The SpiritImage by Strandell via FlickrPublished by Rick Marshall
Friday, October 10, 2008

Sure, everyone’s been talking about Frank Miller’s “The Spirit,” but this isn’t the first time Will Eisner’s classic character has taken a turn in the live-action medium.

Way back in 1987, screenwriter Steven de Souza was fresh off a pair of genre-defining hits with “48 Hours” and “Commando.” Just before undertaking the project that would become one of his best-known films, “Die Hard,” de Souza wrote and produced a television pilot based on “The Spirit” — the first live-action adaptation of the long-running comic strip. While the series was never picked up, the 74-minute film has lived on as a cult classic of sorts among comic fans.

With Miller’s take on “The Spirit” currently suffering the slings and arrows of early fan critique, MTV News thought it might be interesting to reach out to the writer who first brought “The Spirit” into the live-action world for a chat about Miller’s spin and the task of bringing the character to screens big and small.

“I do notice that they seem to have done quite a few things that I did [in the 1987 TV pilot],” said de Souza of Miller’s take on “The Spirit.” “Because of the limitations of my budget, we couldn’t afford to do a period piece, so we did no period at all. We took all of the marks off the cars, had the men wear hats and used dial telephones — so our picture looked like ‘The Incredibles’ and takes place in some vague post-War period.”

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