Almost three decades ago, back in 1989, James O’Barr’s now classic comic book tale of love and vengeance, The Crow, released its first official issue. Besides being a symbol of the gothic trend that was beginning to pop up across the nation, the story was one that could translate to the big screen and in 1994, director Alex Proyas managed to give audiences a brilliant, if inaccurate, adaptation of O’Barr’s story. Sometime back, a reboot of The Crow was announced and, after a revolving door of actors had stepped away from the project, Jack Huston was given the role of Eric Draven with Jessica Brown Findley rumored to be stepping into the role of Eric’s fiancé Shelly. Today, we have news that the movie has found its main villain, Top Dollar, though with a bit of a twist. If rumors are to be believed, Andrea Riseborough will be playing the big baddie in the upcoming film.
Deadline is reporting that the Birdman actress is in negotiations with Relativity Studios to fill the role that was occupied by Michael Wincott in the original movie. As fans of the comic book series are well aware, Top Dollar’s role in the 1994 film adaptation was heavily expanded, compared to the character’s role in the source material. Rather than playing an almost forgettable side character, Wincott’s Top Dollar was the ruthless leader of a crime syndicate that used terror and violence to keep the city’s citizens scared and obedient. The fact that Top Dollar will once again be the main antagonist in the reboot means that the studio may not be keeping the reboot as close to the O’Barr source material as previously promised.
James O’Barr has remained firm throughout the handling of the new film that he does not want a remake of the 1994 film, a film which resulted in the real life death of the film’s star, Brandon Lee. O’Barr has absolutely nothing but respect for Lee, a man he still refers to as his “brother”, and he has assured fans time and time again that they would not be getting a reboot of the Proyas film but an accurate adaptation of the graphic novel that tells the complete story of Eric and Shelly. His insistence that this was the case has been so firm that even diehard fans of the property (such as myself) were excited to see just what the new movie had in store. This new information, if true, is not very reassuring.
The Crow is a movie that does not need to be remade. The dark, moody film was a hit that spawned several less than great sequels (we will give a bit of credit to The Crow: City of Angels for keeping with the spirit and atmosphere of the comics), and possibly one of the worst television adaptations of all time, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. None of the sequels, nor the television series, could come close to reigniting the fire started by The Crow. The film is a dark love story, to be sure, but is still considered one of the most romantic love stories ever put on film: a couple whose love was so strong, so pure, and whose end was so tragic that Eric is brought back from the dead to set things right, just so that he can once again be with the woman he loves. The movie did a great job using elements of the comic book story but still fell very short of being an accurate adaptation.
In the ‘94 film, Shelly and Eric are victims of a gang sent in to scare Shelly after reporting some issues with a slum lord. In the source material, Eric and Shelly are murdered by a gang when their car breaks down on the side of the road, which was even more tragic than the movie, since the murders were completely random, rather than retaliation. In the film, the crow that guides Eric is an actual bird that houses Eric’s strength, while in the source material, the crow is just a manifestation of Eric’s shattered psyche. One more big difference? Two words: Skull Cowboy. The spectral figure shows up in the graphic novel as sort of a guide to Eric and was actually included in the 1994 film before winding up on the editing room floor. Here are a couple of deleted scenes, so you can get a feel for the character.
In addition to promising a straight adaptation of his work, which was a promise made too soon, it appears, O’Barr also promised that the new film would showcase true blacks and stark reds in contrast, almost like Sin City, to keep with the comic book feel. Whether or not this plan has now changed as well is anyone’s guess but while it is pretty great that we will be getting another strong female lead in an upcoming Hollywood film, this Top Dollar news is anything but encouraging for fans of the property.
How do you feel about this news? Are you open to a new Crow?