The Phantom


Release Date: 1996
Director: Simon Wincer
Running Time: 100 minutes
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, Billy Zane
Comic Artist: Lee Falk
First Appearance: 1936


The Phantom began as a King Feature strip back in 1936, and drawn by Lee Falk a mere two years after his first comic creation Mandrake the Magician hit the newsstands. The Phantom has appeared in translation all over the world, and new stories are still appearing Australia and Sweden drawn by Romano Felmang.

Four centuries ago a shipwrecked boy is washed up on a beach in Bangalia where he is taken in by friendly natives. The boy had seen his mother and father murdered by pirates, and he vows an oath that he and his unborn sons will fight injustice, cruelty and piracy where ever it raises its head. Thus is created the legend of "The Ghost that Walks". An interesting note: the Phantom's costume is purple, except in Italy where it is always red.


The first superhero ever, created by Lee Falk in 1936, gets another shot at movie stardom 60 years after achieving fame in comics and serials. Billy Zane stars as Kit Walker, who discovers that he's the 21st in a line of purple-clad African superheroes known as The Phantom or, to superstitious Bengalla Island natives, "the Ghost Who Walks." When he's not fighting the evil Singh Brotherhood with his faithful wolf Devil and white horse Hero, the Phantom lives in the hidden Skull Cave. Kit discovers that Xander Drax (Treat Williams), a slimy industrialist, is plotting to take over the world by uniting the three long lost magical Skulls of Touganda. So he travels to New York, where he finds allies in crusading newspaper publisher Dave (Bill Smitrovich) and his niece, Diana (Kristy Swanson), who's also Kit's ex-girlfriend. Kit and Diana tackle Drax's forces, including the conflicted Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), in a quest for the Skulls that brings both sides back to Bengalla for a showdown. The Phantom's mixture of elaborate stunts with liberal doses of tongue-in-cheek humor was characteristic of screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, whose previous films included Innerspace (1987) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

© Karl Williams, All Movie Guide

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