Thoughts of: Hi Yo Silver!

With a thunder of hooves and the cry of “Hi Yo Silver, Away!”  Disney’s, “The Lone Ranger” has hit post production.  With Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp backing it, you’d think it would be easy.

It hasn’t been.  Delays and budgets have dogged this movie since its inception.  It’s scheduled for a July 2013 release, but was originally expected to be out back in 2010.  Johnny Depp has pushed for the movie and threw in a good chunk of his own money to give it the budget he felt it needed.  Just don’t expect to see him behind the mask.  Johnny Depp is playing Tonto.  In fact, his whole push for the movie was to build up the Tonto character.

The whole reason I wanted to play Tonto is to try to [mess] around with the stereotype of the American Indian that has been laid out through history,” he said. “…especially Tonto as the sidekick, The Lone Rangers assistant. As youll see, its most definitely not that.  Entertainment Weekly

It makes me worry though about The Lone Ranger himself.  What are the plans for the character?  Johnny Depp was quoted as saying he wanted the Lone Ranger to be a “loveable fool”.

Huh?  What does he mean by that?

He did try to explain by saying he did not want the Lone Ranger to be a buffoon.  A clown bumbling around like an idiot.  That’s good.  Nothing would kill a movie and create more anger towards Johnny Depp than destroying an iconic character like the Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger is a character that seems to have some sort of karma attached to it.  Clayton Moore was THE Lone Ranger and it seems that every movie and television show made after him crashed and burned with the intensity of a nuclear bomb going off.  It happened so often, you almost expected it and wondered how it would hit the next version?

The only format I saw survive this “curse/event” is the comic book by Dynamite.

Dynamite Entertainment's The Lone Ranger #4 co...

Dynamite Entertainment’s The Lone Ranger #4 cover. Art by John Cassaday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lone Ranger comic was a reboot of the movie in the way the Lone Ranger was perceived.  While still seeking justice for those that killed his brother and fellow rangers, the writers made the character darker than Clayton Moore’s rendition. It was this darkness that caused the biggest amount of grief for the comic.

There’s a scene in the comic where the Lone Ranger loses his faith.  (It happens right after burying his brother and the other Rangers.)  He breaks into a store and gets drunk.  That enraged many of the Clayton Moore Lone Ranger fans.  I was lucky enough to have a great conversation about this with the gentleman that runs the “Clayton Moore, The Lone Ranger” website.

His childhood hero was Clayton Moore as The Lone Ranger and hated how Dynamite Comics soiled the memory as well as the larger than life character.  To him, the Lone Ranger was and is the cowboy version of Superman.  A symbol of higher humanity that we can all aspire to.  I had debated that the comic version was more realistic and showed how we as humans could overcome our personal doubts and demons to become more than what we are.  In the end we decided that our viewpoints we completely opposite of each other and politely agreed to disagree.

This is the tightrope that Bruckheimer and Depp have to walk in their new movie.  You can not take an icon like The Lone Ranger and make him a fool.  What you can do, though, is make him naïve.

When the Lone Ranger first joins the Texas Rangers, he is young and just out of their version of the academy.  (If they had such a thing back then.)  His father and brother were both already Texas Rangers, so you can give him an overly romanticized view of what it means to be a ranger.   You can also fill his head with thoughts of King Arthur and being a modern knight of the round table.  (It’s why cowboys would turn their spurs down when walking on the wooden sidewalks in town.  The “Ching-Ching” seemed like the sound of metal armor clinking as knights walked by.)  Add to that the power of “The Great American” dream as told by politicians and dime novels of the time and that would be an acceptable viewpoint for the young Lone Ranger to have.  To be this great, larger than life person that all good Americans should strive to be.  Tonto would be the other side of the coin.  He represents the great American that lived here for centuries that gets unceremoniously swept aside by the new comers and their progress.  Tonto has skills and knowledge that is disregarded at first and then is not only accepted but desired as the two characters become partners.

Basically the movie becomes a classic cop/buddy movie set in the old west.

In this format you get to keep the Lone Ranger as the guy striving to be better than he is every day and Tonto gets to be a great teacher who passes on ancient American traditions to a new group of people.  Both get to represent the best of their cultures.

May we all get that chance.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts of: Hi Yo Silver!

  1. Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels were an outstanding team. If the new guys have half as much chemistry, the movie will be a huge success.

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