Darkman (character)

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Darkman character
First appearance Darkman
Created by Sam Raimi
Portrayed by Liam Neeson (Darkman)
Arnold Vosloo (Darkman II: The Return of Durant and Darkman III: Die Darkman Die)
Full name Peyton Westlake
Aliases Dr. Peyton Westlake
Gender Male
Occupation Former scientist
Significant other(s) Julie Hastings
Abilities Expert scientist
Master of disguise and stealth
Skilled hand-to-hand combatant
Genius-level intelligence
Enhanced strength, speed, agility, and stamina
Use of synthetic skin
Immunity to pain

Darkman is a title character and the protagonist of the 1990 superhero film Darkman and its sequels, Darkman II: The Return of Durant and Darkman III: Die Darkman Die. 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 World War II disfigured hero the Unknown Soldier. He was portrayed by Liam Neeson in the original film and Arnold Vosloo in the sequels.

Fictional character biography[edit]

In the third film and the un-aired television pilot, his biography is slightly retconned, but the character's canonical history is as such: Peyton Westlake was a mild-mannered and brilliant scientist working on a synthetic "skin" capable of aiding burn victims. He had a good relationship with district attorney Julie Hastings, who indirectly caused his injuries by telling corrupt developer Louis Strack, Jr. that he could not build his "city of the future" without a permission document from Westlake's laboratory. At this, Strack hired sadistic mobster Robert G. Durant to get the document and in the process, Durant and his gang brutally disfigured Westlake, killed his assistant and destroyed his lab.

Julie believed he was dead and a funeral was held, but Westlake's hideous body was placed in a clinic that was used for various experiments to sever Westlake's pain receptors, which enhances his strength but leaves him unable to feel tactile sensations. The experiments, however, affected Westlake's mental stability and he became an impulsive, bipolar, sarcastic, and violent man. Westlake escaped the clinic and sought refuge in an abandoned building in the film's city. He hid his grotesque appearance with bandages and a trenchcoat and used his synthetic skin, which only lasts 99 minutes in the light. He managed to rebuild a relationship with Julie, claiming he survived his "accident" and was constantly fleeing so that she does not see his true face. As "Darkman", he begins ruining Durant's illegal activities by framing his gang so Durant kills his own men, including his possible implied lover. After discovering the culprit is Darkman, Durant attempts to kill him from a helicopter using a grenade launcher. Darkman manages to defeat his archenemy by clinging to the helicopter and using his strength to pull it into a tunnel and explode the chopper. Darkman gratifyingly yells "Burn in Hell!".

After this, Darkman poses as Durant in order to infiltrate Strack's new skyscraper, which was the reason the developer hired Durant in the first place. Strack suspects Darkman will come after him and takes Julie hostage. Strack suggests they join forces but when he refuses the battle atop the skyscraper. Darkman has the chance to spare his life but instead throws Strack to his death. Believing he has become too much of a monster to be with Julie, that he abandons her, vowing to become a vigilante and bringer of justice.

After a year of crimefighting, Darkman is shocked to discover that Durant is alive and back in town and that he must again battle his archenemy. He also wishes to avenge a scientist named Brinkman, who he had been partnering with in order to perfect his synthetic skin so he may lead a normal life. After defeating Durant, Darkman found a new enemy in drug lord Peter Rooker who proved to be his most powerful adversary after going through a process that makes his strength equal to Darkman's. Darkman managed to bring down Rooker by posing as him but felt conflicted as he fell in love with Rooker's wife and children, who he had to abandon as well to resume his life as a vigilante. Beforehand, however, he finally manages to perfect his synthetic skin but uses the only sample to heal Rooker's daughter.

Powers and abilities[edit]

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, reflexes, stamina, and durability.

Using his synthetic skin, Darkman is able to pose as criminals, imitate their voices, and trick them into engineering their own downfall. He's also a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and an expert in the fields of science with a genius-level intellect.


Darkman possesses similar ethics to those of a superhero, such as not harming the innocent, but has the tenacity and impulsiveness of a psychopath, as demonstrated when he revels in the suffering of criminals. He also has 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. When Julie refuses the prize, he remarks, furiously, "Take the fucking elephant!" 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. For example, Darkman breaks into a business meeting while 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 some hesitation, drops him to his death and remarks, "I'm learning to live with a lot of things."



This film documents Darkman's origins and his relationship with Julie, and systematically showing his transformation into a vengeful criminal killer and his first battle with Durant and the businessman Strack.

Darkman II: The Return of Durant[edit]

Durant survives his ordeal from the first film and plans to take over the city using futuristic weaponry. Only Darkman can stop his archenemy and avenge one of Durant's latest victims.

Darkman III: Die Darkman Die[edit]

Drug lord Peter Rooker allies with a scientist who also worked on Darkman's superhuman strength and invulnerability. He invents a steroid that gives test subjects superhuman strength, but leaves them mentally unstable. Darkman then poses as Rooker to foil his plan, but ends up having to save the villain's family.