So, Disney picked up the rights to do a new movie version of The Lone Ranger, and I've got to admit, I'm intrigued.
I've always had a soft spot for The Lone Ranger. Some of my earliest conscious memories of television are of watching the classic Clayton Moore/Jay Silverheels TV series on Sunday mornings before church. It was always followed up by that Canadian children's TV classic The Forest Rangers. When I was about 12 years old and first got cable, I remember catching the old Filmation cartoon on YTV.
I mean, the Lone Ranger is just a classic. It's such a simple good vs. evil tale. The good guy literally wears a white hat. It's high adventure on the high plains. It's just...nice.
But it was in 2008 when Disney announced that they'd picked up the movie rights, and when they made they announcement, they also announced their first casting choice: Johnny Depp as Tonto. Right there, I was baffled. I mean, dude, Johnny Depp isn't First Nations. But then it was revealed that Depp is, like, one-quarter Cherokee, so I guess it's OK.
Jerry Bruckheimer was brought on to produce, and he quickly started recruiting the team that made the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who wrote the Pirates of the Caribbean films, were brought on board to write. Gore Verebinski, who direct the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the Oscar-winning animated film Rango, was hired to direct. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
And now, the rest of the cast. They already had Tonto, but they need the masked man himself. Eventually, they turned to Armie Hammer, currently best known for playing the Winkelvoss twins in The Social Network. Also rounding out the cast are veteran character actor William Fichtner signed on as Butch Cavendish. Cavendish is the outlaw who killed Texas Ranger Dan Reid and attempted to kill his brother and fellow Ranger John Reid. Reid, of course, survived, was nursed back to health by Tonto, and decided to become the Lone Ranger to avenge his brother's murder and bring law and order to the Old West. Helena Bonham Carter also joined the cast as a friendly barmaid.
The film has already made headlines. Back in August, Disney announced they were halting production the film, because it was getting too expensive. It's budget had ballooned to $250 million. To which the whole world said, "What? Why the hell does a Lone Ranger movie need to cost $250 million?" To which Disney said to the world, "Why, it's for the special effects to bring the werewolves to life."
W. T. F.
Werewolves? In a Lone Ranger movie? The Lone Ranger doesn't fight werewolves! He fights cattle rustlers and stagecoach robbers. Not werewolves! I remember an early script review I read online, in which it said that Tonto is on a bit of a spiritual journey in this film, as he believes his brother to have been killed by a Wendigo, and is on the hunt for this mythological creature. Did Wendigo become a werewolf?
But still...werewolves? Really?
Anyway, they got the budget down to a much more reasonable $215 million and once again the production was a go.
And, yesterday, Disney released the first official photo of Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto.
The Lone Ranger looks a little different. Usually he's adorned in blue. Not so sure I'm crazy about the "man in black" look. And Tonto...the war paint and the raven headdress definitely makes him stand out. When it comes to the outfits of the Lone Ranger and Tonto, this is definitely untraditional.
The film's not scheduled to come out until May 2013...a full year and a half away. So it's still going to be a while before we get a trailer. But still, there's enough that's come out of this to just make me scratch my head and wonder what the heck Disney is thinking.