“Without making too much of it, we think of the Spider-Man comics as the first to present a story of realistic teenagers, facing normal problems of teen angst,” explains Spider-Man 2 & 3 cinematographer Bill Pope. “Spider-Man himself didn’t have overwhelming super powers. He was always self-deprecating and self-reflexive in a teenage way. It was realism, if you will, that made the comic memorable.” Now, superhero stories on the big screen require more to capture an audience, which helped put Frank Miller’s version of The Spirit on the release slate for December 2009.

The movie, which tells the story of Denny Colt, a police officer killed in the line of duty and brought back to life by a self-serving scientist, relied heavily on green screen technology to produce the graphic images first drawn by Will Eisner in the 1940s. Miller, co-director of 2005’s Sin City, has re-imagined his mentor’s famous creation for the screen, adding a little of his own touch—like his stark black-and-white images with signature red accents. “Red is the color of anger,” Miller says of his color choice. “It is also the color of sex; the color of violence. These are three of my biggest themes. The Spirit is a very angry, angry man and there is a reason why women look very good in red dresses, why the Spartans [of 300] look very good in red capes. It’s an attractive color. But it also represents very primal bloody desires we have.”