After what feels like a short eternity of production delays due to a budget which (at one point) had inflated to over $250 million, Gore Verbinski’s unorthodox Lone Ranger movie has at last begun principal photography. Verbinski is reuniting with his Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy star Johnny Depp on the flick, which features Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Mirror Mirror) as the titular gunslinger, and Depp as his more capable sidekick Tonto.

Lone Ranger producer Jerry Bruckheimer (also a Pirates franchise alum) has tweeted the first image of Hammer and Depp in costume. As you might imagine, Hammer as the masked John Reid looks conventional enough while Depp as Tonto looks like… well, a very “Depp-ish” take on the traditional American Indian character.

Here’s the film’s official synopsis, followed by the aforementioned image of Hammer and Depp in costume:

“The Lone Ranger” is a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice—taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

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While few people might’ve predicted the specifics of Depp’s Tonto outfit (especially the stuffed bird on his head), is there anyone who’s genuinely shocked to see the actor will be donning unusual makeup and strange body decorations in Lone Ranger? After all, Jack Sparrow’s eccentric look was also personally fashioned up by Depp.

NOTE: As some readers have pointed out, Depp’s Tonto getup may not be as unprecedented or bizarre (at least, in terms of historical accuracy) as one might think at first.

Case in point: check out this artist’s rendition of a Dakotan American Indian in traditional attire, and compare it to Depp’s outfit:

Artwork by Kirby Sattler (KirbySattler.com)

Verbinski previously promised that Lone Ranger will be “photo-real… a complete stepping back over the fence from ‘Rango’,” but that doesn’t mean the former is going to be a fully (if at all) grounded western adventure. Considering that an earlier draft of the film’s screenplay featured “supernatural coyotes,” an elaborate animated sequence, and other seeming incongruous elements, it stands to reason that Lone Ranger could feel more like the third – and overall most peculiar – of the Pirates films, At World’s End, rather than a comparatively down-to-Earth western like, say, 3:10 to Yuma (for better or for worse).

The Lone Ranger rides into theaters around the U.S. on May 31st, 2013.

Source: Jerry Bruckheimer