The Crow Reboot’s Controversy & Original Director’s Comments Explained

The Crow reboot has generated quite a lot of controversy, especially with the original film’s director, Alex Proyas. The reboot is being helmed by the Ghost in the Shell (2017) director Rupert Sanders. It and Barbarian star Bill Skarsgård is playing the lead role of Eric Draven, a musician who comes back to life in order to avenge his own death, as well as that of his fiancée. The reboot has had a troubled production, spending nearly 14 years in development hell before filming finally commenced in the spring of 2022, with a reported budget of $50 million. Post-production on The Crow reboot then began in September 2022.

Much of the backlash to The Crow reboot concerns the accidental death of Brandon Lee on set, during the production of the original 1994 film. Many people, including Proyas, believe that rebooting The Crow is disrespectful to Lee’s memory as they treat the original film as a tribute to the talent of the late actor. Others believe that The Crow reboot is okay, as the character did not originate with Lee. Either way, Skarsgård has the difficult task of following Lee’s final – and exemplary – performance.

Why Some Argue Rebooting The Crow Is Okay

Some argue that rebooting The Crow is okay, despite Lee’s death, due to the character’s origin as a comic book character. The Crow began life as a comic book character, debuting in Caliber Presents #1 in January 1989. The character was created by writer and artist James O’Barr. The reboot is also considered as a re-adaptation of O’Barr’s comics, rather than a strict remake of Alex Proyas’ supposedly cursed The Crow movie. This adds a degree of separation to The Crow reboot when compared to the original.

Sequels to the original The Crow movie already exist. There are an additional three films in The Crow franchise, not counting the upcoming reboot, with three separate actors taking up the mantle of The Crow: Vincent Pérez, Eric Mabius, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s Edward Furlong. However, all three of The Crow sequels were received terribly by critics, with 2005’s The Crow: Wicked Prayer considered the very nadir of the franchise. A TV series, titled The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, was also aired in 1998, starring John Wick: Chapter 3’s Mark Dacascos as Eric Draven. This means that another actor has already played Draven, following Brandon Lee’s death.

In contrast to The Crow’s despised film sequels, Stairway to Heaven actually received somewhat positive reviews. Despite that, the show was canceled after only one 22-episode long season. This was partially due to another accidental death on set, in a similar circumstance to Lee’s death during the production of The Crow; stuntman Marc Akerstream was killed when flying debris struck his head during a special effects explosion on August 15, 1998. Considering the incredibly negative reception of the sequels, and the short-lived television show, it’s perhaps appropriate for The Crow, a franchise with a major theme of resurrection, to be rebooted.

What The Crow’s Original Director Thinks Of A Reboot

The director of the original The Crow movie, Alex Proyas, is strongly against the reboot. Speaking on a podcast in 2019, Proyas explained that he has tried to quash reboots of The Crow, due to his viewing of the movie as the legacy of Brandon Lee. The director claimed that, despite Eric Draven’s origins on the page, Brandon Lee truly brought the character to life. He also stated that he only completed The Crow, after production was shut down due to Lee’s death, due to the quality of Brandon’s performance. Proyas believes that any attempt to remake The Crow is disrespectful of Lee’s legacy.

Despite saying that he has attempted to stop The Crow remake, Proyas professed that his objections had no impact on the reboot’s troubled production. In 2008, the director of the original, iconic 1998 Blade movie, Stephen Norrington, began development on The Crow reboot. Norrington, who initially planned to write and direct, outlined that his version of The Crow would be a completely different beast to Proyas’. Norrington wanted to film it almost like a documentary, in stark contrast to the original’s gothic stylization. However, he left the reboot in 2011 and has not directed a feature film since.

Following Norrington’s 2011 departure, the role of director on The Crow reboot has also been a revolving door of talent, with many other talented filmmakers previously attached. These include 28 Weeks Later’s Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and The Nun’s Corin Hardy. Since development began on The Crow reboot in 2008, many actors have also been cast as Eric Draven, including Mark Whalberg and Aquaman’s Jason Momoa. Despite the notability of these actors, all eventually departed The Crow reboot before filming began. It was only after the casting of Bill Skarsgård, and the hiring of Rupert Sanders as director, that cameras actually rolled on The Crow reboot.

Bill Skarsgård Has An Impossible Challenge In The Crow

In portraying Eric Draven in The Crow reboot, Bill Skarsgård has an impossible challenge to try and overcome. If Skarsgård attempts to honor Lee’s portrayal of Draven, it will completely debunk claims that The Crow reboot is an adaptation of the comic, rather than a remake of Alex Proyas’ movie. If he either makes the role his own or takes his cues from the comics, it will inevitably attract criticism that his performance is nothing like the original movie. It’s a real catch-22 for Skarsgård, and a possible behind-the-scenes reason as to why so many actors before him, such as Bradley Cooper, have left The Crow reboot.

One of the few good decisions that The Crow sequels made was to create a different character to become the titular vigilante in each film. This made those sequels easier to swallow for audiences, given Lee’s death, even if it did not save them from being critically reviled for other reasons. Although Eric Draven has previously been played by an actor other than Brandon Lee, Mark Dacascos in The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, Bill Skarsgård’s performance will be far more in the public eye and under much more scrutiny than Dacascos was. However, given Skarsgård’s talent as an actor, it’s possible that The Crow reboot could overcome the controversy.