“I’m everyone – and no one. Everywhere – nowhere. Call me…Darkman.”
– Peyton Westlake
Long before he got his hands on Spider-Man, Sam Raimi dreamed of doing a comic book adaptation. He’d been eyeing the rights to Batman, but they kept slipping out of his reach. And so, he decided to make his own comic book hero.
Darkman (1990) isn’t an adaptation, but it was designed to look and feel like a comic book movie. It drew inspiration from Batman just as much as it did from classic horror movies like Frankenstein and The Phantom of the Opera. And, perhaps most importantly, it was Raimi’s first time working with a major production studio like Universal. It was a landmark in his wildly successful and expansive career, with plenty of twists and turns to come.
But, even if you know and love our antihero, here are some things you might not have known about the making of the film and franchise!
1. Gary Oldman, Bruce Campbell, and Bill Paxton were all considered for the main role of Peyton Westlake. Ultimately, the part went to Liam Neeson.
2. Although Neeson has become a familiar face in adrenaline-fueled blockbusters—looking at you, Taken—Darkman was the first action film he’d starred in.
3. Darkman’s appearance was constructed with ten separate pieces of special effects makeup. Almost all the effects were practical, some pieces being controlled by animatronics when Darkman’s face changes.
4. Some scenes have even been repurposed in Raimi’s later films. One of Darkman’s hallucination scenes features a clip of nerves firing, which was later recolored and edited for use in Spider-Man (2002).
5. Darkman has appeared in multiple comics since the film’s release—a reversal of the usual comic book adaptation. In 2006, he appeared in a crossover series alongside another Raimi character: Ash Williams, from The Evil Dead.