pioneering gonzo horror with its signature blend of kinetic camera and absurdist camp. On the other, his brand of heartfelt heroism full of touching breadth of emotion. the evil Dead and Spider Man movies appear at opposite ends of Raimi’s sensitivity spectrum, but his first experience in a superhero movie, dark manis an incredibly underrated film and a perfectly unstable brew of these opposing forces.

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Although the rest of Raimi’s film career is overshadowed by the size of his two biggest trilogies, he’s had a versatile run. In the 90s, Raimi tried to make his mark a little more sincere by making a handful of films aimed at adults, but when it comes to his early career, it certainly involved a lot more than Bruce Campbell run with his chainsaw arm. Between diabolical death and Evil Dead 2directed by Raimi Crime wavea collaboration with Joel and Ethan Coen, and obviously, a production headache. Then between the Evil Dead 2 and army of darkness, Raimi was longing to bring a dark hero to the big screen. Since he couldn’t get the rights to The Shadow (a character from a collection of serialized pulp media from the 1930s) or Batman, Raimi created his own superhero and edited his first studio film at Universal Studios.


After starting his career with three films that were too chaotic to care about trivial things like plot, Raimi suddenly found himself with people to answer to. Raimi should loosen up his stylized camera work a bit and put more emphasis on the characters and the structure of events in the film. The story of dark man follows a scientist, Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson), which specializes in creating synthetic skin to aid burn victims. After being attacked by mobster Robert Durant (larry drake), he was disfigured by severe burns. In a failed attempt to cure himself, Peyton’s treatment instead allows him to develop superhuman abilities which he plans to use to his advantage as he seeks revenge against Durant and his employer, corrupt industrial developer Louis. Strack Jr. (Colin Friels).


Blinded by revenge, Peyton’s mind also begins to deteriorate as a result of his treatment, causing him to become increasingly psychotic. The heightened premise really needs something tactile to anchor it. Fortunately, Liam Neeson is more than up to the task. In a role that reminds me Claude Rains in James Whaleit is The invisible Man, Neeson delivers a welcome dose of instant gravity and dark comedy to Raimi’s horror-infused superhero flick. And Neeson isn’t the only one in the film to pay homage to universal monster movies. While the premise wasn’t a dead giveaway, Raimi also wanted his superhero movie to act as a pastiche of those classic films. The idea makes sense. Horror and superhero movies share a similar strong sense of reality, showing that Raimi would be eager to convey his horror and monster movie sensibilities to the burgeoning genre at the time.


Although Raimi made a point of trying to recall his energy direction, dark man makes it very clear that Raimi operating at a lower stylistic level is still ten times more kinetic than the average filmmaker. What this film adds that its previous films lacked is a lack of restraint in its settings.diabolical death is confined to one house, and while Crime wave included a thrilling sequence involving an apartment window, dark man raises the bar by having action sequences on tall scaffolding, a helicopter chase and even a villain whose main objective is to illegally buy the city’s real estate to build what he calls the “city from the future”. The sets look like open sandboxes for Raimi to play in as he experiments with something that would become the cornerstone of his Spider Man movies.


If Raimi was really trying to cool the jets on his hyperactive style, he certainly picked the wrong genres to pay homage to. Beyond being the ambitious mix of monster movie and something like Tim Burtonit is Batman released a year ago dark man also seems to draw inspiration from noir and even takes time for a romance between Peyton and his girlfriend, Julie (Frances McDormand), a lawyer also in the crosshairs of Durant and Strack. Raimi’s first attempt at creating a grounded superhero story is like everything he’s done in his career so far: ambitious. The film requires him to spin dozens of plates in the air while commanding the camera to circle the action with unpredictable and relentless energy.

And Raimi succeeds. As the film vacillates between gruesome violence and over-the-top emotions, it paradoxically makes the film feel like a cohesive mess. With Neeson effortlessly able to ground any revenge-focused action, the pulpy pleasures of the story just keep coming. Revenge and justice are thematic subjects that Raimi would return to in his Spider Man movies, and looking back dark man over 30 years later, it’s fascinating that both renditions of the theme came out of the same director. Or Spider Man learns to let go of hate as an act of personal growth, dark manHis thirst for revenge is a curse that only drives him further into isolation.


Fittingly, Raimi’s highly original take on a superhero movie ends in a different way than the vast majority of movies in the genre. Again, the comparison with his Spider Man movies feel appropriate. At the end of the first film, Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) understands the great responsibility that comes with his new great power. He’s willing to sacrifice parts of his life that he previously thought he couldn’t live without in an attempt to balance what he needs to do with what he should do.

Just before the credits dark man, Peyton also accepts his new role as a powerful protector. However, Peyton’s decision at the end of the film feels more like resignation than reconciliation. He reluctantly accepts that his life can never go back to what it was. Likewise, the landscape of superhero movies would never be the same after the release of dark man. The film is an early example of the malleability of superhero movies to interweave with other genres (something the modern MCU made to keep their films fresh), and Raimi’s cheerfully reckless energy behind the camera makes for a hilarious and entertaining film.


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