"I'm everyone - and no one. Everywhere - nowhere. Call me... Darkman." - Dr. Peyton Westlake
Dr. Peyton Westlake, or commonly known as Darkman is the titular fictional protagonist from the 1990 superhero film Darkman. The character originated in a short story written by the film's director, Sam Raimi, titled "The Darkman," and is based on the Universal Pictures' movie monsters while retaining traits of the DC Comics WWII disfigured hero the Unknown Soldier. He was portrayed by Liam Neeson in the original film, by Arnold Vosloo in the sequels, and by Christoper Bowen in the unaired TV series pilot.
Peyton Westlake was a mild-mannered scientist working on a project to develop a synthetic skin to replace skin graph procedures in severe injury cases, and after several experiments, he could only make the skin last 99 minutes, which was reduced to a puddle of foul smelling waste product. After living together for nearly a while, on a night he proposed to district attorney and dear friend Julie Hastings to marry him, she was hesitant and left Peyton without an answer, that very night, the lights in his lab went out during a skin experiment, he discovered the skin lasted longer in darkness due to the synthetic cells photo-sensitivity to UV light.
Within mere seconds of the discovery, Robert G. Durant and his gang raided his lab, on the orders of real estate tycoon Louis Strack Jr. looking for the document known as the "Bellasarious Memorandum" that was left there by Julie that would allow him to build his "city of the future." They killed Peyton’s lab assistant Yakitito, viciously beat Peyton; burning his hands on electrical transformers, dunking his head into a vat of boiling solvent then leaving him to die in an explosion set up by Durant with two flammable tanks, a dipping bird and a lighter. Peyton’s badly burned body was thrown clear from the building and landed in the nearby river.
Julie was standing outside of the lab when it happened, Peyton is presumed dead, blown to bits because the biggest piece of him they found was an ear, she has a quiet funeral for him and continues her life.
Peyton was found by fishermen and taken to a highly advance burn ward, The surgeons observe the severity of his injuries and the pain he was in, they performed the Rangeveritz technique (Severing his thelmic nerve that receives pain) rendering him unable to feel pain. The other side effects of the operation consist of amplified emotions, extreme depression and uncontrollable fits of rage. The result of this is unchecked flows of adrenaline through his system in states of anger or stress, giving him highly augmented strength, endurance, and rapid healing potential. He escaped from the burn ward and headed into the streets, finding a black gentleman's trenchcoat, or commonly known as a duster, and fedora hat. He would set up a new lab with all of his salvaged equipment in an abandoned factory to continue his synthetic skin research.
While Darkman continued his experiment, he comes to realize his desire to exact revenge on the men who destroyed his life. One night while watching Julie at a party, he saw Durant and Rick, the man who killed Yakitito. Later that night, Darkman confronts Rick, beats information out of him about Durant and kills him by shoving him out of a manhole during late night rush hour, causing a truck to crush his head.
The second to go would be Durant’s muscle Paulie, Darkman use his skin to imitate him, stole a briefcase of money from Durant, and let Paulie take the blame, Durant had Paulie thrown out of a window of his high rise apartment. Peyton managed to rebuild his face from a damaged photo and went back to see Julie, after a brief reunion he fails to tell her of his disfiguring experience and his transformation to Darkman. Darkman imitated Durant next in order to steal money from an important deal he had with a crime boss in Chinatown, Durant and his men were baffled when they confronted Durant’s double. Darkman escaped from the clutches of his enemies while Durant and his men shot at him.
The sudden change in Peyton became apparent to Julie when she witnessed him viciously attack a carnival worker who was trying to cheat them. She went and told her boss, Louis Strack, Jr. He then revealed that he was responsible for the attack on Peyton and was in league with Durant. She left, Strack, Jr. called Durant and told him to follow Julie. Later Julie went back to Darkman’s factory hideout, there she was immediately captured by Durant’s men, They took her to Strack, Jr. while two of Durant’s men, Smiley and Rudy, pursued Darkman into his lab. Durant circled around in a helicopter, using a mini grenade launcher to kill the man he destroyed.
Darkman managed to disguise Rudy as himself and get shot by Smiley, after which Darkman beat Smiley and left him to die in the very same kind of explosion they left him in. Darkman climbed onto Durant’s helicopter, after a brief struggle, Darkman was knocked of the railing but managed to grab and hold tight to the helicopter crane cable as Durant tried to blow him up. Darkman hooked the cable to a semi truck and the helicopter crashed when it entered a tunnel, supposedly killing Durant.
That night, Darkman confronted Strack, Jr. and Julie at one of Strack, Jr.'s unfinished buildings, they fought and Darkman got the upper hand, he dropped Strack, Jr. head first of the 650 foot structure. Julie tried to convince him to return to his previous life with her, but he told her that even if he perfected his skin and covered his wounds, he would still be a monster unable to control his rage and strength. He left Julie, disappearing into the streets in another mask.
The Return of DurantEdit
Several years afterwards, Darkman set up a new lab in a abandoned subway station; he continues to try to perfect the skin but with no avail. While reading a science magazine that he got from his mail, he learns that a scientist named David Brinkman was developing a similar project. He goes to meet Brinkman to see two men trying to force him sell his factory home, Darkman intervenes and gives Brinkman his research on a disk. The next day, Darkman finds Brinkman and his sister Laurie arguing, afterwards Brinkman proposes a partnership to finish the skin together. Peyton happily agrees and leaves when his mask was minutes away from disintegrating.
That night, while Brinkman was running a skin experiment, the men who confronted him that mourning returned with some more thugs and their boss, Robert G. Durant, who survived the helicopter crash and had recently awaken from a 878 day coma. They demand that Brinkman sign his building over to them, Brinkman refused and attempted to attack with a homemade laser weapon. Durant has his goons brutally torture and kill Brinkman. Darkman shows up too late to find Brinkman's body, he instantly knew Durant was responsible due to Brinkman's missing finger, Durant’s signature. The progress they made gone, Darkman continued from scratch, but his rage and grief over Brinkman’s death and the reemergence of his nemesis prompt him to pursue his old mission, revenge.
After attending Brinkman’s funeral, Peyton learned that Laurie Brinkman intends to sell David’s building to Durant, he tries to convince her other wise but fails, he then turns to reporter Jill Randall for help, she provides him information on Durant and his plans. Soon after Jill learns Darkman’s identity, she goes on the news and tells about Durant’s return. That same night Jill Randall dies from a car bomb, Durant saw her broadcast and ordered her death. Darkman begins imitating Durant’s gang again, he learns Durant is using the factory to produce highly advanced assault rifles capable of incredible destruction and intends to sell to a Neo Nazi organization that promises wipe out all crime in the city, thusly leaving Durant without competition.
Laurie Brinkman discovers Durant’s involvement in David’s murder and refuses to sell, Durant kidnaps her and intends to kill her, but Darkman shows up, saves her, kills all of Durant’s thugs and traps Durant in his car with a bomb. Darkman explodes Durant; he is convinced that he killed him this time and leaves to return to perfecting his skin.
A New AdversaryEdit
A few months after supposedly killing Durant, Peyton continues his research, in order to fund his experiment, he steals money from drug dealers. One night he steals a case of money from drug lord Peter Rooker, he used it to purchase a crate of medical supplies which had a tracking device on it planted by Dr. Bridget Thorne. Thorne follows Darkman to his lab, she reveals to him that she was one of the doctors who performed the Rangeveritz procedure on him. She offers to perform an experimental operation to repair his the thelmic nerve, Darkman agrees on the grounds that he get to use her lab to perfect the skin.
After the operation, Darkman runs his data through Thorne's equipment and after countless failed experiments he finally is able to synthesize a permanently formula for his skin, he uses it to create a batch for his face. But just as he discovers it, Rooker shows up, it is revealed that Thorne is in fact Rooker’s mistress and had lured Darkman into her web. The operation perform on him was a fake, Thorne had implanted a device that send electrical currents through his nerves causing severe pain to the point where Darkman is rendered unconscious. Rooker steals Darkman’s research and the permanent skin batch.
Thorne takes a sample of Darkman’s adrenaline in order to synthesize a black market steroid that increases the users strength and endurance to match Darkman’s. He eventually escapes and begins working on retrieving his research. During this he develops feelings for Rooker’s trampled down wife and neglected daughter. He imitated Rooker during a surprise birthday party his wife and friends throw for him, while Rooker and his gang get doses of the new super steroid. Darkman fails to retrieve his research, but his feeling’s for Rooker’s wife and daughter intensify, He discovers that Rooker intends to have his wife killed during a special dinner with Thorne watching. But when it came, Rooker had Thorne killed instead knowing she was using him.
After foiling Rooker’s plan to kill the newly elected DA, Peyton follows him back to his waste disposal site, After a brief struggle with his thugs, Darkman begins to fight with a steroid amplified Rooker, during which his daughter is severely burned by a broken natural gas pipe. Rooker destroys the disk containing Darkman’s research but drops his batch of skin. Darkman sidesteps Rooker and lets him fall into a trash compactor, crushing him to death. Rooker’s daughter was rushed to the hospital, Peyton decided to save the innocent little girl by using the only permanent batch of synthetic skin he had on her. Afterwards he leaves again, to continue his research and rediscover the secret to perfecting liquid skin.
Darkman possesses the ethics of a superhero such as not harming innocents but the tenacity and impulsiveness of a psychopath, such as reveling in the suffering of criminals and a dangerous temper, as seen in Darkman when he (disguised as his former self) breaks the fingers of an obnoxious carnival worker for refusing to give Julie Hastings the prized elephant and when Julie refuses the prize, he remarks "Take the fucking elephant!" and when a cat hisses at him, he is enraged and argues with the cat and accuses it of thinking he is a "freak of nature". Despite his temper and preference for violence, Darkman also has a morbid sense of humor in sticky situations, when he breaks into a business meeting whilst attached to Durant's chopper, he remarks to the businessman "Excuse me!" before being pulled off again and when Strack begs for mercy, stating murder will haunt his conscience, Darkman, after only a slight hesitation, drops him to his death and remarks, "I'm learning to live with a lot of things".
Powers & abilitiesEdit
Due to clinical experiments, the nerve endings connected to Darkman's skin have been severed, rendering him immune to pain, but unable to feel physical sensations. Additionally, to compensate for his loss of physical feelings, adrenaline flows unchecked through Darkman's body, enhancing his physical strength, speed, agility, and durability, but increasing his emotional output leaving him to occasionally feel moments of intense and unstable bouts of anger and rage.
Westlake also developed the ability of voice mimicry, having the ability to replicate almost any voice that he hears from other people. This seems to only be limited to people with deeper voices as he has never been shown to copy higher pitched voices. This ability was created by Westlake after having his head dunked into the boiling solvent of his liquid skin the night he was attacked. After exposing his vocal chords to the highly dangerous solution, he struggled to speak when trying to get Julie's attention on a rainy night. Realizing that he could no longer physically feel any pain, somehow he was able to force his cords to work again and at some time during, stumbled upon discovering that his pitch was no longer bound to one pitch.
Using his synthetic skin, Darkman is able to pose as criminals and trick them into engineering their own downfall.
Peyton stands at six feet three inches tall and weighs about one hundred and fifty-six pounds. He has an average build. Before his burns, he had straight brown hair, and his eyes are blue. In the straight to video sequels, he now appears with darker brown hair, brown eyes and a fair olive complexion.
After his attempted murder from Robert G. Durant, over 40% of his body is now terribly scarred. His hands are almost reduced to bone due to horrible electric burns. His face is three-fourths the way burned leaving an unburned patch on the upper left side of his face. He has neither lips nor ears. His face, hands and most of his body is swathed in medical bandages.
Darkman also wears an all-black Jack the Ripper-like trenchcoat, commonly known as a duster, and a matching fedora.
- Despite his lips being horribly burned off, Peyton is still able to say words that require closed lips properly.
- To research for the role as Peyton, Liam Neeson contacted the Phoenix Society, an organization that helps accident victims with severe disfigurements adjust to re-entering society.
- Bruce Campbell originally was set to play as Darkman, but the studio balked at the idea because they did not think Campbell could carry the role. Campbell instead made a cameo appearance in the film's ending as Peyton's last seen disguise (credited as "Final Shemp").
- Gary Oldman and Bill Paxton were considered for the role of Darkman before Liam Neeson was cast.
- In the crossover comic Darkman vs. Army of Darkness, Ash Williams described Peyton being a cross between Lamont Cranston (better known as the Shadow) and the Mummy.
- This is likely a reference to Sam Raimi's interest in adapting The Shadow into a film before creating Darkman, but failed to do so as he was unable to secure the rights to The Shadow.
- This also may be a reference Arnold Vosloo, Darkman's actor in the sequels who portrayed The Mummy, Imhotep, in the 1999 film of the same name.