Darkman was the blockbuster stepping stone between Army of Darkness andSpider-Man for Sam Raimi, and that’s exactly what it feels like. When the director couldn’t get the rights to various other existing superhero properties such as Batman and The Shadow (their loss), he decided to create his own inspired by the movies he grew up with. It pays homage to Universal’s horror films of the 1930s, noir cinema, and The Phantom of the Opera.
The film stars Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who is attacked and left for dead by ruthless mobster Robert Durant (Larry Drake), after his girlfriend (Frances McDormand) stumbles across the dealings of a corrupt developer (Colin Friels). Westlake had been developing a synthetic skin, his breakthrough comes when he realises that the skin becomes stable after 100 minutes but only in darkness. After he is disfigured by the attack on his lab, he is treated at a nearby hospital where he is given a radical treatment which effectively stops him from feeling pain. This removal gives him an adrenal overload – something that gives him enhanced strength, as well as mental instability. Setting up his lab again, he plots revenge against Durant and his associates, using the synthetic skin he made as a way to disguise himself in public. There’s your superhero origin.