1980s Forgotten Superhero Movie With Star Trek Leading Actress

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Nana Visitor in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Right now, we’re living in the midst of both the Golden Age of superhero films and the long-awaited Star Trek renaissance. However, fans of both genres don’t realize that the 80s brought us a now-forgotten film that blends one of the most influential superheroes ever made with one of the best actors to ever appear in Star Trek. Below, you can watch a preview of the television film The Spirit, which features Nana Visitor, best known for playing Bajoran station commander Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The 1987 film The Spirit (not to be confused with the 2008 film of the same name) features the adventures of a police detective (Sam Jones) who goes missing and is presumed dead. Deciding that he can fight crime better when his enemies think he is dead and buried, the detective dons a suit and mask and gives himself a new crimefighting name: The Spirit. In a manner likely to remind you of Batman’s own crimefighting adventures, our superhero works in tandem with the police commissioner of Central City. 

The Spirit is based on the landmark Will Eisner comic book.

Where does Star Trek icon Nana Visitor come into all this? In The Spirit, she plays the daughter of the police commissioner and a love interest for our titular superhero. As a law-abiding good girl, she is the perfect romantic match for The Spirit and a perfect narrative foil for P’Gell, a bad-to-the-bone femme fatale running her own art forgery racket.

Nana Visitor in The Spirit (1987)

Nana Visitor plays the daughter of the police commissioner and The Spirit’s love interest.

Originally, The Spirit was intended to serve as a pilot for a television series, but the series was never picked up by any network. It’s a shame because the pilot finds the perfect balance between camp and crime fighting, and it feels like a breath of fresh air to those who are used to the more serious world of modern superhero cinema. The pilot also has a very high pedigree: it was written by Steven E. de Sousa, best known for writing the Bruce Willis action film turned perennial holiday classic Die Hard.

Decades after this failed TV pilot, The Spirit received a proper theatrical film…

Another reason we’re sad The Spirit never got his own television series based on this pilot is that the character and his creator have been hugely influential on the world of comics for the better part of a century. The original comic strip was created by Will Eisner back in 1940, and its noir storytelling had an amazing influence on Batman and countless other gothic heroes. As for Eisner, he has been so influential to entire generations of comic creators that he has an award named after him (the Eisner Award) that is given each year to the best and most innovative comics.

Sam Jones in The Spirit (1987)

Decades after this failed TV pilot, The Spirit received a proper theatrical film, but that Frank Miller-written film was an empty and passionless attempt to ride on the success of Sin City. We far prefer this 1987 TV pilot because it captures the spirit of the original comics and the characters who are at once larger than life and immensely relatable. The fact that it also stars Nana Visitor, our favorite Bajoran, is just icing on the cake.

Or, for you Deep Space Nine fans out there, icing on the hasperat souffle.