Stephen Norrington has signed to write and direct a reboot of The Crow. Fans of the original may feel like rioting, because Norrington’s take isn’t a gothic antihero.
Norrington has had a dizzying career for adaptations from the page to the big screen. After his excellent breakthrough of Marvel Comics’ character, Blade, Norrington did a 180 when he took on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and it turned out awful. Sean Connery hasn’t made a film since (he actually turned down a role in The Matrix due to his experience with League), nor has the director. Although he made a deal to direct Clash of the Titans for The WB, he left because he was “unable to excite Warner Bros. with my take, or influence the screenplay to any comfortable extent.”
Now that Incredible Hulk director, Louis Leterrier, is moving forward with that project, Norrington has set his eyes on butchering The Crow.
Based on a comic created by James O’Barr, The Crow was first interpreted by director Alex Proyas in 1994. Before directing the most excellent Dark City, Proyas brought a gothic tone to the story of rock musician Eric Draven – who is murdered while attempting to rescue his fiancee/girlfriend from a beating and subsequent rape. A year later a crow stands on Eric’s tomb and he is somehow resurrected. He then proceeds to avenge the murders of a year ago. The original has become a cult classic, grossing nearly $100 million worldwide; but it is also marred by a tragic accident with Brandon Lee: He was mysteriously shot and killed during filming. Norrington hopes this story will resurrect his own career.
He had been working on independent projects when an approach to The Crow came from Relativity Media’s production chief Tucker Tooley and Ed Pressman. Pressman and Norrington have a history which involved almost making Mutant Chronicles some years ago. Ryan Kavanaugh (of Relativity) is negotiating with Pressman to acquire the franchise and finance the reboot. Norrington’s interpretation has been embraced by both Tooley and Pressman, and he has said:
“…whereas Proyas’ original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style.”
I’m not sure what Norrington’s vision of The Crow could possibly be without being “gloriously gothic and stylized.” As of late, “realistic, hard-edged and mysterious” are terms being thrown around to describe nearly everything coming out. “Dark” is also a term frequently used since the success of The Dark Knight, but envisioning The Crow without the gothic tone is more than just not worth seeing – it’s unfaithful to O’Barr’s original black and white vision of the inner city. The Crow has become an icon and comparisons ranging from wrestling gimmicks (well known wrestler, Sting) to Heath Ledger’s Joker are rightly warranted. Norrington is not fit to handle this material and I hope this project is haunted until he decides to destroy some other source instead.