July 29, 1994 to be exact. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I'm not sure if any of this is true because I hadn't been born yet.
What I'm certain occurred on that exact day was the release of a comedy like no other, a wacky and bizarre film that can only be described as "Tex Avery with actual people." That movie was The Mask.
Produced by New Line Cinema and based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name, The Mask starred Jim Carrey as a down on his luck banker named Stanley Ipkiss.
After donning a legendary mask owned by the Norse God Loki (unfortunately not the Hiddleston edition), Stanley is transformed into The Mask — a cartoonish, unstable, and near-invincible trickster with a knack for trouble-making!
Upon its release, The Mask was a critical success, becoming a cult-classic and spawning a large fanbase. The success of the film led to several spin-offs, including a cartoon show, a new run of comics, and a sequel.
Son Of The Mask was released in 2005, and starred Jamie Kennedy in the lead as a new character named Tim Avery, replacing Jim Carrey. Son Of The Mask was a commercial failure, with critics and audiences alike panning it for its terrible humor and overuse of special effects — which were also pretty terrible.
Needless to say, the less than stellar performance of Son Of The Mask pretty much resulted in the death of the Mask franchise entirely. The kid-friendly (but at times, genuinely terrifying) standalone sequel was the last film in the series, and any hope for a comic revival was squashed.
Which is pretty sad, considering how much of a cult hit the first film became. But perhaps it's not too late to see The Mask make a triumphant return! After all, in this day and age, where everything is making a comeback, The Mask would fit in easily!
With everything from Spawn to Trainspotting getting a sequel or reboot in the coming years, The Mask would have no trouble at all coming back to the screen. But I'm not talking about a movie, although I wouldn't be against that.
I would really love to see is a TV series based on The Mask. The character is interesting enough to merit multiple seasons of adventures! Although the series I had in mind wouldn't exactly feature the same kind of wacky adventures present in the Jim Carrey film.
No, I don't want a show in the same style as the movie. Not because I hated the movie - The Mask is one of my favorite films. But what I want to see is a TV show that returns The Mask to its dark, gritty, and gory roots!
The Dark Truth Of The Mask!
As I said before, The Mask is based off of a Dark Horse comic of the same name. What I neglected to mention is that, unlike the character in the film, The Mask in the comics is a psychotic, bloody, and completely insane killer!
Sure, Jim Carrey's version of The Mask got pretty dark, and he was always up to all sorts of hijinks — but more like a live-action Looney Tune than a bloodthirsty murderer with no remorse.
Seriously, the character in the comics was no one to root for. He was still clumsy and shy Stanley Ipkiss on the inside, but on the outside he was crazy! Don't believe me? Well, if that image above isn't enough to convince you, how's about this: Remember the infamous Tommy Gun scene from the film?
Just a hilarious scene right? It's just Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey, random movie thugs being random movie thugs, and in the end nobody got hurt. Believe it or not, that scene was actually pulled directly from the pages of the comics!
Of course, the movie team made a few minor changes to it. A pretty noticeable one being the fate of the random thugs. See, while the movie graciously let them live via The Mask's terrible aim (he goes to the Stormtrooper gun range), the comic wasn't so merciful...
[Image courtesy of Channel Awesome]
Yeah, the comic was a little more realistic, and made it a point to remind readers that the only one operating on cartoon physics was The Mask. So, while he certainly could have survived being sprayed by a barrage of bullets, those gang members could not.
Most of the scenes from the movies ended differently, and with a larger body count, in the comics. Remember that scene where he attacks the guys at the auto shop? Well, I'll let you google that one yourself.
It's also worth mentioning that the character in the comic isn't known as "The Mask," he's referred to as the "Big Head Killer." Yeah, he's got KILLER in the name! Why on Earth would anyone root for this guy?!
So Why The Changes In The Film?
So you might be wondering why the original film differs so largely from the comics. Well, to put it simply, the movie was probably better off as a light-hearted, PG-13 comedy.
The '90s were a different time, and unless your name was Blade, doing an R-rated superhero movie was difficult. Doing an R-rated superhero film with the kind of dark humor and grotesqueness of The Mask was virtually impossible, unless you wanted to lose money off of it!
So, to assure that the movie was a success, New Line Cinema toned down the violence and made the character of The Mask into a wacky, Bugs Bunny-like trickster. It's not like they completely changed the character, he was always a wacky goofball, but the movie left out his more psychotic and murderous attributes.
So Why Now?
So, now you're probably wondering why I think now is a good time to bring The Mask back in a grittier form. After all, if it couldn't work back then, why could it now? Well, just take a look around.
R-rated comic book films are HUGE, thanks to the efforts of mouthy assassins like Wade Wilson. The success of Deadpool made Hollywood realize that R-rated superhero movies aren't certain failures, and if done right they can actually be humongous successes!
Some would argue that it was in fact Deadpool that started this craze, but while I am a big D-pool fan, I've got to say that this isn't entirely true. The Walking Dead, while not a movie, is based off a comic book — and a grisly one at that. TWD first aired back in 2010, and has been making us gasp in horror ever since.
It was really The Walking Dead that opened the door for more modern mature-rated comic book-to-TV/film opportunities. Although, TWD simply opened the door, it was Deadpool that kicked it off its hinges!
But the R-rated comic fun doesn't stop there! The aforementioned Spawn remake will be rated R (and hopefully better than its predecessor). And this May, AMC is teaming up with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to bring Garth Ennis' incredibly violent and fantastic series Preacher to the small screen!
The point is, now is the PERFECT time to reboot The Mask and keep it closer to the source material this time! Don't get me wrong, I loved the film. It was funny, clever, and at times it could get pretty dark.
But having recently read some of the original comics, and being a sucker for really dark stuff (does that make me messed up? Nah), I've just got to see the original vision of The Mask turned into a TV show!
What Would The Story Be?
If you haven't read the comics, you're probably thinking that they're more or less just like the film, only much more mature. This isn't actually the case. The film's plot is mostly its own, with the comics following a very different story.
It starts off the same as the film, but along the way there are some noticeable differences between the two. For one thing, Stanley Ipkiss actually DIES in the middle of the original comic series. And this isn't a Marvel or DC property, so he doesn't come back!
Instead, The Mask goes from different owner to owner, with everyone reacting to The Mask in a different way — though they usually all tend to want to wreak havoc. The Mask TV series could start off with Ipkiss but kill him off early on and instead focus on the actual Mask, as it transforms anyone who wears it and causes death and destruction where it goes.