This reporter seems to think so after witnessing the film's discussion panel at Comic-Con 2008...
Frank Miller's "The Spirit," is officially in trouble. The film, which sport the same "Sin City" visuals and aesthetics for almost no good reason (The original comic by Will Eisner has a much different take with color and none of that stark, black and white look Miller adores).
Geeks will turn on you if you don't deliver the goods, and it appears that mostly everyone was grossly underwhelmed from the Comic-Con panel and what footage was shown. Not a good sign considering this is Frank Miller's directorial debut solo (no Robert Rodriguez to guide him) and the film comes out in December. If you can't build buzz at Comic-Con, five months out before release, you could be fucked. Does this speak to the idea that comic-book films have reached their inevitable tipping point? Reiko Takara, our correspondent in the field breaks it down:
"The Spirit" was supposed one of the most hotly anticipated movies going into Comic Con 2008 but it was quickly eclipsed on the Convention Center floor by the buzz around "The Watchmen." After attending The Spirit panel which featured, Frank Miller, Samuel L. Jackson, Jaime King, Gabriel Macht and producer, Debra Del Prete (Eva Mendes was also supposed to attend but was stuck on the set of the 'Bad Lieutenant'; who knows where Scarlett Johansson was), I don't think anyone left with a different sentiment. In fact, a third of the way thru, a large exodus seemed to head towards the exits. Miller showcased three clips from the movie, a romantic sequence between Gabriel Macht's The Spirit and Sarah Paulson's Ellen Dolan, one underwater gun scene with Eva Mendes' Sand Saref and a "clash of the titans" sequence between The Spirit and The Octopus played by Samuel L. Jackson where the two characters battle in the mud with the scene ending with The Octopus hitting The Spirit over the head with a toilet and the line, "Come on! Toilets are always funny." Really, always? Not in this case.
Although Del Prete, was clear to say it wasn't "campy," the clips' dialogue seemed unintentionally funny. The scenes previewed were heavily in the vein of the sleek, tech heavy work Miller did on "Sin City" with glossy black & white, grays and hints of red. This look they called "nevertime" which included mostly '40s and '50s references but with the presence of cell phones. When Miller was later asked about the special effects in another panel he was quick (for the reserved Miller) to explain that you need to "use every medium for their advantages. Every form has to be embraced for what it can do. You have to remember, I have been writing "boom" to explain an explosion..."
One thing is clear coming out of Comic Con, "The Watchmen" is still the one to watch for the geek set and their messiah, Kevin Smith is spreading the word, who during a panel with both Miller and Zack Synder, kept raving about "The Watchmen" trailer and asking them to play it, even asking Synder to act it out if they didn't have video. Even people like Slashfilm who normally adore most comic-book films called what they saw an "atrocity." If it's constituency doesn't even like it... Man, the studios should definitely be paying attention here. This one needs a major life raft or overhaul if at all possible. One of the film's prime mistakes in our mind was hiring Samuel L. Jackson, he practically ruins every movie these days and has seriously fallen from grace in the last 10 years.