Manhunter isn’t a Martian Manhunter movie. It’s actually the very first movie appearance of infamous cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter. People just forget about it, because it didn’t reach nearly the same level of admiration as its Best Picture winning successor. Despite having Michael Mann as a director. Manhunter is only ever brought up in comparison, but it does have its own merit. Manhunter is based on Thomas Harris’s first novel Red Dragon. Names like Lecter were changed to Lecktor and the title itself was changed too.
Brian Cox portrays this approach to Hannibal Lecktor as a different, more charismatic evil genius already behind bars. He makes an impression, but he’s barely in the movie. Manhunter refers to the true lead Will Graham. The retired FBI agent who caught Lecktor, but visits him to gain insight into the mind of a new serial killer. The “Tooth Fairy” is the one to catch since this is more of a game of cat and mouse. One with a lengthy amount of forensics, analysis, and investigation. Something that apparently influenced CSI shows.
I’m not a big fan, but it does give Manhunter a more unique identity. A specific color palette does the job too. He’s no Hannibal Lecktor, but the “Tooth Fairy” is a creepy threat. Hiding under a mask and sporting a Red Dragon tattoo. Until he’s revealed to be the more or less human Francis Dollarhyde. Probably the best takeaway is how Graham puts himself in the mind of a serial killer. Something most FBI agents do to find their target. Manhunter isn’t winning any awards, but it’s still interesting to see an early interpretation.