The Crow Reboot Recalls ’90s Comic Book Adaptations, Not in a Good Way

The first trailer for The Crow seems to pull a lot from comic book movies of the 1990s, including being embarrassed about comic book movies.

Bill Skarsgard and FKA Twigs in The Crow
Image: Lionsgate Films. Photo: Lionsgate

Everything about the first trailer for the reboot of The Crow looks familiar. Sure, some of that is to be expected, as the 2024 movie retells the story from the 1994 cut classic. And yes, The Crow 2024 does make some obvious choices, casting Bill Skarsgård as a weird tall skinny guy and Danny Huston as a bad guy.

But besides the paint-by-numbers approach that director Rupert Sanders seems to be taking with the property, the really familiar part is The Crow‘s approach to comic book adaptations. Those young enough to have listened to the soundtrack to The Crow back in the ’90s will remember that the current pop culture landscape seemed impossible 30 years ago. Only the most recognizable superheroes got translated to live-action, and even then received a radical make-over, sanding down all of the colorful comic book aspects and stuck into a standard action flick.

In the pages of the comic book miniseries released in 1989, writer and artist James O’Barr presented the resurrected Eric Draven’s Crow costume as an edgy variation on mime make-up with a pale face, stylish black lines across his face, and tight black clothes. It wasn’t the flashiest thing in the world, but it was distinctive enough to standout amongst a sea of costumed heroes and villains in the comic book shop.

In the 1994 adaptation, Brandon Lee wore the requisite black leather and duster combo expected of the era’s action heroes, but he matched it with a comic accurate mime look. Other comic book characters weren’t so lucky. For the Dolph Lundgren direct-to-video film The Punisher, Frank Castle lost his death’s head logo (relegated to a knife he employed) and just walked around in the standard tough guy look. Before the X-Men lost their yellow spandex for the 2000 movie, the tv series Generation X put Emma Frost and Banshee in cool street wear instead of their recognizable tights.

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Even those who got to keep something like a costume lost their super heroic motivations. Sam Hamm and Warren Skaaren’s script for 1989’s Batman plays out like a trope-filled revenge thriller, complete with a climax atop a building for some reason. Blade has lots of fun with its blood-sucking elements, but Wesley Snipes doesn’t feel that different from the characters he played in Boiling Point and Passenger 57.

In short, comic book movies of the era felt less like comic books and more like action movies, with some recognizable names thrown in. The internet has already made fun of some of the, uh, stronger choices made by the costume designers on The Crow, especially that nipple eye on his chest.

But the most disturbing thing may be the lack of distinction in Nü-Crow’s look. He does not feel inspired by comics as much as he feels like a regular guy who happens to like ink on his body. And the supernatural element is present only to the degree that he can take punishment, without having other superpowers.

The Crow 2024 comes at a point in which superhero fatigue has set in. We’ve had plenty of deep-cut characters in comic accurate costumes, and will get more with Deadpool & Wolverine this summer. But while comic book movies absolutely need to change and update to meet this fatigue, going back to being embarrassed about the source material isn’t the solution.

The Crow releases to theaters on June 7, 2024.

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