Film adaptations of comic books are at the peak of their popularity since 1989’s Batman revived the genre. Films as diverse as Spider-Man, Batman Begins, Sin City and American Splendor are achieving critical acclaim and packed houses. A documentary on this cultural phenomenon would have been welcomed, which is why it is so unfortunate that Comic Book: The Movie, directed and starring Mark Hamill (Star Wars’s Luke Skywalker), is an embarrassingly amateurish 2004 mockumentary.
Hamill plays a comic book fan documenting and trying to subvert a film adaptation of his favourite 1940s superhero who is being transformed into a terrorist-battling commando. The attempt to satirise cultural politics, comic book fandom and Hollywood fails on every level. Clichés are rife, the acting, writing, editing and production values are completely bargain basement and cameos from personalities such as Hugh Hefner, Kevin Smith, Bruce Campbell and Matt Groening are wasted. Even the DVD is poorly authored and has appallingly low sound levels.
Hardcore comic book fans may enjoy the interviews on the second disc, with legends such as Spider-Man’s creator Stan Lee, but the film itself is to the mockumentary classic This Is Spinal Tap what a Police Academy sequel is to Citizen Kane.
Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 236, 2005