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The Phantom is a 1996 film based on the long-running comic strip of the same name. It stars Billy Zane as the Phantom, Kristy Swanson as his love interest Diana Palmer, Treat Williams as the villain Xander Drax, and Catherine Zeta Jones as Dark Action Girl Sala.
The film is set in the 1930s, when the comic strip debuted, and draws characters and plot points from the comic's first few story arcs. This also means that it shows the Phantom's home as being in India, when the comic strip had long since retconned it to Africa.
Even though some fans responded well to the film, and Roger Ebert gave a favourable review, it bombed at the box office. It earned $17,323,326 in the United States market, the 93rd most successful film of its year. But that failed to even cover its budget. At least, it has since sold well on VHS and DVD.
The film provides examples of:
- Crystal Skull
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks
- Eye Scream: Drax's punishment for an underling who talks to a reporter.
- Effortless Amazonian Lift / Over-the-Shoulder Carry: A restrained Diana Palmer gets this treatment from Sala when she is captured.
- Faux Affably Evil: Xander Drax has impeccable manners even when he's killing or maiming underlings in horrible ways, which really makes it worse.
- Flynning: The sword fight scenes at the end of the movie are (painfully) full of this.
- It's Personal: Said word-for-word for Diane when she punches out Sala.
- The Movie
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black: Spectacularly averted!
- Another thing about The Phantom's costume in the movie is that it's even designed to "change color" depending on the lighting. It can shift from bright to dark purple, red, grey, or blue in a Shout-Out to how various publishers over the world change the color of his costume based of preference.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Xander Drax.
Drax: It begins and ends with an X.
- Nature Hero: The Phantom is really good with animals.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: The Singh brotherhood.
- Pirate Girl: Sala.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Attempting to tie together three very different (albeit classic) storylines from the comics into a coherent whole and still trying to maintain the Kit Walker/Diana Palmer romance. The reason the film fails is because it collapses under its own ambition.
- Sky Pirates
- Spirit Advisor: Kit's dad appears to him to goad him on his quest. It's not clear whether he's real or not, but a cabby driving the Phantom around is freaked out when Kit starts arguing with himself. He also doubles as The Narrator.
- Thrown From the Zeppelin: Or in this case, Impaled On The Spear.
- Two-Fisted Tales: They did get that right at least.
- Viewers Are Geniuses: One complaint about the film is that it assumes the audience already knows who The Phantom is and what he does. The introduction has a very condensed version of the origin story (Taken almost directly from the first panel of many of the comics) but other than that it pretty much starts in the middle of the 21st Phantom's career with no backstory.