Certain Hollywood celebrities are well-known for their love of comic books. Kevin Smith may be the first who comes to mind. Not only does Smith consistently reference comics in his films (Chasing Amy being the most direct), but he has written many successful comic books as well. Smith began his popular ride on Marvel?s Daredevil relaunch in the late 1990s, and rode the wave onto a highly successful Green Arrow run. Smith even managed to drag his pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon along, with Affleck landing the role of Daredevil in the 2003 film debut.
Freddie Prinze Jr. is another celebrity who openly acknowledges his passion for comics. Aside from marrying Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Prinze made his intentions clear from the beginning: that he wanted the role of Peter Parker in the Spider-Man film franchise. Although he didn't manage to web the role, Freddie was given the chance to write an episode of the superpowered television show Mutant X. The episode, ?One Step Closer,? aired a little less than a year ago.
Other superstars voice their participation in the comics market. Howard Stern is a well-known comic book fan. Samuel L. Jackson was recently immortalized as the face of the leading espionage expert Nick Fury in Marvel?s hit, The Ultimates. Jackson also played the hyper-realistic supervillain Mr. Glass in the comic book-inspired drama Unbreakable.
Gene Simmons, bass player and lead singer of KISS (who may be better known for his excessively extended tongue), is a professed comics collector. Although there is contention in the heavy metal community, Simmons claims that he invented the ?sign of the beast? hand sign, also known as the ?devil?s horns? or the ?horns up? and now best known as the ?rock on? hand sign. Some rumors suggest that the inspiration for the popular gesture wasn?t Satan, but rather Spider-Man. The story goes that at one photo shoot, Gene was mimicking the hand gesture of Spider-Man shooting his webs and created the sign when he bent his thumb into his palm. Supposedly, Simmons has backed up this story multiple times.
KISS made their mark on comics when they released their own title in 1977. Rumor had it that the band members actually mixed their own blood into the ink used to print the comics. More recently, another title called KISS Psycho Circus was released, shortly followedby a new Dark Horse Comics monthly KISS series, initially written by Joe Casey and drawn by Mel Rubi. Wu-Tang Clan has also released comic books based on their alter-egos.
Hollywood mega-star Nicolas Cage is another celebrity who has openly acknowledged his love for comic books. Cage comes from the Coppola family ? filmmaking royalty ? which has most recently released Lost in Translation. Cage is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. When the budding actor decided to create a screen name to differentiate himself from the Coppola legacy, he looked towards comics. He chose his favorite hero for hire, Luke Cage: Power Man.
In what would be considered a horrible travesty by any comic fan, Nick Cage sold his 400-plus rare comic book collection in 2002. The collection fetched $1.6 million for the Academy Award-winning actor. But finances were not the reason for the sale, reported the collector himself. At this time Cage was married to Lisa Marie Presley, who Cage said ?didn?t just want me, she wanted my soul.? Cage continued, expressing his regret, ?I?m choosing independence. I should have stood up to her from the start.? Cage?s words were reality as he divorced Presley, citing the sale of his vintage comic books as the breaking point.
Throughout his career, Cage has consistently attempted to link himself to comic book-based films awaiting production. Initially it seemed as though the actor would portray Tony Stark, better known as the Invincible Iron Man. The project was ditched. Now Cage seems to have finally found his hero, as reports pour in naming the actor as Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider. Writer and director of 2003?s Daredevil, Mark Steven Johnson intends to bring the flaming vigilante to movie theaters. Ghost Rider is the story of a motorcyclist who makes a deal to host a ?spirit of vengeance? inside his body. The spirit frequently takes over, and uses Blaze?s body to take revenge upon criminals, making them re-live their sins through the dark hero?s touch. Too many sins, and the victim will incinerate himself.
Ghost Rider has been an off-and-on hero with audiences since his creation in 1972 by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog. Initially, Johnny Blaze was a popular character throughout the 1970s. But the ?80s saw a decline in interest for the spirit of vengeance, and Ghost Rider kept a low profile for most of the decade. There was a lucrative resurgence of interest in the 1990s, as the spirit returned to Earth in the body of Danny Ketch. Since the late ?90s, Ghost Rider has all but disappeared. Hopefully for Nicolas Cage, Mark Steven Johnson, and Marvel, the filmgoing public is ready for its turn with Ghost Rider.