“Remake” is the name for catastrophe on the lips and hearts of all fanboys. The hate of remakes, reboots, reimaginings, etc., that most fanboys feel is almost palpable when the words are brought up in geeky company. Many of us have our ideas of just what a property should look like, especially when it is a comic book or nostalgic property, and trying to change our ideas of what those properties should look like is almost as impossible as finding that perfect cosplay the night before a comic convention when you only have $5 in your pocket. One of the remakes that has drawn constant ire ever since the rumors of a reboot first started up a couple of years back is James O’Barr’s gothic classic, The Crow. For many people, remaking 1994’s The Crow is about as sacrilegious as having Mel Gibson rewrite the bible then calling it gospel. Well, if the man behind The Crow, O’Barr, is to be believed, some of Eric Draven’s most zealous fans can relax a bit, because the reboot will not be a remake of the 1994 film, which famously starred Brandon Lee. So, what will fans be getting?
For a couple of years now, the idea of rebooting the Alex Proyas-directed vision of The Crow has been kicked around and has had an almost revolving door of actors rumored to be sitting in the lead role. While it has not been confirmed, Luke Evans is the latest to be attached to star in the remake but that could change at any moment. While Luke Evans is a bit more suited for the role than say, Bradley Cooper, his attachment has not quieted the fears shared by Crow fans across the globe. In a recent interview, however, James O’Barr may have provided some information that may finally calm down the rumbling mob:
We’re not remaking the movie, we’re readapting the book. My metaphor is that there is a Bela Lugosi Dracula and there’s a Francis Ford Coppola Dracula, they use the same material, but you still got two entirely different films. This one’s going to be closer to Taxi Driver or a John Woo film, and I think there’s room for both of them – part of the appeal of the Crow comics after all is that they can tell very different stories after all.
Alright, well, that’s awesome when it comes to the story but how about paying respect to Brandon Lee, who lost his life while filming the original movie?
Brandon Lee was a friend, and I’d never do anything to hurt his legacy. Eric Draven was a creation of the movie – if you read the comic, Eric and Shelley never have their last names revealed. Hopefully, this is one area the new movie being more faithful to the comic will come into play, and Eric won’t be going by Eric Draven in the new film. Luke Evans may play Eric, but Brandon Lee will forever be Eric Draven.
He’s goddamn right! Brandon Lee will forever be Eric Draven to the millions of fans who fell in love with the character as he disposed justice left and right back in the 90’s. However, O’Barr really hit the nail on the head with the comparison to Dracula. No matter what the interpretation of the material may be, source material is source material and there are several ways to approach the project. The interpretation that audiences received with the original film is actually quite a bit different than the source material, no matter how beloved the film may be. O’Barr’s original work was dark and gritty and the “hero” at the center of the story was absolutely mad with grief and dealt retribution in a way that would make Frank Castle shudder. The crow that keeps the character grounded doesn’t truly exist and the character who guides Eric through his new “life”, the Skull Cowboy, while featured in a few deleted scenes and concept art, is absent from the final cut of original film. Even the circumstances surrounding the main characters’ deaths is changed in the original film and the source material’s depiction of the random violence that took Eric and Shelly’s lives is even more heartbreaking than in the Proyas film. In other words, there is plenty that can be done in the new movie without taking anything from the original film.
I had the pleasure of attending O’Barr’s panel at Phoenix Comicon and it appeared that easing fans’ minds with respect to the new movie was one of his top priorities. He shared a story of how he wound up coming on board for the reboot when he shared the fans’ apprehension with respect to the reboot. If I may paraphrase:
I got a call from the director (F. Javier Gutiérrez ) who wanted to talk to me about the remake. He wanted to come see me on his own dime so I figured, what the hell? He flew out to see me, so I picked him up so we could talk. I told him flat out, ‘I don’t want to remake The Crow’. I loved Brandon, Brandon was my brother, and the idea of someone trying to replace him was bullshit. After he let me rant for a bit the director looked at me and said, ‘I don’t want to remake The Crow, either. I want to make your book into a movie’. I thought that was interesting, so I said, ‘Go on…’. We spent the next couple of hours in that car, in the parking lot, talking about his plans for The Crow and by the time I left, I was convinced this was the guy to make the movie.
The point that truly stuck out to me at the time was that it seems that O’Barr feels just as strongly about Lee’s portrayal of Draven as the rest of us, and he is confident that the remake will separate itself from the original film enough that it does not disrespect the memory of a wonderful man who died while doing what he loved. According to O’Barr, Gutiérrez’s vision of the movie demands stark black and whites, with bright reds to punctuate the violence throughout the story. That may not be the gothic classic that spoke to those of us who lived in black velvet but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Oh, and how about that soundtrack?? O’Barr shared that the artists that contributed to the original soundtrack (one of the best soundtracks of ALL TIME) did so as a favor to him. These were artists that loved The Crow and wanted to contribute. In the end, he actually had to turn artists away. In keeping with the same spirit, he will be reaching out to his friends again when it comes time for the music that will be displayed throughout the new movie. Will it be as wonderful as hearing Robert Smith of The Cure snarl through “Burn”?
How about as wonderful as hearing Nine Inch Nails brilliantly cover Joy Division’s Dead Souls?
It’s hard to believe but I suppose time will tell.
The Crow is absolutely one of the (if not THE) greatest love stories to ever be told on film. The love between Eric and Shelly was so pure, so right, that not even death could separate them and I will take that story over The Notebook any day. There have been a few sequels since the release of the 1994 film but none of them fully captured the magic of the first film. The Crow: City of Angels came close to emulating the tone of the graphic novel but with a completely different story; The Crow: Salvation is a forgettable outing that went direct to video; and The Crow: Wicked Prayer was a made for tv movie with Edward Furlong in the iconic make up. Edward. Fucking. Furlong. Yes, it is safe to say that the sequels strayed miles away from the path started by The Crow and it is refreshing to know that O’Barr will be on hand to make sure that the new movie goes back to its roots and grows into its own creature.
Are you resting a bit easier knowing that the new movie will not be a straight remake of the original? Are you optimistic that the new movie will get the story right?
Source: Korsgaards Commentary