Dr. Peyton Westlake/Darkman
Portrayed by: Liam Neeson (first film), Arnold Vosloo (sequels)
- "As I worked inside the mask, the man inside me changed. He became something different. Something wrong. A monster. I can live with it now, but I don't think anyone else can."
The eponymous hero, Darkman was once Dr. Peyton Westlake, a brilliant scientist working to develop the perfect synthetic skin to replace skin graph procedures. Everything changed when his laboratory was raided by gangsters working to recover an incriminating document and ended up horribly mutilated and left for dead. Surviving his injuries, he returned as a vigilante and uses his scientific achievements to help him get revenge on the people who ruined his life.
- Anti-Hero: He can and will be extremely ruthless but struggles to put the total good of everyone in the city over his own revenge. He goes after mobsters and criminals, enjoying the suffering he is giving them. Also while he will never harm innocent people, his unstoppable rage doesn't stop him from breaking the fingers of an Asshole Carny while incognito.
- '90s Anti-Hero: One of the earliest examples outside of comics, before many of this trope's more ubiquitous characteristics had taken hold. Darkman made his debut at the beginning of the decade, is Covered in Scars, has a one-word name that used to be reserved for villains, uses lethal force on his opponents regardless of necessity, and generally acts more like a "classic movie monster who only kills bad people" than an actual superhero.Darkman: As I worked inside the mask, the man inside me changed. He became something different. Something wrong. A monster. I can live with it now, but I don't think anyone else can.
- '90s Anti-Hero: One of the earliest examples outside of comics, before many of this trope's more ubiquitous characteristics had taken hold. Darkman made his debut at the beginning of the decade, is Covered in Scars, has a one-word name that used to be reserved for villains, uses lethal force on his opponents regardless of necessity, and generally acts more like a "classic movie monster who only kills bad people" than an actual superhero.
- Arch-Enemy: Robert G. Durant, the thug who disfigured him.
- Badass Longcoat: He finds it in the trash, but it is no less badass.
- Bandaged Face: His heavily burned face is covered in bandages and gauze to hide his identity and prevent further harm.
- Berserk Button: Don't call Darkman a "freak", try to cheat him out of a carnival prize, or as noted below, the surgery that keeps his burns from being unbearably painful had the side effect of giving him a lot of these.
- Blessed with Suck: The treatment that cut off his pain, allows him to be super strong and tough, but also makes him prone to severe mood swings.
- Cursed with Awesome: However, he does possess superhuman strength, durability, and agility caused by the surgery. Once he was able to adapt to the surgery procedure, he was able to kick a lot of ass and escape mostly without injury.
- Coat, Hat, Mask: Well, more accurately: Coat, Hat, Bandages.
- Composite Character: Of The Shadow and Unknown Soldier mixed with Universal Horror characters.
- The Cowl: Works in the shadows, as smart as he is ruthless, and never stays for a "thank you".
- Dark Is Not Evil: While not in disguise, dresses entirely in black, yet he is the hero... sort of.
- Disability Superpower: Indirectly invoked — Westlake didn't get his powers from the explosion, but as a side-effect of the doctors' attempts to treat him.
- Did Not Get the Girl: He could have, but chooses not to in the end.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Subverted. He prefers to use science and his strength, but doesn't have any hard rule against guns. When he does use them, it's for show. However, that doesn't exclude the fact he does murder Skip with his own fake machine gun leg in the novelization of the first film.
- Expy: He basically the Unknown Soldier created in the 90's.
- Eyes Are Unbreakable: Despite being caught in an explosion and repeatedly dipped head-first in a big vat of acid, his eyes are completely unharmed.
- Facial Horror: His face is disfigured beyond recognition following Durant's attack on his lab.
- Feel No Pain: The nerve endings connected to his skin were severed, rendering him incapable of feeling pain.
- Friend to All Children:
- In Return of Durant, it is shown that while Darkman prefers to be alone, he doesn't mind giving back a basketball to a kid that lost it.
- While he hates Rooker in Die Darkman Die, he doesn't take it out on his wife or child. In fact, he went out of his way to protect them. In the end, he actually sacrifices the only stable synthetic skin to fix the kid's face when he could have used it on himself.
- Genius Bruiser: As a scientist, he makes strategies for his attacks on Durant and his gang.
- Good Lips, Evil Jaws: Zigzagged. He's a pretty violent Anti-Hero, and his teeth are exposed because his lips were burnt off.
- The Grotesque: He lost his entire life and most of his face after the accident, leading him down the path to becoming "Darkman".
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Due to his amplified emotions, he can get real mad real quick. One scene in the first movie has him breaking a carny's fingers because he refused to give a prize for winning a game.
- He Who Fights Monsters: He is the first superhero to admit that he would end up like that. The scene where Pauly has been killed, he's sitting on top of a building saying "What have I become? What have I become?"
- Immunity Disability: The destruction of his nerve endings allows him to Feel No Pain... but has also cost him his sense of touch.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Thanks to his adrenaline rush, he is not only strong, but has excellent aim. As proven when, during a minor bout of stress, he managed to win a carnival game with the baseball during the first film.
- It's Not You, It's Me: At the end of the first film, he chooses not to return to his old life and renew his relationship with Julie, stating that he's changed on the inside as well and cannot subject anyone to his new vicious nature.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Darkman usually has a stray cat living with him.
- Large Ham: "JUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-LIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" and "SEE THE DANCING FREAK! ONLY 5 BUCKS! STEP UP AND SEE THE DANCING FREAK, JUST 5 BUCKS!"
- Made of Iron: Darkman can get hurt, but since he's lost all sense of touch, tends to ignore it.
- Manipulative Bastard: In the first movie, he was able to fool Durant and his cronies into believing Pauly stole their money. In the second movie, Durant caught on to his disguise trick. However, rather than it giving him an advantage, it made Durant paranoid that any of the mooks could be Darkman. He went as far as tugging a guy's face to make sure he wasn't Peyton.
- Master of Disguise: Slowly became one over the course the first Darkman, but more or less perfected it by Return of Durant.
- Mood-Swinger: Despite his status as a hero, his amplified emotions cause him to swing from one to another. As Darkman, he goes from a raging psychopath to a crying baby. Even as Peyton, he is too overly happy almost border-lining to slasher smile material.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Liam Neeson's American accent slides all over the place, till the point where you can hear his Ballymena accent coming in.
- Required Secondary Powers: Since Darkman is missing roughly 40% of his skin, he pretty much needs a Healing Factor, or he'd keel over from various horrible diseases and the injuries he sustains in battle. Die Darkman Die states that he does have rapid healing.
- Westlake also seems to be the world's greatest vocal impersonator (although the first movie does show him taking the time to practice). Also a talented ventriloquist, as he somehow manages to speak coherently without lips.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: His main motivation is to kill those who ruined his life. Lampshaded by Strack during the final fight.
- Sense Loss Sadness: After the accident he suffered, which left him severely burned, the title character was subjected to an experimental medical procedure that severed the nerve endings close to his skin; as a result, he's no longer able to feel pain... or any physical sensation at all. He's not happy about it, and in the third film, when Bridget Thorne claims she can repair his nervous system and allow him to feel again, he jumps at the chance.
- That Man Is DeadDarkman: Peyton is gone....I'm everyone and no one. Everywhere and nowhere. Call me....Darkman.
- Tragic Hero: Darkman is probably one of the best examples.
Robert G. Durant
Portrayed by: Larry Drake
- "Now, let's consider my points, one by one. One," (cuts off rival's finger) "I try not to let my anger get the better of me. Two," (cuts off another finger) "I don't always succeed. Three," (cuts off another finger) "I've got seven more points."
A psychopathic mob boss with a habit of cutting off the fingers of his victims with his signature cigar trimmer. In addition to operating his own criminal network, he also does the odd dirty job for Louis Strack Jr., the CEO of Strack Industries. Responsible for Peyton's transformation into Darkman, he serves as a major antagonist in the first film and returns to menace Peyton again in the sequel.
- Archenemy: To Darkman, seeing as he's personally responsible for Peyton's mutilation and rebirth as the eponymous hero, but also returns in the sequel and other spin-offs to menace him.
- Arms Dealer: He was already dealing in guns in the first movie, but in the second he recruits a mad scientist to produce sci-fi-esque guns to put him at the top of the criminal food chain.
- Ambiguously Gay: In the first film, it's implied Durant might have feelings for his henchman, Rick. He compliments him on murdering someone "right through the brain. Just how I like it," and the two later attend a party together where Durant offers to get him a drink. It's enough to make his henchmen question it, especially when Durant wants to know where Rick's been after he goes missing. Some of the fingers in his collection belonged to women, implying that he hates women as well.
- Bad Boss: Downplayed due to his pragmatism. He'll dole out painful deaths to employees that have cheated him in some way, but he doesn't express much emotion when loyal employees die in front of him. At one point in the sequel he's forced to choose between shooting one of his henchmen and Darkman disguised as that henchman. When he ends up choosing wrong, his only reaction is to joke about it.
- Big Bad: He was always a major antagonist, but in Return of Durant he's his own boss.
- Breakout Villain: Durant was popular enough that, not only is he the villain most likely to appear in spin-offs, but he even returned to menace Darkman in the sequel despite apparently dying in the first movie.
- Cigar Chomper: He has a penchant for smoking cigars. Though he uses his signature cigar trimmer for more disturbing purposes.
- Convenient Coma: In Return of Durant, to explain how he survived being BLOWN UP at the end of Darkman.
- Creepy Souvenir: Not only does Durant use his cigar trimmer to cut off the fingers of his victims, he keeps those fingers as trophies in his collection.
- Deadpan Snarker: Durant is hands-down the snarkiest character in the series, having a delightfully sarcastic comment for any and every situation.Durant: (after a henchman accidentally electrocutes himself) I think we've all learned a valuable safety tip here.Laurie: You killed David.Durant: I thought you might still be upset about that.
- The Dragon: In Darkman, though he was already a Big Bad as a crime boss.
- Dragon Ascendant: Following the death of his employer, Louis Strack Jr., in the first film, Durant miraculously survives his apparent death and returns as the Big Bad of the sequel.
- Fat Bastard: He's an overweight mob boss who cuts off the fingers of his victims and delights in murder.
- Faux Affably Evil: He'll put on a calm, charming facade even as he cuts off people's fingers or tortures a man for information he doesn't have.
- Fingore: Durant has the habit of collecting people's fingers as trophies.
- From Camouflage to Criminal: Implied, but not explictly stated.
- Gayngster: Possibly. There's a hint in the deli scene that Durant may have a thing for Rick.
- Hand Cannon: Wields a large revolver in the opening shootout, which he uses to take out four of Eddie Black's men with two bullets.
- Hellish Copter: In the first movie, he dies when his helicopter crashes. He gets better in the sequel.
- Joker Immunity: He seemingly died at the end of the first film, but is revealed to have merely fallen into a Convenient Coma in II. Spin-off stories also have him coming back from the dead as everything from a Deadite to a reanimated head attached to a Spider Tank.
- The Mafia: Strongly is a member and leader of a mafia group, or considers himself to be one.
- Mysterious Middle Initial: Whatever the G stands for in Robert G. Durant.
- Not Quite Dead: He somehow survives being blown up in a helicopter to return as the main villain of the first sequel.
- Pet Rat: He's a mob boss who does the dirty jobs that respected CEO Louis Strack Jr. can't be caught associating with.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Durant's a sadist but he's not a moron. At one point he snarks that he abhors violence, if it's not making him money. A few minutes later he talks a henchman down from obtaining Brinkman Electric by murdering or hurting Dr. David Brinkman, and suggests buying it legally to avoid drawing attention to themselves. When David refuses to sell, Durant and his henchmen do a repeat performance of what they did to Peyton, only David isn't lucky enough to survive.
- Psycho for Hire: A sadistic and remorseless gore fetishist who works as an enforcer for Strack in the first movie.
- The Sociopath: An all-around horrifying crime boss.
- You Have Failed Me:
- After Darkman frames Pauly for stealing money from him and planning to run off with Rick, Durant has him thrown out a window.
- In the sequel, he does a repeat performance with his henchman, Rollo, who's been skimming off the top of his drug deals while Durant was in a coma. This time has the added twist of locking Rollo in a golf cart and pushing it off the roof.
Portrayed by: Frances McDormand
An attorney who worked for the Pappas & Swain law firm, Julie uncovered the Bellasarious Memorandum, a document that proved the corruption of her employer, Louis Strack. She left the document at the lab of her lover, Peyton Westlake, unwittingly resulting in Strack sending Durant to recover the document and causing the creation of Darkman.
Portrayed by: Nicholas Worth
One of Durant's goons responsible for Peyton's transformation into Darkman.
Portrayed by: Ted Raimi
One of Durant's goons. Not only is he partially responsible for Peyton's transformation into Darkman, he also personally executed Peyton's assistant Yakitito.
- Asshole Victim: He's the one who kills Peyton's coworker and friend, so he deserves what's coming to him.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: His head crushed by a moving truck. We don't see it, but the results are not pretty.
Portrayed by: Dan Bell
One of the more psychotic members of Durant's gang.
- Evil Laugh: Lets one loose when he grabs Skip's prosthetic leg and opens fire on Eddie Black's men in the opening sequence.
Louis Strack Jr.
Portrayed by: Colin Friels
- "Look! Look about you! It's all mine! Mine because I built it! I but it all!"
The immensely corrupt CEO of Strack Industries, Strack's vision is to rebuild his city into one that matches his vision for the future. Outwardly charming, he's really a manipulative egomaniac who ordered Durant's attack on Peyton to cover up his corruption.
- Bad Boss: Accidentally kills his henchman and doesn't care.
- Big Bad: Drives the plot of the first film with his corrupt dealings to make his dream city.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: See Faux Affably Evil.
- Chekhov's Skill: He claimed that before he became head of his company that he started out as a High Steel worker. This made him skilled enough to keep balance on the beams while fighting Darkman, who was struggling not to fall off.
- Classic Villain: Pride, Greed, and Ambition are his defining traits.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: An industrialist who falls back on criminal enforcers when traditional business practices don't yield results.
- Disney Villain Death: Darkman drops him off from a skyscraper.
- Faux Affably Evil: For the most part, he initially seems genuine with his feelings towards Julie and wants to help her out. In reality, he's a greedy Manipulative Bastard willing to do anything to make his dreams a reality.
- Fisticuffs Boss: Much of his moves during his final fight with Darkman is punching the hell out of him.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Due to hiring Durant to steal a document for him that involves attempting to kill Westlake for it, he is indirectly responsible for the birth of Darkman.
- It's All About MeStrack: What do you think, Julie? Who's the real monster here? I destroy, to build something better! Whereas you? You're a man who destroys for revenge! Look! Look about you! It's all mine! Because I built it! I built it all!
- Nail 'Em: Uses a rivet gun about as big as he is in the climax.
- Visionary Villain: See Utopia Justifies the Means.
- Underestimating Badassery: When Darkman is holding him inches before his death, Strack brags about how he won't be killed by him. Sadly for him, Darkman disappoints and drops the bastard.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: He wants to steal the Bellasarious Memorandum, destroy the slums in the city, and build a brand new section that will, as he sees it, bring in a new era for the city.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: When Darkman gets the jump on him, he mistakes Darkman for The Cape and gloats about how he won't be able to kill him. He's so wrong.