By Arturo R. García
Not that remaking a cult classic like The Crow isn’t already a bad idea, but casting Bradley Cooper as the lead? That wouldn’t help, to say the least.
The fan attachment behind the film has endured because of both Brandon Lee’s performance as resurrected rocker Eric Draven and his accidental death during filming, which eerily echoed the demise of his father, martial-arts and film icon Bruce Lee.
And make no mistake: Lee owned this role, and not just because of action sequences that took full advantage of his martial-arts skills. In his final on-camera interview, Lee understood the challenge ahead of him, describing the Draven character as “a role that you have to take risks with. It gives you a wonderful opportunity to take those risks and stretch, because, you tell me how somebody who comes back from the dead is gonna behave.”
Familiarity seems to be behind both Cooper’s rumored casting – he starred in Limitless for Relativity Media, the company behind the upcoming reboot – and the retelling of Draven’s story. The character is the most enduring avatar of The Crow in pop-culture: he was brought back for the short-lived syndicated tv show Stairway To Heaven, where he was played by Mark Dacascos; and in 1999, Draven’s story was revisited by Image Comics.
But it’s important to remember, as Lee did, that Eric Draven is just one person. In both the comic-book world and a series of novels, many others were chosen for their own missions of vengeance. There’s other stories Relativity could have gone to for inspiration, and possibly garnered a new star for its’ stable, rather than relying on Cooper. But the actors chosen below work well either as Draven or some of the other characters featured over the years.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Fanboy pick? Perhaps. But Johnson, set to appear opposite Vin Diesel and company in Fast Five, already has cache in the action-movie arena, something Cooper lacks after the A-Team remake flopped at the box office. Like Cooper, Johnson is probably too old to play Draven – at least, Draven as a budding rock musician – but it’d be interesting to see him play Michael Korby, the vengeful figure at the center of Wild Justice, where Korby seeks revenge against someone who’s both served his time for killing him and is haunted by remorse for doing so.
Speaking of the Fast franchise and action-movie cred, Rodríguez would bring all the intensity needed to play Erica Draven, and then some. That same intensity would come in handy if she were to play federal agent Iris Shaw from Flesh & Blood, who not only tracks down the men responsible for killing her, but buries some of them alive. And as at least one Crow fansite mentions, Shaw’s trauma plays out on multiple levels:
The first female Crow proves to be perhaps the most brutal of the bunch … taking revenge to truly appropriate lengths. Iris is a tragic figure in more ways than one, having been pregnant at the time of her death. Thus, her quest for vengeance is driven as much by the pain of life unrealized as for one cut short. In this tale, the crow myth takes a different twist, as Iris is merely a reanimated corpse … unable to heal, and her time is running out due to damage and decomposition. Thus, unlike previous incarnations of the Crow, Iris is a true Zombie … and she lives up to that grisly moniker.
Harry Shum Jr. If anybody should be getting a shot to play a new Eric Draven, it’s Shum. Not only is he young enough, but 3Minutes has hopefully shown people that Shum can bust out with the action skills if need be. But more importantly, Shum might be capable of bringing to light Draven’s vulnerability, as well. That same quality would come in handy in playing Mark Leung from Waking Nightmares, who must balance his quest for revenge with a fight to save his kidnapped daughters.
Update: An earlier version of this column featured a photo incorrectly naming The League of Extraordinary Dancers’ Daniel “Cloud” Campos as Shum. That said … Campos could recreate the Draven “look,” couldn’t he?