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File:Darkman-pre-pp 7561.jpg

The answer lies within this page.


"I'm everyone - and no one. Everywhere - nowhere. Call me... Darkman."


Years before Sam Raimi brought a certain web-head to the screen; he created his own superhero in this 1990 film. It stars Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who has invented synthetic skin that, at this point, will disintegrate after 99 minutes of exposure to sunlight. His girlfriend, Julie (Frances McDormand), runs afoul of gangster Robert G. Durant and his thugs, who have him nearly killed. Peyton, now horrifically burnt, uses his own invention against the crooks as his new alter-ego, Darkman.

Darkman was generally well received by critics and performed well at the box office, grossing almost $49 million worldwide, well above its $16 million budget. This financial success spawned two direct-to-video sequels, Darkman II: The Return of Durant and Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die (in both of which Darkman is played by Arnold Vosloo), as well as numerous comic books, video games and action figures. Over the years, Darkman has become regarded as a cult film.

Tropes used in Darkman include:
  • Ambiguously Gay: Durant.
  • Anti-Hero: Type II with the methods of a Type IV.[context?]
  • As You Know
  • Badass Longcoat: Darkman.
  • Bandaged Face
  • Battleaxe Nurse: A nurse stabs Darkman in the thigh while he's in therapy just to prove a point to the guided tour she's directing.
  • Becoming the Mask: Inverted.
  • Berserk Button: Don't call Darkman "freak".
    • Or try to cheat him out of a carnival prize. Or... actually, as noted below, the surgery that keeps his burns from being unbearably painful had the side effect of giving him a lot of these.
  • Big Bad: Strack, in the first film. Durant and Rooker make up for the sequel films respectably.
  • Blessed with Suck: The treatment which made him super-humanly strong, agile, and impervious to pain also amplified his emotions to the point that he's in a near-constant state of uncontrollable rage and despair. Also, he apparently has no sense of touch.
    • It is explained that he received surgery to cut off his sense of touch to block constant pain from the burns covering his body. This in turn caused the brain to amplify his emotional responses to fill in the void left by lack of external stimulus.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Darkman's cover during one disguise is blown this way.
  • Bond One-Liner: Durant is prone to these.
  • Break the Cutie: Westlake had just proposed to marry his girlfriend. It seems like she was going to say 'yes' too.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Peyton has to do this in the end. After saving Julie and hearing her reassurance that he'd be able to one day perfect his synthetic skin, he feels he has to ditch her. Because while he does have hope that one day he'll make a permanent solution, the blood on his hands and his personality change from the surgery would make him feel just as much of a monster inside as he feels outside. He can live with it, but he doesn't think anyone else can. So he leaves her in disguise.
  • Bury Your Gays: All of them, twice.
  • Captain Ersatz: Darkman is one of The Spider, The Shadow and Batman.
  • Car Cushion: Where Pauly ends up.
  • Coat, Hat, Mask: Well more accurately Coat, Hat, Bandages.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Louis Strack Jr.
  • Circus of Fear
  • The Cowl
  • Crossover: Dynamite Entertainment produced a four-part mini-series seeing Darkman team-up with Ash.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Just angry. Very, very angry.
  • Darker and Edgier: As was the trend in superhero movies at the time, but even then, Peyton is particularly brutal and violent to the villains he deals with. Of course, it's sort of right there in the title, so.
  • Disability Superpower: Indirectly invoked — Westlake didn't get his powers from the explosion, but as a side-effect of the doctors' attempts to treat him.
  • Disney Villain Death: Strack, and also Rooker, the Big Bad of Part 3, to some degree, as he fell to his death from a catwalk during his fight with Darkman... into a giant shredder.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Yeah, the carnival worker was a cheat. What happens to him, however, is a good example of just how thin the thread of sanity that Peyton's holding onto is.
  • The Dragon: Robert G. Durant, at least for Strack. Durant is basically a hired crime lord to do all of Strack's dirty work.
    • Nico to Rooker in Darkman III.
  • Driven to Madness: Peyton's rebirth as a Superhero is born from a massive trauma induced mental breakdown.
    • The fate of Rick in the Novelization and Comic Book Adaptation, after seeing Darkman's face and being interrogated by him. Possibly also his fate in the original story concept, as novelizations tend to be based on such things.
  • Evil Laugh: Westlake tends to emit a villainous cackle whenever he kills gangsters, threatens to kill gangsters or contemplates killing gangsters. It could be because Raimi originally intended to make an adaption of The Shadow, or it could simply be because Westlake hasn't really managed to hold on to all of his marbles, since his trauma.
  • Exact Time to Failure: 99 minutes 'till the skins wear off.
    • This is extended in the second movie by further research and development. Oddly, the time limit is back to 99 minutes in the third movie with no explanation.
    • Also extended in the first movie simply by keeping the artificial skin covered and out of the light until he absolutely needs to.
      • Apparently, the third movie was meant to come out before the second or something along those lines, and they just released them in the wrong order.
      • Better explained that Durant's attack in the first sequel destroyed the work of Darkman's ally, resulting in his being force to use the previous formula of his later masks.
  • Expanded Universe: There are two decent sequels, a very nice Novelization, which started a short-lived series by the same author, a somewhat lame Comic Book Adaptation, a really great Comic Book miniseries by Kurt Busiek, a television pilot, a crappy video game, and a comic book crossover with Evil Dead.
  • External Combustion: How the reporter in the sequel dies
  • Eyes Are Unbreakable
  • Face Framed in Shadow
  • Facial Horror: Some of the most memorable.
  • Fingore: Durant sliced off a lot of fingers. And keeps them from rotting and decaying.
    • Also, Peyton vs. Jerkass carnie. Ouch.
  • Friend to All Children: Demonstrated in the first eighteen minutes of the second film.
  • Gayngster: Possibly. There's a hint in the deli scene that Durant may have a thing for Rick.
    • Also Rooker's right hand man Nico in the third film.
  • Genius Bruiser: Darkman
  • Get It Over With
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: The side effect of the surgeries Darkman undergoes to allow him to do anything without feeling crippling amounts of pain.
  • Hellish Copter
  • Hour of Power
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Subverted; Strack tries to save himself by invoking this trope. Guess how Darkman responds.
    • The villains in the sequels are under the assumptions that Darkman doesn't kill. Darkman himself also seems to be under that delusion that he doesn't kill bad-guys, even though he lethally disposes of every villain he comes across.
  • I Lied: Used by both Durant and Darkman in the first movie.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Darkman has a stray cat living with him.
  • Latex Perfection: The skins.
  • Lighter and Softer: The sequels, to a degree. Also the movie's Comic Book Adaptation.
  • Lost in a Crowd: Peyton vanishes from Julie in this manner at the end. By turning into Bruce Campbell.
  • Made of Iron: Darkman can get hurt, but since he's lost all sense of touch, tends to ignore it.
    • Driven home at one point when he accidentally lights his hand on fire while working... and doesn't notice for several seconds.
  • Master of Disguise: Darkman
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Robert G Durant
  • Nail'Em: Strack wields a rivet gun in the construction-site battle that concludes the original film.
  • Nightmare Face
  • Not So Different: The first movie makes it pretty clear that the only thing separating Westlake and his nemeses is that he's bumping off "bad" people. The That Man Is Dead speech in the finale underlines the point.
  • One-Episode Wonder: The abandoned TV pilot is one of finest and most accurate examples of superheroics on live-action television.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Darkman wants to be the one to kill Durant. And he did, more then once.
  • Pet Rat: Durant is one.
  • Psycho Serum: Darkman III's Big Bad creates one out of Darkman's DNA and injects it into his mooks. It gives them all of Darkman's enhanced strength, but also gives them Darkman's bouts of total rage.
    • And that in itself is a case of Did Not Do the Research; everything "superhuman" about Darkman is a result of extensive surgery to his nervous system. That isn't something that would carry over to DNA samples, at all.
      • Possibly the Big Bad was really just doping up his mooks with PCP, but told them it was the DNA of a butt-kicking adversary so they wouldn't worry about the drug's nasty side effects?
      • The serum was stated to realign the nervous system, in effect chemically replicating the surgery performed on Westlake.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Since Darkman is missing roughly 40% of his skin, he pretty much needs a Healing Factor, or he'd keel over from various horrible diseases and the injuries he sustains in battle.
  • Retcon: Durant was killed in the copter crash in the first film. But in the second film, it merely left him comatose. In the final film, a villain named Dr. Bridget Thorne was one of the doctors who treated Westlake's burned body in the first film.
  • Save the Day Turn Away: Dr. Westlake won the Pink Elephant, defeated the villains, and saved the girl. But due to his transformation into a hideous berserker of faceless justice, Peyton must abandon his desire of a life with Julie. He must walk the path of the hero alone, in the darkness.
    • He performs one in each sequel as well, always followed by an heroic monologue.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Played with. Strack actually chooses his ground against Peyton quite well in the first movie, as he has experience in skyscraper construction.
  • Superhero: a rare example that is native to the film medium.
  • Take That: In the Evil Dead comic crossover, the main villain refers to Rooker as not being worth bringing back.
  • That Man Is Dead: "Peyton is gone."
  • Tragic Hero: Darkman is probably one of the best examples.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Not only does it show exactly what is going to happen to the helicopter that chases after Darkman, it also clearly depicts Strack as the Man Behind the Man, which is treated as a twist in the actual film.
  • Vigilante Man
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Skip disappears after Durant's death. There was a scene of Darkman killing him with his own prosthetic leg. With the scene cut, Skip avoids any retribution.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: RoboCop, even down to the locations.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Strack is a bit too quick to assume Westlake is The Cape (trope) and therefore can't kill him. Not in this superhero movie, smartass...