Rating: 3 out of 5.

What makes a superhero movie is a family lineage, a number of magical trinkets, a purple suit and domino mask, to save the world? Drawing from the comic strip by Lee Falk you get the Phantom 1996. It is interesting to look back at comic book movies before the formula into an expanded universe. Even if you don’t succeed in movie theaters but on home release it develops a cult following. While some pulp comics have made some resurgent as the Shadow, Rocketeer and Phantom through cartoons and comics in recent years. Also these pulp characters are stuck in the time period after WWI to the start of WWII but in their obscurity can bring them and revitalize their stories.  

In The Phantom 1996 the cast is made up of character actors whose talents help bring out more in their roles even as the script is lacking depths. Billy Zone plays the Phantom as a mix of Clack Kent and Batman, it is not a bad combination. He has an innocent, charming quality even in costume while not brooding is a welcome change to a superhero film. Also the Phantom comes from a lineage of father and sons of previous Phantoms. Usually it is just one generation passing the torch to another and the emotions of living up to your predecessors and letting your family down. That could work in a series or lightly touch upon in a movie the weight.If there is another reboot could play up the family lineage. Treat William is delightfully as Xander Drax; he is the evil villain and having fun doing it. 

My favorite part of the Phantom are the Skulls of Touganda, the three magical trinkets in the film the Phantom and Xander Drax, the skulls come in 3 colors silver, jade and gold. One the Skulls is located at a museum and is on display in a wrong exhibit due appropriating another culture’s artifacts. Was the skull gained through legal method or not due to the setting place in the 1930s. Hell, the start of the movie begins with Quill and his cohorts robbing the burial sites and shrines of indigenous who live there. Also the paperwork that goes with the gift could go missing or get lost and you have to search for it through the paperwork. Hopefully get lucky and find documentation about the donation or gift. Anyway back to the movie I enjoy the blur between the supernatural and reality in the film. The Skulls of Touganda are used well in the film as even they are supernatural super weapons that need to be joined together. But the power it contains in the palm of your hand and I really would wanted the Phantom to have taken them and placed all 3 in his cave. A trophy in his ancestral Skull Cave, to be a reminder of this adventure or to be used later on.

A recurring theme in art is the memento mori is something that reminds the viewer of death. The Phantom is like a film version of the memento mori reminders of death while also full of life. Usually there is a moment that the hero is afraid of what they do matters if their involvement has done more harm. 

Some negatives are one the script doesn’t go full crazy in the mythos of the Phantom. As they have a band female air pirates that use once as a line. There was no villain left to hint or play up a possible sequel. The fighting choreography is okay and the characters don’t feel like they are endangered. There is humor in the campiness of the characters and funny without it realizing. The Phantom costume has patterns noticeable depending on the light.

Despite all its flaws The Phantom remains one of my creative influences from magical jeweled skulls and their eldritch powers. That I recommend others should give it a watch.

Currently it can be streamed on Tubitv and on Prime