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The Untold Truth Of The Crow Reboot

The old expression goes, "third time's a charm." Well, if that was the case, "The Crow" reboot would have been made six times over already. The franchise might be beloved and cherished due to the 1994 film starring the late Brandon Lee as the character colloquially referred to as "the Crow," Eric Draven, but the project has had its wings clipped at every single turn. The latest news is that "It" star Bill Skarsgård will be the next Crow. Bearing in mind that the news was released on April Fool's Day, who knows if it might end up becoming some baffling joke down the line.

Let's keep our fingers crossed that the situation with Skarsgård pans out. Meanwhile, the history of this troubled production is almost a movie itself, featuring a notorious cast of famous directors and well-known actors who all attempted to deliver their interpretation of this tragic character. Try as they may, they have been halted in their tracks for several reasons and left frustrated. But to quote Eric Draven, "It can't rain all the time." Let's slip into our black trench coats, crank up "Burn" by The Cure, and find out more about the untold truth of "The Crow" reboot.

The Crow creator thought Luke Evans was perfect

British actor Luke Evans had a blockbuster year in 2013. Not only did he appear in two huge films — "Fast & Furious 6" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" — he was also wrapping up "Dracula Untold" and had just been cast as the lead in "The Crow" reboot. At the time, the director attached to the project was F. Javier Gutiérrez.

More importantly, Evans' casting in "The Crow" was praised by the most important person of them all — James O'Barr, the creator of the franchise. Speaking at the 2014 New York Comic Con, O'Barr explained that the studio wanted Evans for the role from the start, but he and Gutiérrez looked at various actors in the makeup to see who the right fit would be. When O'Barr arrived on Evans' photo, he stopped. According to O'Barr, "I said, 'This is the guy. This is perfect.' And it was Luke Evans."

O'Barr continued, "[Evans] flew over from England ... to get my blessing." Apparently, Evans felt strongly enough about making sure he had O'Barr's approval that he paid for his own plane ticket. Years after Gutiérrez departed the production, he shared concept art of Tom Hiddleston and Evans imagined as the Crow and it's remarkable how incredible both actors look in the guise.

Corin Hardy spent four years working on The Crow reboot

After Lance Mungia's "The Crow: Wicked Prayer" joined the series of "Crow" sequels to fall well short of the original film's standards in 2005, talks of a full-blown reboot surfaced. Directors and actors entered and exited the production much like the meme of Grampa Simpson walking in and out of a burlesque house. However, one filmmaker stuck around for a significant amount of time and seemed ready to take flight with the project — "The Nun" director Corin Hardy.

"It's a story that I'm just in love with and wedded towards and I put three and a half, four years of life into and love and blood and sweat and tears, and I have a ton of materials," Hardy told ComicBook.com. Hardy worked with Jason Momoa on this version of the project before they both departed. However, Hardy has been reluctant to discuss his specific vision for the story too much, since he still hopes that it could happen one day. Taking into account the chaotic history of this production and how its status constantly changes, nothing is impossible. Stranger things have happened.

Footage of Jason Momoa as the Crow broke the internet

The movie version of Eric Draven is a musician, and one of the touchstone scenes of the Alex Proyas film features Eric shredding his six-string in an expression of raw anguish seemingly directed at the night sky. Checking out Jason Momoa's social media feed, it's beyond clear that he's on a regular, healthy diet of rock 'n' roll. Therefore, it shouldn't come as any surprise that the "Aquaman" actor would show interest in "The Crow" — it's a very rock 'n roll-oriented action franchise. O'Barr has cited The Cure, Joy Division, Iggy Pop, and other rock acts as major influences on his original graphic novel, and movie's soundtrack has been lauded as one of the best of the '90s.    

However, some fans had their doubts about whether the beefy and muscular Momoa would be able to do the pale and wiry Eric Draven justice in Corin Hardy's vision for "The Crow." All uncertainties were squashed when footage of Momoa in the Crow's signature makeup found its way onto the internet and sent the socials into a frenzy. The still images and clips show Momoa with his face painted black and white and demonstrating some of his version of the character's unique mannerisms, allaying any fears that he wouldn't look the part or understand the magnitude of the role. 

It's difficult to judge from a few images and short clips if the film would have been any good, but it certainly looked promising. As far as Momoa is concerned, he seemed genuinely disappointed that he never got to play the role, and even posted an apology on his Instagram account.

James O'Barr didn't want a reboot

If something is perfect, why mess with it? It's a question that haunts us all as Hollywood continues its incessant need to produce reboots and remakes of popular films. In the eyes of many fans, Brandon Lee will always be irreplaceable as Eric Draven, and no one should try to redo the part. "The Crow" creator James O'Barr revealed in an interview that's the main reason why he has been reluctant about pursuing a reboot — O'Barr considered Lee a friend and would never do anything to disrespect what the actor created.

"If you read the comic, Eric and Shelly never have their last names revealed," he pointed out. "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." O'Barr compared the role of Eric to Dracula, where there can be multiple adaptations of the same character — Gary Oldman's version of the bloodsucker can live alongside Bela Lugosi's without one taking anything away from the other.

Stephen Norrington's Crow reboot with ... Marky Mark?!

After bringing "Blade" to the big screen and turning vampires into ravers in the late '90s, Stephen Norrington was the director chosen to helm "The Crow" reboot in 2008. On paper, it made a lot of sense to get Norrington on board. At the time, Variety noted that the filmmaker was known for valuing creativity and integrity in his projects, with no reservations about walking away from productions such as "Clash of the Titans" if he felt the studio wasn't interested in making the same movie he was.

So who was Norrington's choice for the lead role? Mark Wahlberg. For obvious reasons, the onetime Marky Mark seemed a peculiar choice; however, Norrington told Variety that his version of the story would have been very different from the 1994 movie. "Whereas [Alex] Proyas' original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style," he proclaimed. Norrington departed the reboot in 2011, depriving the world from the opportunity to see Marky Mark as the Crow. Whether that was a blessing or a curse is up for debate, of course.

A director revealed that the producer might be the issue with the reboot

Producers can make or break films. If they're upfront about what they want, it's much easier for the filmmakers to come to the party and for everyone to be on the same page from a collaboration point-of-view. Unfortunately, in any creative field, there are just some individuals who always know better and make it impossible to get anything done because of their attitude.

Judging by how many writers, directors, and actors "The Crow" has gone through, one has to question what's gone wrong. While there were well-publicized money issues with the studio, F. Javier Gutiérrez hinted at another major underlying issue in conversation with Monkeys Fighting Robots. "'['The Crow'] has been unfortunately a movie that has had a lot of ups and downs in the last few years," he said. "That's why I had to depart the director's chair. But I think ... I mean the producer, he's pretty stubborn, and he's the one putting the pieces together ... Hopefully, we'll see it come together pretty soon."

The Crow reboot was meant to be set in the 1980s

Alex Proyas' "The Crow" came out in 1994 and perfectly encapsulated the era with its unforgettable soundtrack featuring the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, and Rage Against the Machine. However, James O'Barr revealed that the reboot was planned to take place around 1989 — closer to the time of the original comic book series' release.

Answering audience questions at the 2014 New York Comic Con, O'Barr said "It's a period film in the '80s ... It's not that old. I'm looking at some new bands that have that post-industrial sound — some depressing music." While it's unlikely that we will ever hear the soundtrack for that version of "The Crow," it's fun to speculate on which acts O'Barr might've been referring to. The likes of Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, and Killing Joke would all make sense, as they're staple post-industrial or post-industrial-adjacent acts that were active in the late '80s. In terms of contemporary bands holding down the post-industrial-adjacent fort, HEALTH pops to mind.   

Norman Reedus was almost a villain

Much has been made about all the actors linked to a hypothetical role as the Crow over the years, but there are other crucial characters in "The Crow" and its mythology, including Shelly, Top Dollar, and Funboy. In 2013, a report suggested Norman Reedus was being eyed for the lead role, while Kristen Stewart was a strong contender to be cast as Shelly, who was played by Sofia Shinas in the 1994 movie.

As it turns out, there was some element of truth to this rumor and also a little bit of the broken telephone syndrome. James O'Barr clarified the status of the castings at the 2014 New York Comic Con, explaining "At one point we were looking at [Reedus] for the Funboy character but ... 'The Walking Dead.' We looked into Kristen Bell to play Shelley, but scheduling conflicts." So, all in all, the Reedus link was fairly close but no cigar, while the sources must have gotten their famous Kristens mixed up.

Warner Bros. didn't appreciate Jason Momoa's weight loss

Ever since he first started turning heads as the merciless Khal Drogo in "Game of Thrones," Jason Momoa's been known to the public as an actor whose muscles have muscles. James O'Barr revealed that Momoa was so determined to play the Crow that he committed to dropping 50 pounds — a decision that didn't go down too well with the suits over at Warner Bros.

"I was supposed to meet him at a convention in Cleveland, but he had got called back to do 'Aquaman' reshoots and he had already lost like 25 pounds," said O'Barr. "Warner Brothers was not happy because nothing fit anymore, and there was talk of CGI-ing his muscles back in ..." The CGI muscles story might sound like a tongue-in-cheek joke or dig at the events of "Justice League," but considering mustache-gate, who knows if it wasn't something the studio seriously considered.

Ernie Hudson believes The Crow ended with Brandon Lee

The tragedy surrounding the production of "The Crow" is one that cannot be soon forgotten. The horrific accidental on-set death of Brandon Lee impacted every single person involved with the production. Director Alex Proyas in particular took a lot of convincing to go back to work as he had no desire to revisit "The Crow" after Lee's passing. Considering the circumstances and nature of the event, it's remarkable that the film even got released in the first place.

Ernie Hudson has indicated he believes the franchise should have ended after the completion of Proyas' movie, in light of what happened to his co-star. "I just thought Brandon [Lee] was The Crow and, as far as I was concerned, once he died and we went back to finish it, it was done in my mind," he said to ComicBook.com. "I know they've made others, but I've never seen them. Brandon was The Crow, and that's how I feel."

James O'Barr wasn't a fan of the sequels

Different filmmakers tried, but "The Crow" sequels never soared like the 1994 film. Not only did they get utterly ripped to pieces by critics, but they also failed to make any sort of splash at the box office. "The Crow: Salvation" and "The Crow: Wicked Prayer" both resonated more like midnight B-movies than entries in a major action franchise, with "Wicked Prayer" landing on home video with little buzz or fanfare. Undoubtedly, this was unlike the original film that cemented itself as a cult classic, received 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and pulled in over $50 million.

Don't blame James O'Barr for any of the sequels, though. He didn't want any part of that business. "I had nothing to do with any of the sequels — and was against them being made even," he told Nerd Team 30. "I mean, the first film had a definitive ending. There was no reason to make another film other than greed. But that's Hollywood. Anytime something's successful, they want more of the same." O'Barr also criticized the people who made the sequels for lacking a fundamental understanding of the core essence of what "The Crow" was really about.

Bradley Cooper only wanted to do The Crow with a specific director

Sometimes it feels like every actor in Hollywood has been mentioned as in consideration for the lead in a reboot of "The Crow." Unquestionably, some of the names dropped probably never even met with the directors or producers, but have been suggested by random Reddit users or appeared in comments sections of various internet articles. Many actors are reluctant to discuss their almost roles in well-founded fear that doing so might jeopardize their chances if the roles become available again. However, Bradley Cooper was rather forthcoming about how far he got into the discussions to star as the Crow.

In an interview with Empire Magazine, Cooper said, "We were talking about doing it because of Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, who I'm such a massive fan of. And then timing didn't work out. And then he just dropped out of it also." That's a clear sign for anyone wanting to get Cooper on board for "The Crow" reboot. All that's needed to get him to sign on is to ensure that Fresnadillo directs the film — it's simpler than putting together an Eric Draven Halloween costume with black and white face paint and the outfit you wore to the goth dance party last month.