The Crow reboot has stalled again with both star Jason Momoa and the director, Corin Hardy, bailing from the project. And they were five weeks away from beginning production. This isn’t the first time, either. Work on an updated Crow picture halted previously over the last few years when Luke Evans, Bradley Cooper, and Jack Huston were attached at different times in the main role.
You might not believe in curses, but the string of bad luck facing The Crow at every turn is enough to make a believer out of the most hardened skeptic. Misfortune follows this property as a whole. Brandon Lee’s tragic death wasn’t the beginning or the end; it was the most attention-catching incident in a bigger maelstrom.
The history of The Crow, from its inception as a graphic novel to its development as a motion picture series, reads like the kind of dark and salacious drama that would be the script of one of the movies — and there’s been a few. A lot of facts concerning their beleaguered backstories don’t get much press: here are five you might not know.
5. There have already been four movies
Even the untimely death of Lee didn’t stop sequels from happening. The first and most memorable of them was Crow: City of Angels in 1996. Written by David Goyer and directed by Tim Pope, they sought to tell a new story and give fans exactly what they wanted. The action was brought to a smoky, rundown Los Angeles where Sara from the preceding film (played by Mia Kirshner) now lives working as a tattoo artist. Somehow she has a psychic connection with the new Crow, Ashe Corvin (Vincent Perez), who was killed along with his son after witnessing a drug deal gone bad.
Pope’s cut of the film was over two hours and told a personal journey of loss and redemption that was more than simple revenge. Producer Miramax (and a certain Weinstein) was displeased so it was cut down into the theatrical version available today which bombed and is derided as a dud.
There were two more sequels, Crow: Salvation and Crow: Wicked Prayer, starring Eric Mabius and Edward Furlong respectively. The less said, the better, so long story short: they try to recapture the essence of the love story in the first one but are riddled with flat performances and are formulaic and mediocre at best.
4. The short-lived TV series
In between parts two and three, a show was made for syndication named Crow: Stairway to Heaven. It starred martial artist and Iron Chef host Mark Dacascos in the role Brandon Lee died portraying, Eric Draven. Running one season from 1998-1999, Stairway to Heaven recycles beats from the first movie in a toned-down, campy fashion. Eric’s still a musician killed in his loft with his girlfriend Shelly by a gang working for mobster Top Dollar. He comes back to dispatch Dollar, but remains in this world going on further adventures righting wrongs. Aiding him are his quasi sidekicks Sara and Detective Albrecht, the investigator of his murder.
While trading on the familiar, the series had charm and managed to add a few fresh twists to the mythos. Eric had a door to the afterlife he used to see and communicate with Shelly, who became a recurring character. She became a guide and voice of reason for him, and so did the spirit of a sort of shaman (whom we will get to). There even was a divide between Eric and his vengeful Crow personality teased; at times, he was in conflict with it and it taunted him like a split personality. At the same time, another dark version of Crows was introduced called Serpents and so was a female Crow, a character who teamed up with Draven in the last few episodes.
Crow: Stairway to Heaven set itself apart in a big way and won an audience. Ratings were good and there could have been a second season but the show unfortunately couldn’t escape the curse. A stuntman died in an accident while filming and producers wound up canceling it after Universal bought them. A proposed TV movie that was to act as a send-off never happened. While an acquired taste, the soundtrack, featured at the end of each episode, is worth a listen. A pre-Smallville Remy Zero and Fuel before they broke big are among the artists plugged.
3. The Skeleton Cowboy
The first film is an undisputed classic of modern cinema but might have looked different if director Alex Proyas kept one thing. A Grim Reaper-cum-guardian angel type of being from the graphic novel named The Skeleton (or Skull) Cowboy was planned to appear. Played by Michael Berryman of The Hills Have Eyes, The Skeleton Cowboy was meant to watch over Eric and send him on his mission. Due to time constraints and a clash of tone in his presence, the subplot was cut from the film. A version of the Cowboy ended up in Stairway to Heaven, and little nods to the character are scattered throughout the Day of the Dead festivities in City of Angels.
2. Tragic life of an artist
James O’Barr is the writer and creator of The Crow and tragedy started following him long before his comic became a film franchise. O’Barr grew up in the foster system and prior to his success in the world of comics, he joined the Marines. This was after his fiancee was killed by a drunk driver. He wrote The Crow as an outlet to channel his grief and loss. When the book was finished, it didn’t do much to lessen his pain, and it would be seven years before it found a publisher.
Publication and later being optioned for a movie, of course, barely improved life for O’Barr. If it wasn’t bad enough, Brandon Lee was shot and killed during filming; he and O’Barr actually became friends on the set. No one deserves the sadness of losing two people in their life to senseless accidents that could have been prevented, let alone when it involves your greatest creation.
1. Never scene again
One of the most notorious capturings of a fatal moment ever has an interesting backstory of its own. Some people think they can spot the point where Brandon Lee was shot but there’s no way. The sequence in question, while filmed, never made it into the final print. In fact, the footage was confiscated for use in the investigation surrounding the incident and was subsequently prohibited from being seen by the public.
Existing copies are locked away and have only been seen by the Lee family, investigators, and people involved with the production. What we do know is the prop gun used was jammed by a very real projectile and the lethal shot was fired by the actor who played Funboy, Michael Massee. Massee fled from acting afterward and didn’t talk about the accident publicly for 10 years. His last on-screen appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2 as the mysterious Gentleman. He passed away from stomach cancer in 2016.
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