Chances are by now you've caught a trickle of the marketing deluge for the new movie "The Spirit." And, unless you are of a certain fanboy flavor, you probably thought, "who the heck is that?"
And yet we're pretty sure you know who The Spirit is. You just don't realize it.
If you know who Batman is, for instance, since many aspects of the character actually originate with The Spirit. Or if you've read Michael Chabon's excellent Kavalier and Clay, which, from a comic book perspective, may as well be a fictionalized account of Spirit creator Will Eisner. Or if you've read really anything with a pulpy comic book feel. Sure he's not there by name, but certainly Denny Colt is in almost everything four-color from 1940 on in Spirit.
We could go further, but we're here to write about Jews, not comics (though sometimes it's tough to tell, we know). And in that way, things are no less interesting.
As noted above, The Spirit was conceived by Will Eisner, a Jew (and another great inspiration you only think you've never heard of). And while there's nothing particularly Jew-y about the name Denny Colt, Spirit's secret identity is that of a Jew, too. Eisner has implied in several interviews that Spirit was intended that way, and many of his contemporary comics creators have chimed in that they always saw The Spirit as a Jewish character.
So, yeah, here's hoping the movie lives up to the marketing, because it'd be nice to have a Jewish hero that people actually know.
(Editor's update: it didn't.)