Frank Miller: Why The Hate?

Preface: I do not love or hate Frank Miller. I am seeking clarity on the geek community at large about all the rapidly increasing Frank hate.

Apparently I've been in a self-induced geek coma for I am guessing at least two years now. Lately, as of early December or so, I've been reading about Frank Miller and how he'd eventually go on to butcher The Spirit. This basically came to truth without a fight when the film released but the hate seemed to get turned up a notch with the rumor about Frank Miller wanting to do a Buck Rogers imagining. After reading countless forums and blogs, I decided to take a step back to try to grasp some perspective on what the hell was happening in front of me.

Didn't this guy recently make the well-received film adaptation of his own work in Sin City? Seriously, right? I vividly recall standing outside a theater with a group of friends chatting up about how much we enjoyed the film. Then the 300 eventually came to pass, and although not as well-received as Sin City, I still did not come across the Frank Miller hate that I am now.

So that was it before The Spirit, right? I mean, this is 2009 and I suddenly didn't end up in a wormhole in the future where Frank Miller remade Napoleon Dynamite, right? So what the heck is going on? Again, I am not trying to defend the guy, but I am completely clueless as to the nosedive he has taken over recent months. Was there a sleeper I didn't hear about? Did he say or do something?

I thought he was well respected and at least a visual genius. I understand visuals alone a great film does not make but, yeah, I feel like Sinclair here with a giant hole in my mind. So all you Minbari out there clue this fellow geek in please.


I think he was just a

I think he was just a producer on Sin City and 300. Those were both directors adapting Miller's work, not Miller himself adapting his work. There's a bit of hubris involved in a comic creator deciding to direct because his graphic novels were successfully adapted for the screen, and I think a large part of the hate is directed at Miller deciding that he doesn't need an actual director to film his works.

Any other hate I've heard is based on how apparently his comics come off as misogynist and dark for the sake of being dark. People were happy about it for the noir Sin City, weren't too displeased with the Spartan culture of 300, but I guess it's getting old. I also saw some people that weren't happy with Miller's comic adaptation of the Spirit; apparently, the original series was much more pulpy than Miller's version.

Not having really read any of his graphic novels, nor yet seen the Spirit, I cannot venture an opinion of my own on whether what I've heard is accurate.

DigiTribe Developer

I'm pretty sure he was happy with his final resting place
because he was buried on the mountain,
and that...
was against the law.

Stephen Cheney | Sat, 01/10/2009 - 23:15

Ste?en is right about Sin

Ste?en is right about Sin City and 300. Those movies were directed by Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder, and are largely good because they are good filmmakers, not because he's a good writer. A good graphic novel can become a bad film in the hands of the wrong guy. For those two films you named, he scored some credits as co-director or producer. But from all accounts, he was basically just watching over Rodriguez's shoulder for SC and I think he wasn't terribly involved in 300.

I don't have anything against Frank Miller, or at least I didn't until The Spirit trailers started showing up. From what I've gathered from comics fans, the problem can be traced back to the _dates_ on those graphic novels. Most of his best stuff (300, a lot of Sin City, The Dark Knight Returns, Batman: Year One, etc.) was written quite a while ago and he hasn't written anything of real quality in years. I know that his "All-Star Batman" series has been universally hated and his sequel to "The Dark Knight Returns" was supposedly awful. He's the writer behind the infamous ""Are you retarded? I'm the goddamn Batman!" line.


I think the argument is that everything he's written for the last bunch of years (10? More?) has been misogynistic, misguided, and lame. The fact that he turned 'The Spirit', a classic comic that looked a lot more like The Shadow and Dick Tracy than Sin City, into... well... what he turned it into just seemed to cement everyone's opinions.

Like Ste?en, though, I have no personal opinion on him one way or another. Just going by what I've heard. Comics fans hate Miller now and if he keeps making movies like The Spirit, movie fans will hate him too.


Andrew Kemp | Sun, 01/11/2009 - 01:35

Ah ha!

I believe that is where my memory gap was, neglecting the fact that actual directors directed the better ones while the not-so-good ones were as a result of not having actual directors.

To an extent, I can understand his work or, more particularly, his theme(s) might be getting stale but isn't he really only known by those elements anyways? Is it really worth getting bent out of shape when he has a "new" movie coming out where it is clearly in his visual or thematic style? Even from a comic book perspective, I only really recognize his work by very specific elements.

I dunno, I always associate him like I do Neal Gaiman or Dave McKean. Both have very distinct written and visual style to the point where I wouldn't even recognize or pay attention to anything they may create which breaks their signature styles.

Are there any Hollywood directors out there that break their directorial style for every feature they film? I am betting not.

"I sing like an amputee - can't hold a note, can't carry a tune."

Erik Ellickson | Tue, 01/13/2009 - 17:54

You're right, although I'd

You're right, although I'd say some rare directors do vary their style from film to film. Danny Boyle, for one. (Millions, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire)

I think the issue with Miller isn't that he's doing the same thing he's always done, but now people don't like it. I think the issue is that his old stuff is generally considered a GOOD version of his style and his newer stuff is considered a BAD version of it. Like M. Night Shyamalan. His style hasn't changed much at all from 'The Sixth Sense' to 'The Happening', but I think most people would agree that his talent asphyxiated on his ego some time ago.

So now Modern Shitty Frank Miller is out screwing with Batman and generally mucking up the same stuff he used to rock (Hmmm... George Lucas comes to mind for some reason) And THEN he plucks a beloved, classic comic character that doesn't resemble Miller's usual style and remakes the character into Modern Shitty The Spirit. I think that's the source of the hate.


Andrew Kemp | Tue, 01/13/2009 - 18:50

We saw The Spirit a few

We saw The Spirit a few weeks back. There were some really GREAT moments, and then some moments that were "is that supposed to be funny? cause its not". Neal turned to me at least 5 times and said, "what the hell is going on?" I just shook my head.

All in all.. it was "ok". I liked Scarlett Johannsen... Eva Mendes has a great ass... and I loved Samuel dressed as a Nazi. "Is that really fuckin weird???" , "Yes, sir, that is really fuckin' weird"

I did some research after seeing the film, as it was similar to Sin City but not nearly as good. I suppose that Frank Miller should not be a solo director, he needs some help bringing his vision to the screen...

"Pippin: Anyways, you need people of intelligence on this sort of... mission... quest... thing.
Merry: Well, that rules you out, Pip. "

April Fall McCl... | Fri, 01/16/2009 - 09:37

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