Home Movie News Bill Skarsgard is a spirit of vengeance in ‘The Crow’
Bill Skarsgard is a spirit of vengeance in ‘The Crow’

Bill Skarsgard is a spirit of vengeance in ‘The Crow’


1994’s The Crow is regarded as a seminal action movie. Not only did director Alex Proyas bring a new gothically charged sensibility and style to the genre, but it served as the tragic final role for the beautiful and gifted Brandon Lee, who died in a freak accident on set. The film stands as a fitting tribute to Brandon’s talent and character, and anyone who watches it falls under its incredible power.

Now, more than 30 years later, James O’Barr’s The Crow is set to return to cinemas courtesy of director Rupert Sanders, and we’ve been lucky enough to be treated to some first-look images of the story. And it’s going in a radically new direction.

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Speaking with Vanity Fair and discussing the project, Sanders said, “what drew me to this was the opportunity to make a dark romance, something that dealt with loss, grief, and the ethereal veil between life and death and reaching through that,” says Sanders, he also adds in a quippy tone of voice “look, I grew up listening to Joy Division and the Cure, and this movie is a bit like a Cure song—the beauty of melancholy.”

Since the 1994 film and the four sequels that followed, many filmmakers have tried to resurrect the project and break new ground with a host of different actors circling the role, including Mark Wahlberg, Bradly Cooper, Luke Evans, Jack Huston and Jason Momoa, who were all tipped to star in the film before Bill Skarsgard was cast (his elder brother Alex Skarsgard was at one time also a heavy contender for the role), and the result looks radically different.

Sanders is completely aware of the reaction that will arise from fans of Brandon Lee’s work in the original film, and he himself is a fan. He clarified his vision with the 1994 saying, “Obviously, it was a terrible tragedy, and it’s definitely something that we’ve always had in mind through the making of the film,” he says. “Brandon was an original voice, and I think he will always be synonymous with The Crow, and I hope he’s proud of what we’ve done and how we’ve brought the story back again. His soul is very much alive in this film. There’s a real fragility and beauty to his version of the Crow, and I think Bill feels like he is a successor to that.”

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Sanders has also said that his film, unlike the 1994 version, will have its romance at the forefront of the picture, compared to telling it in flashback, and that the vengeance will kick in during the second to third act. Sanders has done this as he wants to build and explore the love story between Eric Draven (Skarsgard) and Shelly (FKA Twigs), to not only give the story more emotional relevance but also to give it a new tempo and rhythm.

Of the chemistry between Skarsgard and Twiggs, Sanders commented, saying, “I never did any tests between Bill and Twigs,” says the director. “I had them for dinner when they first arrived [on set] in Prague and I was a bit like a nervous parent looking to see if there were any sparks, because you don’t know. And they were great. They hung out and were straight into it.”

Obviously, the design of Eric’s new ‘Crow’ loom will also take audiences by surprise, and again, this is a conscious choice on behalf of Sanders to try something different and new, and that he drew on experiences from his own life to give the character a new look.

“I think the beauty of Bill is that he has a disturbing beauty, and as he transforms through his loss he becomes this thing that even he can’t control. It’s that famous line: ‘Whoever fights monsters must be careful that they don’t become one.’ That look was me in the ’90s when we were squat-raving in London, [mixed with some modern influences] like Post Malone and Lil Peep. I hope people who are 19 today look at him and go, ‘That guy is us.'” That image captures the beginning of his transformation into the Crow. “It’s the moment we realize bad things are coming.”

Here’s the official synopsis:

Soulmates Eric Draven (Skarsgård) and Shelly Webster (FKA Twigs) are brutally murdered when the demons of her dark past catch up with them. Given the chance to save his true love by sacrificing himself, Eric sets out to seek merciless revenge on their killers, traversing the worlds of the living and the dead to put the wrong things right.

But what’s my take on Bill Skarsgard’s new look as Eric Draven? I’m intrigued. When you first look at his Eric, it’s a jarring thing to see, as Brandon Lee’s image as Eric Draven has been with us for the last thirty years, and as one of my top ten films of all time, I wasn’t expecting this new look. But on contemplation, I’m very impressed and excited to see what comes next. Yes, fans will chatter with the words’ hard pass’, but it feels like Sanders is deliberately not trying to give us a rehash of the first film, and instead looking to find new avenues and expression from the original text.

The look and style of this adaptation feel different from the original film, and I think that’s important and, in all actuality, very exciting. It’s different, it’s new, and this isn’t us diving back into the 1990s goth culture, but Sanders exploring how this character could look and be like in a contemporary setting.

I also believe fans need to be patient with this picture and view Sander’s The Crow as a new adaptation of James O’Barr’s cult graphic novel. I think there’s a special kind of beauty and interest there, and an elevation that The Crow, first published in 1989 by Caliber Comics, is now verified as a great work of literature and seeks other artists who want to adapt it in their own style in voice, but also honouring the source material.

How many adaptations of Romeo & Juliet and Dune, or even Batman or Spider-Man, do we have, each with their own artistic style and merit, and all of which make an impact on the audience? I think if we view this Adaptation of The Crow in this style, we’ll get something interesting, and I’m keen to see what comes next.

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The Crow will arrive in cinemas on June 7, 2024.