I distinctly remember the first time I read James O’Barr’s THE CROW graphic novel by Kitchen Sink Press. I was a teenager, a Senior in high school and the book completely destroyed me. The stark violence and unrelenting portrayal of loss really shocked me. I became an instant fan, re-reading it often* and when a movie was announced I was ecstatic. Opening day I went and sat down waiting for a big screen emotional hand grenade.
Then the lights went out and by the end of the first act I was wishing I could take a hammer to everyone involved.
I HATE the Crow movie**
Now, I know a lot of people like The Crow and are often surprised anyone could not feel the same. I have been challenged on this before and in such cses my argument often begins by asking “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE DEAL WITH THE SCENE OF HIM PLAYING THE GUITAR ON THE ROOFTOP?” Really, tell me that’s not contrived and plain old fucking lame.
Seriously, the filmmakers took a desolate anti-hero and shopped and slopped him into an attempt at what basically boiled down to, in 1994, another Batman franchise. The whole thing was so big and overblown it’s sick. I mean, the book ends with the Crow walking toward the crippled bad guy with a hammer. In the movie there is a massive rooftop sword fight scene if I remember correctly. Then there’s the inclusion of the cop who becomes The Crow’s buddy and the little girl who becomes his sidekick. Jesus, the whole thing just makes me so sick and it really is a freakin’ shame that Brendon Lee had to lose his life making such a piece of drivel.
And now someone wants to remake it? Or wait, re-imagine, right?
While I cannot deny that part of me is curious that maybe a new filmmaker will embrace the absolute, nihilistic loss of the book, I doubt it. I don’t really know why I’m complaining about something like this – it’s going to happen and I’m most likely not going to see it, the same way I didn’t see any of the sequels. No benefit of the doubt here. But still, I guess I just hate seeing something I felt was so special ruined. It’d be similar if maybe somebody (cough* Tim Burton*cough) made a comedy out of Neil Gaiman’s SANDMAN starring Chris Elliot***. Some things just have to be done the way they are or they become something else. In a way I guess maybe I can compare it to Frank Miller’s The Spirit. Obviously it has nothing to do with Will Eisner’s book (although maybe it does – I’ve never read it. After seeing the trailer however I’m maybe just assuming he’s taken a few liberties). Miller obviously wanted to start up a new franchise based on a readymade iconic character but, from how it looks, he didn’t want to do it any further than simply re-hashing what’s made him iconic to a whole new generation and demographic of people (movie goers not comic nerds). Obviously I love Mr. Miller for what he did to comics in the 80’s and 90’s, and yes, he has earned the right to do whatever he wants, just like Mr. O’Barr earned the right to make a comfortable living off an artistic endeavor that spun out of a situation of the most terrible loss. However, the fans that connected with the original current of what these artists were doing have, in my opinion, earned the right to bitch about the course of these stories and characters just due to the fact that if it wasn’t for them, Sin City, Dark Knight Returns, The Crow – none of them would be the icons they are if we hadn’t been such non-stop nerds about reading, re-reading and shoving the stuff down everyone else we knew’s throats.
The Crow – we’ll see.
* I found in subsequent reads that it goes especially well when read while listening to the DISINTEGRATION and PORNOGRAPHY albums by The Cure, two more masterpieces steeped in loss.
** I refuse to even acknowledge any of the sequels, movie or comic. And yes, I realize by putting in this footnote I do acknowledge them, but I’m just saying.
*** How unrealistic – we all know who Tim Burton would cast as the Crow. The only man he seems able to cast in any leading role. Really, I love Depp but remember the good old days when it was a treat to see him as a lead in a Burton movie? When it still felt like they had some chemistry together that wasn’t based on box office numbers?