Concept Art: Billy Zane's THE PHANTOM (1996)

Concept Art: Billy Zane's THE PHANTOM (1996)

Conceptual artist Jim Martin ("Captain America: The First Avenger") has a wonderful collection of concept art he designed for the 1996 superhero film, The Phantom. The film starred Billy Zane (Titanic) and was directed by Simon Wincer (Free Willy).


First off, I'm not a big fan of superhero films in which the superhero has no superpowers, but of course there are exceptions to that rule like Batman and Black Widow. I guess I really should say, I prefer my superheroes to have superpowers. Secondly, I'm not a big fan of the color purple, yet funny enough, I like The Color Purple (1985). Go figure. With all that said, I actually enjoyed the 1996 superhero film, The Phantom. Its not the greatness film in the world, but it has its moments and the supporting cast is actually quite good. Heck, we get to see a young Catherine Zeta-Jones ("Red 2") blossom two years before she became an overnight star because of her performance in The Mask of Zorro.

Below, is some fantastic concept art Jim Martin created for the film, which starred Billy Zane ("Zoolander") and was directed by Simon Wincer ("Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles"). I especially like the alternate designs for the Skull Cave, which is where The Phantom resides in the fictional African country of Bangalla.

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).
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