Place: New York City
People: Millionaire playboy Lamont Cranston (who looks suspiciously like Jack Donaghy) and his alter ego, the mysterious Shadow.
What Makes It Unique: A telekinetic, telepathic superhero who dresses like a cowboy with a cape and operates in 1930's New York City? What's not unique about that? Plus, this character has been around since the radio days and predates Batman; for whom he was possibly an inspiration.
Verdict: Revisit, more films please!
Reason: Say what you will about the 1994 film, I think it's fantastic. It's campy and rough-around-the-edges, but it's also a truckload of fun and demonstrates writer David Koepp's obvious fandom of the character (little references to all incarnations of the character are subtly strewn throughout the movie. On top of all that, as a horror fan I can't ignore that The Shadow was directed by Russell Mulcahy; the mad Aussie who gave us the phenomenal Razorback. I think, given the right budget and arsenal of talent, a franchise could be bred of this character. And yes, there is a non-committal 2012 entry for The Shadow on IMDB, but there have been talks of a sequel for so long, and with so little fruit born of those rumors, that I'll believe it when I will it so.
The Shadow is such a badass superhero in ways unique to either DC or Marvel. His presence is much darker than anything in the Marvel cannon and yet the art deco landscapes and limited technology is something not often seen in the DC universe; Jonah Hex a rare exception as far as the weaponry goes. I love the psychological aspect of a hero that can infiltrate the minds of evil men, drive them mad, and defeat them without so much as a punch thrown. I also love that he is a hero that brandishes pistols and has no qualms about shooting bad guys. Baldwin did an amazing job under the hat but I would love to see which other actors could step into the mantle. I would also love to see how sinister a direction another horror director could take the series.
I'm actually thinking this could be a very interesting project for David Cronenberg. The hero has the ability to reduce his body into nothing but a shadow which could facilitate a really gnarly transformation scene. He also wields the power of telepathy that could end up causing the heads of his enemies to explode or collapse. I also like the idea that The Shadow could be suffering from some sort of grotesque malady that is causing his body to actually disintegrate so that nothing but his chilling laugh remains. I don't know, it's a long-shot but I'd still like to see it.