Comic-Con 2013: We Talk to Javier Gutierrez & James O’Barr About The Crow Reboot!

ON ran into two familiar faces on the show floor of the San Diego Comic-Con today: James O’Barr, creator of “The Crow,” and Javier Gutierrez, director of Before the Fall and helmer of Relativity’s forthcoming reboot of The Crow.

Of course, I had a lot of questions to ask the duo: Beginning with the obvious, “Why reboot the property for the big screen?” – especially given the television series and sequels that followed the Alex Proyas/Brandon Lee film.  O’Barr – who recently came on board as a creative consultant – and Gutierrez had some interesting things to say.  Things that might please fans of the source material.

Luke Evans plays Eric Draven in the reboot; head inside for our interview.  You can also check out a larger version of The Crow Comic-Con poster inside!

Shock Till You  Where is the project at?

Javier Gutierrez:  We start prepping in October – we’re in soft prep now.

Shock:  Clarify the capacity of your involvement, James…

O’Barr:  Well, all of the details haven’t been ironed out other than creative consultant.  But what brought me around after 20 years was Javier.  Before talking with him, I was 110% against it.  There was no point or need for a reboot.  In my mind, you could throw a $100 million at it, put Johnny Depp in it and had Ridley Scott direct and it wouldn’t top what Alex Proyas and Brandon Lee did.  I explained all of that the minute Javier arrived, “Remaking the movie was a terrible idea and you’ll never work in American again.”

Gutierrez: [laughs] He did.

O’Barr:  Brandon was a friend and I’d never do anything that hinted at betrayal.  But what Javier told me was that he wanted to go back to the source material.  Be as faithful as possible which would make it something entirely different.  Proyas’ film is stunning and stylized.  I mean that in a good way.  Nothing negative about it.  Going back to the original book and keeping it grounded and realistic and dirty and gritty, it really appealed to me.  Even so much as to carrying over the visual metaphors like horses and trains – where the street signs always say No Exit or One Way.  Exploring it with a different attitude appealed to me.

Shock:  And what was your pitch?

Gutierrez: I love the story and I told them I’d do it because I love the story, but it’s not a remake of the original.  It’s a new interpretation.  Of course, we have to fill some parts and new elements, but there was so much beauty and passion to the original.  A lot in there we could do that was never done.  That’s the main thing that captured my attention.  We can do something original.  The darkness, the beauty, the violence and love.  That’s what got me excited.  A lot of fans responded to the original movie, but this is going to be different.  This is going to give them some good gifts.  We’re going to pull some stuff from the original comic that’s going to be tough and we’re going to do it in an original and artistic way.

Shock:  How does Luke Evans fill your needs to pull that off?

O’Barr:  He’s never really had a leading part.  He’s always been a supporting character.  There’s no baggage there.  Much like Tom Hardy, he can become anything he wants to become.  He’s not Bruce Willis who comes with a package.  It’s the John Wayne curse.  John Wayne is going to be John Wayne in whatever film he makes.  I like the idea that Luke has done so many different types of roles. 

Gutierrez:  The character of Eric is so complex.  He’s going to be sensitive when the love story comes in and it’s going to be dark when the violence comes in.  You have to buy that cocktail of emotions and to find an actor that can balance that in his soul and eyes is tough.  He has to have that range, we need an actor.  Not somebody with a pretty face.  I was very lucky to get Luke.  We have a good actor that can put his soul into it.

Shock:  Fans want to know about the make-up and a while back we leaked photos with early Crow make-up…

Gutierrez:  That was before me.  That’s another time.  It’s behind us.

O’Barr:  They were showing me pictures of actors in the make-up and I came across Luke Evans and I said, this is the guy.  He has tragedy written all over his face already.  The make-up magnifies this.  He’s got this tortured look.  It’s in his eyes.

Shock:  What was Luke’s initial reaction when he had the make-up on?

Gutierrez:  He loved it.  He’s not only actor with range, but his features work.

O’Barr:  Physically, he’s got a chiseled face.  It amplifies his eyes.  There’s deep sadness in there I recognized immediately.

Shock: The Crow movie is a milestone for me growing up.  The soundtrack, the style, it all represented a time in my life and now we’re seeing a reboot for a new generation.  So what is it about the property that endures?

O’Barr:  It’s one of those books…  The book’s been in print since ’89, so it’s getting close to 30 years.  I thought all of my fans will grow old with me and that will be the end of it.  But no, it gets passed down generation to generation.  It’s still, to this day, fully 60% of my core audience is 16-year-old goth girls and I’m like, “You weren’t even born when it came out, how do you know about it?”  And they’re boyfriend suggested it to them or their dad introduced it to them.  A second generation is affected by it.  The themes of true love and romance play to the girls and the justice part – on page or on the screen – plays to the men.  I had this theory that when every girl turns 15, she has to read The Crow and own two Cure albums to make it through her first period.

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