As the Lone Ranger has officially failed at the box office there have been numerous article floating around the Internet that are analyzing the various impacts that it will have on the film market, disney’s bottom line, and the future of Armie Hammer and Westerns in general. Those are all interesting topics but they haven’t been rattling around my head all weekend.
The burning questions that appears to be inescapable is why am I not going to see the Lone Ranger? I’ve gone to see movies that I knew were going to be crappy. I’ve even enjoyed some of them. Christ, I even went to see X-men Origins: Wolverine after I saw the pirated copy just to see if they’d actually kill Deadpool. I regretted going to the theatre but I still went. Was the Lone Ranger film really that bad that I wasn’t even going to witness it? Was it so offensive that I couldn’t handle sitting in a darkened theatre to consume it? Apparently so. That was the first conclusion that I came to. That’s when I wrote the first article entitled ‘I Won’t Be Going To See The Lone Ranger’. Really complicated, probing title. I know. No need to applaud.
Be the Lone Ranger kept popping up all weekend. I’d see a billboard, of which there are many of here in L.A., and I’d think to myself maybe it won’t be that bad. I’d brush off the impulse and carry on my daily routine. Then I’d see another advertisement and think, ‘C’mon. You saw Green Hornet.’ But I couldn’t talk myself into it. During a long car ride to Venice this weekend I discussed why we weren’t going to see the film and my ultimate conclusion is simple. I didn’t go see the Lone Ranger film that cost $225 Million to make because he wasn’t in the baby blue tracksuit.
I didn’t go see the Lone Ranger because he wasn’t the Lone Ranger. Let me elaborate. There was no iconography on display. Not once in the trailers did you see John Reid on a bucking silver, back-lit by the sun, they never showcased the silver bullets, and they discarded the baby blue tracksuit/costume/thing for an all black suit. In theory it could work. It would be a stripped down, back to basics version of the Lone Ranger story. A Batman Begins for John Reid. Lose the theatricality of justice and employ a more grounded, gritty version of one of the greatest American myths.
Well, they didn’t do that. They just dumped all the iconography that would have got me to pity-view it and opted for over the top Pirates of the Caribbean style set pieces and characters.
I fully realize that this film was intended to be Pirates Origins: WolviRanger but ditching the character’s costume and utilizing the standard ‘i’m cool cause i’m wearing black’ think is so creatively chickenshit that it’s almost mind-boggling when viewed in context. Like I said, if the film had been a gritty origin story and focused on the realities of life in the old west. Boom. Done. Sure. Ditch the blue/gray old man pajamas and focus on how dang difficult it is to make bullets out of silver. But they didn’t do that. They made Pirate Origins.
I’ve been wanting a Lone Ranger franchise for a long, long time. I love the character, I love the idea of him, and I love the idea of putting Gore Verbinski and Bruckheimer on the job. I just wish they would have taken a few extra minutes here and there to assess if the were really approaching things in the correct way.
I’ve had multiple people, when I bring of the lack of Baby Blue Tracksuit, retort that ‘it cant be done on screen’. That’s just fundimentally not true. It started on screen in the TV show in the 50s. It looks great. It looks functional and it’s fun. It’s the perfect blend of utilitarian and theatrical, I think. It makes sense. I’m not sure why it makes sense, or why the Lone Ranger is where it, but it works for me. It just does.
This is a similar design concept to Superman’s underoos. I get it. There’s no real reason for them to exist anymore because the strongman iconography that they were originally based on has lapsed from public consciousness. But the absence of them is equally distracting. All during Man of Steel I found my eyes settling on Henry Cavill’s junk because his costume looked bizzar without the unifying element of the red underoos. It’d be like getting rid of Spider-man’s webs. Sure you don’t NEED them. You could just have a red and blue suit, right? Of course you can. And Bendis and Bagley did it in Ultimate Spider-man and guess what? It was weird because it’s a jarring deviation from a culturally accustomed cocktail.
The Lone Ranger’s baby blue/steel gray onesie/biking outfit/tracksuit/whatever the fuck it is happens to be really important to me. It’s a functional costume. It’s clothes but they’re not standard ‘cowboy’ fare. Both the Lone Ranger and Tonto wear them in the old show and both as a kid and an adult I LOVED them. They’re just as iconic as the various neon colored spandex costumes that every other iconic American super hero.
Long story short, the fact that the Lone Ranger jettisoned the iconic visual element kept me from the theatre.