The Indie Spirit:

taking on and taking out

Disney, Marvel and the

Marvel Cinematic Universe

in the twilit and allegorical indie moving comics

of Frank Miller

and

Robert Rodriguez

 

by Gary W. Wright

 

Curiously, despite having a small cameo as a biker murdered by the implicitly David Lynch linked Bullseye-played by Colin Farrell-famed indie narrative artist Frolickin’ Frank Miller was implicitly not impressed with the way his implicitly Kathryn Bigelow linked creation Elektra Natchios-played by Jennifer Garner-was portrayed by Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox when she showed up to bewitch the implicitly Richard Kelly linked blind lawyer and man with no fear Matthew “Matt” Murdock aka “Daredevil”-played by Scott Terra as a lad and Ben Affleck as a laddish young man, respectively-and team up with him to take on Bullseye and the implicitly George Lucas linked Wilson “the Kingpin” Fisk-played by Michael C. Duncan-in the twilit, allegorical and computer generated imagery (CGI) enhanced Marvelous Mark S. Johnson super satirical animaction film DAREDEVIL (2003) when the film, inspired by a character initially implicitly linked to John F. Kennedy jr. that was created by Beamin’ Bill Everett, Jolly Jack Kirby and Smilin’ Stan Lee for Marvel Comics, was released on February 9, 2003.  An implicit lack of being impressed that probably continued two years later when Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox teamed up to continue the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by returning the implicitly Bigelow linked Elektra Natchios-played again by Garner-to the Temple Theatre for more elektrafying and indomitable adventuresm this time with the equally blind and implicitly James Cameron linked kimagure master Stick-played by Terence Stamp-in the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced and Johnson co-executive produced Rowdy Rob Bowman super satirical animaction film ELEKTRA (2005), a film released on January 8, 2005.  For Miller implicitly responded to DAREDEVIL after he donned the writer/co-director hats and teamed up with co-director/director of photography (DOP)/editor/co-composer Rockin’ Robert Rodriguez to do more than just have actors in superhero and superheroine costumes run around in a CGI enhanced docufeature film but actually use a green screen draped soundstage to transform every frame of a film into a panel of moving narrative art with a little help from the visual effects wizards of CGI and from Querulous Quentin Tarantino in the mostly black and white twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie moving comic FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY (2005), released on March 28, 2005 and inspired by Miller’s own twilit, allegorical and equally black and white indie narrative art series SIN CITY (1991-2000).

 

“No reason at all to play it quiet.

No reason to play it any way but my way.”

 

        Indeed, Miller and Rodriguez immediately and implicitly affirmed that they were responding to DAREDEVIL on one level in the film.  For FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY film began with a short prologue that saw an implicitly Kelly linked suave and handsome lady killer-played by Josh Hartnett-shoot dead a beautiful, green eyed and either implicitly Hollywood or Sarah Polley linked blonde-played by Marley Shelton-in a red dress that evoked the red ninja suit of the equally green eyed Natchios in ELEKTRA with one shot through the heart with a silencer equipped handgun after kissing her as the pair stood high in the sky on a skyscraper balcony while a light rain fell on them, a deadly prologue that implied that Miller and Rodriguez believed that on the strength of Kelly’s superlative and one and only twilit, allegorical and slightly CGI enhanced indie docufeature film DONNIE DARKO (2001), which was alluded to in this prologue, that Kelly was already an accomplished indie cinematic assassin, a deadly prologue that evoked a similar and more luving and gentle scene that saw Murdock and Natchios enjoying their first and only kiss high in the air on another skyscraper balcony while a light rain that allowed Murdock to see Natchios without seeing using his bat-like echo location rader “sight” fell on them in DAREDEVIL.  This implicit interest in DAREDEVIL was reaffirmed when the camera point of view (POV) drifted away from the deadly duo and through a CGI cityscape and then pulled up into the air above the city before the shape of the city coalesced into the words FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY, for the CGI realized cityscape of Basin City aka Sin City evoked the CGI realized and opening title filled vista of New York that kicked off DAREDEVIL.

        And so, with that implicit DAREDEVIL addressing point affirmed, FRANK MILLERS SIN CITY branched off into three stories.  The first one revolved around the last day on the Force of the angina sufferin’ and implicitly Lucas linked Basin City Police Detective John Hartigan-played by Bruce Willis-doing his best to protect the Forceful fourth victim, an implicitly Natalie Portman linked girl named Nancy Callahan-played by Makenzie Vega-from the insidious intentions of an implicitly Terry Gilliam linked serial pedophile/murderer named Ethan Roark jr.-played by Nick Stahl-and being shot dead by the implicitly Rick McCallum linked Bob-played by Michael Madsen and reminding us that McCallum produced the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy-before he could do so.  Thus, Miller and Rodriguez implied that they felt that Lucas had failed to succeed with Portman and the implicitly Cameron and Steven Spielberg roasting STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy, an implication that most people agreed with at the time.

        The second story saw the cigarette and women luvin’, implicitly Lynch linked and ironically named Marv-played by Mickey Rourke-waking up to find a bewitching woman named Goldie-played by Jamie King, who also played Goldie’s twin sister, Wendy-lying dead in his red heart shaped bed and tracking down, taking on and taking out her killer, Elijah Wood’s creepy and cannibalistic serial killer Kevin-who resembled Tobey Maguire and evoked Maguire’s implicitly David Cronenberg linked Peter “Spider-Man” Parker in Columbia and Marvel’s twilit, allegorical and implicitly Cronenberg roasting and toasting Swingin’ Sam Raimi super satirical animaction films SPIDER-MAN (2002) and SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004), in which Lynch was implicitly linked to Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto “Dr. Octopus” Octavias-and his protector Cardinal Patrick Henry Roark-played by Rutger Hauer-who was as bald as the implicitly Lucas linked Kingpin-played by Michael D. Clarke-in DAREDEVIL.  Indeed, this story’s allusions to such Lynch indie moving paintings as THE AMPUTEE (1974), BLUE VELVET (1986), TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992), LOST HIGHWAY (1997), THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999) and MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) and the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving telepainting series TWIN PEAKS (1990-91) affirmed the implicit link of Marv to Lynch.  Along the brutal and bloody way, Marv sent a Judas priest played by Miller straight to hell with a bullet blasting benediction after, ironically, listening to the priest’s crooked confession in a church confessional.  Curiously, however, while Marv hunted down and killed Kevin but was still framed for the murder of Goldie and died on the electric chair, in the end, Miller and Rodriguez implied their fear that Lynch and his indie moving paintings were doomed to be defeated by beastly and CGI enhanced blockbusters like DAREDEVIL.

        Last but not least, the third story saw the Raimi resembling and implicitly linked Dwight McCarthy-played by Clive Owen-take on and take out the implicitly Tim Burton linked corrupt undercover Det. Lt. “Iron” Jack Rafferty aka Jackie Boy-played by Benicio Del Toro-and his gang and gang leader Manute-played by Clarke, who openly linked the film to DAREDEVIL to implicitly affirm that Miller and Rodriguez were responding to that film on one level in FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY-and his gang with the help of the bold, brash, buxom and bitchin’ ladies of the night of Old Town led by Gail-played by Rosario Dawson-and the aid of the implicitly Sofia Carmina (SCC) Coppola linked Miho-played by Devon Aoki.  Thus, Miller and Rodriguez implied their hope that Raimi would not destroy his indie film art career by making beastly CGI enhanced blockbusters like SPIDER-MAN.

        Surprisingly, then the film came full triangular circle with Det. Hartigan waking up to find that doctors had saved his life and that he was now under the control of the Evil and implicitly Lee linked Senator Ethan Roark sr.-played by Powers Boothe.  Finally freed after eight years imprisonment, Hartigan tracked down Callahan, now a beautiful young woman and exotic dancer with the hottest buns in town-played by Jessica Alba-at Kadie’s Club, thus continuing an affection for seamy clubs filled with beautiful, bitchin’, buxom babes with the hottest buns in town already seen and heard in the twilit, allegorical, slightly CGI enhanced, Tarantino written and co-executive produced and implicitly Stanley Kubrick and John Landis roasting Rodriguez indie docufeature film FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996).  After an emotional reunion at the club that attracted the attention of Marv, just as surprisingly and curiously still alive as if his indomitable luv for Goldie had helped him survive his two jolts on the chair or as if Marv’s full throttle and vengeful killing spree that led to his execution had yet to happen, Callahan and Hartigan leave the club to hunt down and kill Roark jr., now transformed into the Yellow Creep, his implicit link to Gilliam affirmed by allusions to such madcap twilit and allegorical indie Gilliam animaction films as TIME BANDITS (1981) and 12 MONKEYS (1995), a fitting evocation of the latter as it featured Willis playing the implicitly Lucas linked time traveller James “Jim” Cole.  Shortly after the brutal and righteously furious murder of the Yellow Creep, Hartigan killed himself so as to prevent Sen. Roark from tracking him down and torturing him to get the name and location of Nancy out of him, implying not only that Miller and Rodriguez felt that Lucas had not only failed to succeed with the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy but had actually killed what little was left of his tarnished reputation.  Then the film wrapped up with the suave and handsome killer returning to kill a duplicitous Old Town girl named Becky-played by Alexis Bledel-reaffirming the implicit fondness of Miller and Rodriguez for Kelly and that Sin City was an unforgiving place, indeed, and one where the indie spirit always prevailed. 

Luckily for Miller and Rodriguez, however, while Sin City may have been unforgiving, Hollywood and audiences proved to be more welcoming of the dynamic duo, for FRANK MILLER’S SISN CITY was a success.  A success that continued the following year when Exactin’ Zack Snyder donned the co-writer/director hats, teamed up with co-executive producer Miller and had the fearless and implicitly Lucas linked Spartan King Leonidas-played by Eli Snyder as a boy, Tyler Neitzel as a teen, and Gerard Butler as an adult, respectively-and his equally fearless three hundred Spartan warriors die fighting the epic onslaught of the blockbuster and CGI enhanced armies of the implicitly Cameron linked Persian God-King Xerxes-played by Rodrigo Santoro-implying that Snyder believed that Lucas had killed himself trying to implicitly defeat Cameron with the STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie moving comic 300 (2006) which arrived in the Temple Theatre on December 9, 2006 and was inspired by the twilit and allegorical Miller and Lynn Varley narrative artwork 300 (1998).  Making it fitting that 300 was created the same way as FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY, with the cast and crew in a green screen draped soundstage that allowed the visual effects artists to create the world of ancient Sparta and Persia with CGI.  And so an irrepressible Miller indie narrative art spirit filled theatres, and an experience transforming indie film art into indie moving comics filled Miller, inspiring him to go solo and implicitly affirm his own commitment to the indie spirit by creating his own spirited indie moving comic.  For he soon donned the writer/director hats and returned with King to the Temple Theatre with the exuberant, affectionate and mostly black and white twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced super satirical indie moving comic THE SPIRIT (2008), released on December 25, 2008 and inspired by the equally exuberant and spirited character created by Miller’s inspiration and friend, the equally indie narrative artist Wily Will Eisner.

 

“That’s the Spirit.”

       

        Significantly, no sooner did the film begin then an urgent phone call to the resurrected from the dead, indestructible, irrepressible, cat and women luving, heart breaking, exuberant and implicitly Lynch linked Denny Colt aka “the Spirit”-played by Johnny Simmons as a teen and Gabriel Macht as an adult, respectively, and resembling and constantly evoking Kyle MacLachlan’s equally handsome, exuberant, good hearted and pure spirited FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper in TWIN PEAKS and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK FROM ME to affirm his implicit link to Lynch-roused from his graveyard digs and sent him off on a determined dash across the beautifully rendered rooftops of Central City as the opening titles flashed across the screen, immediately affirming that Miller had mastered the art of using CGI to create indie moving comics in general and the art of recreating the panels of the narrative art of Eisner in particular from the creation of FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY and 300.  Just as significantly, the Spirit’s determined rooftop dash soon led him down to the streets where he caught a ride with the surprised Officer Liebowitz-played by Miller-through the city to Iger Street and a lonely marsh located behind a hole in a chain link fence.

Here the first of a film long series of fittingly spirited fisticuffs broke out with the exuberantly insidious Octopus-his name evoking the implicitly Lynch linked Dr. Octopus in SPIDER-MAN 2 to implicitly affirm that Miller was still brooding over that implicit roast, and played by Samuel L. Jackson-who, given that he was met so close to Iger Street, was implicitly linked to Bob Iger, the Disney CEO who had overseen Disney’s purchase of Pixar in 2006, led Disney’s negotiations to buy Marvel in 2009, and would also oversee Disney’s purchases of Lucasfilm/ILM in 2012 and 21st Century Fox in 2019, memorable purchases that caused the Mouse House to grow multiple company arms like an octopus.  Indeed, to affirm that implication, Silken Floss-played by Scarlett Johansson-the most beautiful woman ever and the partner in crime of the Octopus, soon showed up in a Ditko’s Speedy Delivery truck that evoked legendary Marvel artist/writer Sweet Steve Ditko, openly linking the Octopus and Floss to Marvel and affirming the implicit link of the Octopus to Iger’s increasingly multi-armed Mouse House. 

Thus, Miller also implied that the Spirit’s frantic film long battle to defeat the Octopus, Silken Floss and their tragicomic gang of exuberantly witless clones-as exuberantly witless and lookalike as the films of the MCU, and all gamely and memorably played by Louis Lombardi-and to prevent the Octopus from becoming the ruler of the world by drinking deep from the blood of Heracles symbolized his hope that indie film artists like Lynch and their indie film art would triumph over the insidious and multi-armed Disney corporate machine just like the battle of Marv to defeat Sen. Roark had implicitly symbolized in FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY.  Indeed, the film’s allusions to FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY and to MULHOLLAND DRIVE, TWIN PEAKS, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME and the twilit and allegorical Lynch indie moving paintings THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980) and DUNE (1984) affirmed the implicit interest in Lynch in THE SPIRIT.  Alas, how ironic that Jackson and Johansson, whose hilarious scenes together were priceless, would soon insult and enrage the indie ethos in real life by appearing as the implicitly Spike Lee linked SHIELD Director Nicholas J. “Nick” Fury and the implicitly SCC linked SHIELD Agent Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Jon Favreau super satirical animaction film IRON MAN 2 (2010), thus falling into the slimy and suctioning grip of the vainglorious and multi-armed Disney octopus.

 

How ironic.

 

And so the Octopus was scythed down on the relentless streets of Central City with the same implacable, indomitable and righteous fury and irrepressible indie spirit that scythed down the most dark, diseased and doomed denizens of the more sinful streets of Basin City.  And so along the way, Colt, his sweetheart Doctor Ellen Dolan-played by Sarah Paulson-and her father, Central City Police Commissioner Eustace Dolan-played by Dan Lauria, who resembled and was implicitly linked to three time Lynch DOP Freddie Francis-also came to grips with and released the implicitly SCC linked Sand Saref-played by Seychelle Gabriel as a teen and Eva Mendes as an adult, respectively-who suffered from an “Electra” complex due to the death of her police officer father-played by David Wiegand-reminding us that SCC’s father, Francis, had been symbolically killed by adversity in the Eighties, affirming the implicit link of Saref to SCC.  And so after the release on March 4, 2014 of the twilit, allegorical, CGI enhanced, Miller co-executive produced and Snyder co-written/co-produced Noble Noam Murro indie moving comic 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014), presciently inspired by the Miller indie narrative artwork Xerxes (2018), and after creating his own indie moving comic masterpiece that turned every frame into an Eisner panel, Miller brought his implicit commitment to Lynch and his indie moving paintings full triangular circle when he donned the writer/co-director/co-executive producer hats and teamed up again with co-director/co-producer/DOP/editor/co-composer Rodriguez and Alba, Boothe, Dawson, King, Rourke and Willis on the mostly black and white  twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced indie moving comic FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR (2014), released on August 19, 2014 and inspired again by Miller’s equally black and white twilit and allegorical indie narrative artwork series SIN CITY and by FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY.

 

“I beat you forever.”

 

        Indeed, the film kicked off with the cigarette luvin’ and implicitly Lynch linked Marv-played again by Rourke-implicitly having survived the attempts to electrocute him in FRANK MILLER’S SIN CITY or having still not set off on the full throttle and vengeful killing spree that led to his execution returning to survive a car accident straight out of the prologue of MULHOLLAND DRIVE to implicitly reaffirm his link to Lynch and to take on and take out some spoiled frat boy punks who dared to mock him, returning us to the brutal and uncompromising streets of Basin City aka Sin City.  Then the story segued into the story of the brash, confident and implicitly Jason Reitman linked Johnny-played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt-who, with his lucky and full colour charm sweetie, the implicitly Diablo Cody linked waitress Marcie-played by Julia Garner-beside him, cooly and cockily beat the implicitly Lee linked Senator Roark-played again by Boothe-in a high stakes game of poker in the back room of Kadie’s Club, where the implicitly Portman linked Nancy Callahan-played again by Alba-still had the hottest buns in town and still danced, though now literally haunted by the ghost of the implicitly Lucas linked Det. John Hartigan-played again by Willis.  A brash and confident victory that led to Senator Roark getting some thugs to break two fingers of Johnny’s right hand in the back of a limo before tossing Johnny out onto the street and shooting him in the right thigh.

        Curiously, the story then shifted back to Kadie’s and the story of the implicitly Raimi linked Dwight McCarthy-now played by Josh Brolin who, ironically, soon became the implicit personification of mad blockbuster CGI enhanced lusts in the form of the mad and implicitly Michael Eisner linked Titan, Thanos, in the twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Anthony and Joseph Russo super satirical animaction films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018) and AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019)-whose rendezvous at Kadie’s with the femme fatale Ava Lord-played by Eva Green, who played the fearless, brilliant and implicitly Bigelow linked Persian naval commander Artemisia in 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE-soon had him hurrying out to Lord’s place to find out why she was so unhappy.  After being beaten badly, Dwight went back to Kadie’s, teamed up with Marv and returned to Lord’s place and get into even more trouble which eventually led to McCarthy teaming up with Gail-played again by Dawson-and the implicitly SCC linked Miho-now played by Jamie Chung-and returning to kill Lord and her implicitly Iger linked husband Damien Lord-played by Marton Csokas-implying again the hope of Miller and Rodriguez that Raimi would break free from Columbia and Marvel and return to indomitable indie film art. 

At which point the story returned to Johnny, who, after getting a perhaps Cronenberg linked black market doctor named Kroenig-played by Christopher Lloyd-to dig the bullet out of his right thigh and set his broken right fingers, soon found out that Roark had killed and dismembered Marcie.  And so Johnny struck back by defeating Roark in another game of poker in the back room of Kadie’s, only to be killed by a shot through the head from Roark.  Thus, Miller and Rodriguez implied that they thought that Cody and Reitman and their small, intimate and slightly CGI enhanced indie docufeature film art would be destroyed by the beastly CGI enhanced blockbuster films created by Marvel.  However, given that the film ended with Marv and Nancy teaming up with the ghost of Hartigan-a ghost that reminded us that Lucas had sold the moisture farm and the used speeder lot to Dis and retired in 2012, reaffirming the implicit link of Hartigan to Lucas-to hunt down and kill Roark, so that the brutal and uncompromising indie spirit of Sin City once again prevailed, in the end, Miller and Rodriguez implied their hope that Lynch and his indie moving painting film art would ultimately triumph over that of the MCU.  An ironic denouement, indeed, given that Alba had by this time been linked to Lee, Marvel and the MCU forever by her role as Susan “the Invisible Girl” Storm in the decidedly non-fantastic, twilit, allegorical and CGI enhanced Timely Tim Story super satirical animaction film FANTASTIC FOUR (2005). An ending that proved, however, that when it came to film and narrative art, break could no one the exuberant and indomitable commitment of Miller and Rodriguez to...the Indie Spirit.

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

Eisner, Will.  Comics And Sequential Art: principles & practice of the world's most popular art form.  Tamarac, FL: Poorhouse Press, 2004.

 

-----.  Eisner/Miller.  Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse, 2005.

 

Wolk, Douglas.  Reading Comics.

 

Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press,                 2007.