Way back in 1990, Sam Raimi was not a well known name. He was still a decade away from becoming a superstar director with Spider-Man and his claim to fame was as the director of the cult horror films Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. So, considering his rather low name recognition, it should come as no surprise that he was unable to get the rights to the film he really wanted to make, The Shadow (eventually made by Russell Mulcahy with Alec Baldwin in 1994).
Still wanting to make a superhero/comic book-style film, he went about creating Darkman and developing a script with Chuck Pfarrer, with input from Ivan Raimi, Daniel Goldin, and Joshua Goldin. The result is a wonderful concoction of superhero, gothic horror, comedy, and action. It will never be known as a great film, but there is no denying the fun one can have when watching it.
Let's set the stage. Peyton Westlake is a brilliant scientist with a loving fiancee. His latest project is the creation of an artificial skin to use with burn victims. The only problem is that he cannot seem to make it last longer then 99 minutes; when exposed to sunlight, the molecules break down. Something else they are able to do is make the formed faux-skin look like whatever image they feed into the system.
Peyton's troubles begin through no fault of his own. His fiancee, Julie, is a lawyer investigating a land developer and believes there is something a little underhanded going on. While investigating for potential wrongdoing, she accidentally leaves some incriminating papers at Peyton's, which leads some thugs, with a distinctive leader, hired by said developer to arrive at his lab and proceed to torch the place. Peyton is thrown clear of the explosion, but suffers major burns to his face and body.
Washing up along the nearby river, he is picked up, unconscious and in pain. The hospital he is taken to uses him as a guinea pig for a new procedure that severs nerve clusters so as not to feel the pain. This has the effect of not only stopping the pain, but all feeling, not to mention allowing adrenaline to flow freely through his system, allowing for enhanced strength.