By Darren Franich
Updated August 29, 2011 at 06:06 PM EDT

Sin City occupies a strange, important place in the history of comic book films. Director Robert Rodriguez didn’t just honor the spirit of Frank Miller’s hard-boiled graphic novel series; he did everything in his power to directly translate the look and feel of the series into movie form, recreating specific panels and even hiring Miller himself as a co-director. For the segment of the fanboy population that values fidelity to the source material above all else — the strict constructionists, let’s call them — Sin City was a dream come true. The film’s style proved influential: In the wake of the failure of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Sin City rescued the notion of making an entire movie in front of a greenscreen, thus serving as a test case for the megahit 300 (another Frank Miller “translation”) and the eventual misery of Green Lantern.

In a sense, Sin City also served as an advance guard for the new wave of all-star mega-ensemble films: Rodriguez had the canny sense to cast the film with an array of stars, up-and-comers, and cult icons. (The film kickstarted the career comebacks of Mickey Rourke and Rutger Hauer.) But the star power, technical proficiency, and outsized geekery behind Sin City tends to obscure a big problem with the film: It was a bit of a mess. The decision to adapt three separate City graphic novels made the film feel unbalanced — especially since, as EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum pointed out in her original review, only the first, Mickey Rourke-centric story really had any genuine emotional punch.

Rodriguez and Miller announced Sin City 2 immediately after the first film hit theaters in 2005, and now, it looks like things are finally heating up on the sequel. At Comic-Con, Rodriguez told EW that the sequel would feature an adaptation of Miller’s A Dame to Kill For along with two new stories; now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan has been brought in to rewrite Miller’s Sin City 2 script. Since Rodriguez basically makes his movies in his garage, it’s entirely possible that the film could start shooting before the end of the year.

The presence of Monahan has me feeling optimistic. For all the first film’s impressive traits, it never entirely felt to me like a movie. Rodriguez seemed to put too much pressure on himself to capture Miller’s vision — which made Sin City feel more like a filmed play. And Miller is a fascinating creative mind, but he’s become a bit too enamored with his fetishistic interests — witness his filmed version of The Spirit, which took the retro-fun of Will Eisner’s character and added in a parade of big guns/breasts. Having a third party on hand to genuinely adapt Miller’s work can only improve things.

Sin City fans, what do you want to see in the new film? And fellow Sin City skeptics, what would make you give this franchise another try?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich

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