[UPDATE: We’re added three new images and an international poster for Lone Ranger.]

It took longer (and cost more) than expected, but Disney’s Lone Ranger has finally finished production. The budget and scale is on par with latter installments in director Gore Verbinski’s and star Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, in part due to Verbinski’s desire to re-tell the titular horse-riding vigilante’s story ‘the old-fashioned way’ – shooting on location in desert regions around the Mid-West and transforming modern trains into operational steam engines.

Several new images have been released from Lone Ranger to mark the occasion – including, another version of the photo with the Ranger (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Depp) that producer Jerry Bruckheimer unveiled back when principal photography had just begun.

One element that jumps out – or, rather, continues to jump out – about Lone Ranger is Depp’s unorthodox American Indian outfit, which is modeled after Kirby Sattler’s famous painting “I Am Crow.” Moreover, as suggested by the new images, Depp’s stuffed crow headpiece appears to have supernatural qualities, judging by the changing position of its mouth and wings. It could be a carryover from earlier script drafts for Lone Ranger, which were heavy on American Indian mysticism – including, those infamous “supernatural coyotes.”

Verbinski, during an interview with USA Today, described Tonto as “an odd-shaman, an outcast from his own tribe, who has created his own mystical world.” That description recalls “Nobody” (Gary Farmer), another unusual American Indian with his own spiritual beliefs, who travelled with Depp’s meek accountant William Blake in the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man. Moreover, in a bit of self-reflexivity, it reflects Depp’s own efforts to honor his heritage, as the actor is said to be at least one-quarter Cherokee.

However, the Lone Ranger director refrained from revealing whether or not Tonto’s headpiece does, indeed, have life of its own, other than to say “It’s his companion. It’s a stuffed bird that he feeds birdfeed.”

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The other major issue worth considering about these Lone Ranger screenshots is the emphasis on trains and development of railroads, as was highlighted during the teaser shown at Disney’s Comic-Con panel this year. Verbinski confirmed this is an essential element to his re-framing of the Ranger legend:

“All the traditional westerns are about choice and the individual. When progress comes it’s much more difficult to define the individual in that world. The train represents all of that. What do we give up in the name of progress?”

Lone Ranger, for sure, won’t be your average summer blockbuster, between that philosophical content and a narrative that turns the traditional Ranger story on its head, transforming it into what Verbinski calls “a dysfunctional buddy movie.” The film appears to be his attempt to subvert western tropes, much like Pirates of the Caribbean did for swashbucklers; how successful Lone Ranger proves to be from an aesthetic and cultural standpoint, remains to be seen – though, we won’t bet against the film at the box office.

The Lone Ranger cast includes Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper, W. Earl Brown, and William Fichtner. Look for it to gallop into theaters on July 3rd, 2013.

Source: USA Today