‘The Crow’ Remake Shouldn’t Exist (but I also don’t want it to fail)

Making another version of The Crow was always going to be controversial, but it didn’t have to be.

The Crow (2024) might be a fine film, but poor decisions were made in its creation.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Controversy

Eric Draven holds his hands out to his side during a climactic scene in The Crow (1994).
As explained below, it is impossible to separate the character of Eric Draven from Brandon Lee in the minds and hearts of many fans.

As I write this, a new version of The Crow is set to hit theaters in a few months. If you’ve been on the internet at all recently then you’ve surely at least heard about it. Entertainment sites immediately started posting reactions to the trailer when it was released online by Lionsgate on March 14th. Some outlets called the trailer and the movie it represents “a soulless Hollywood abomination.” Others chose to “remain hopeful.” The Crow (2024) is certainly divisive, and not without good reason.

The debate surrounding The Crow, from the look of it to its very existence, has also been hard to avoid on social media. People are quite passionate about it in certain circles. As a huge fan of the 1994 movie and of the original comic books by James O’Barr, I too had a strong reaction to seeing Eric Draven brought back in a new incarnation. My initial reaction to the trailer was similar to the thoughts I’ve had ever since the idea of a remake came into existence many years ago: this movie shouldn’t be made.

Bill Skarsgård holds his hands to his sides in The Crow (2024).
Bill Skarsgård is great, but he has a daunting task trying to win over fans of the 1994 film.

So if I had such a strong reaction, why didn’t I write something about it sooner? Well, the main reason is that I needed time to think about my response and understand why my first thought when watching the trailer was, “I don’t want this.” Was it the look, the tone, the general idea of it? But reacting emotionally, as so many people have done already, would’ve added little to the overall discourse. So instead, I’ve taken time to gather my thoughts, and I’ve crafted what I hope is a measured and articulate argument for why I believe that The Crow (2024) should not exist in its current form, but also why I hope that it doesn’t become a flop.

I Am Biased, and That’s a Good Thing

Eric Draven with a sad smile on his face in The Crow (1994).
As a fan wonderful movies like Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991) and Rapid Fire (1992), I was a fan of Brandon Lee before The Crow.

Before I get into my reasons for not wanting this movie, I should be upfront with you. I am about as biased as a fan can be. If you check my Letterboxd account, you’ll see The Crow (1994) is in my top four favorite films. It’s never left my top four. That’s because I adore The Crow, and I have loved it since it came out in 1994. I believe it to be a near-perfect film for the type of story it is trying to tell and the style of filmmaking it is trying to convey. The movie introduced me to the Crow comics which I also hold in reverence. I could go into detail about why I think the 1994 movie and the original comics are so great, but this isn’t meant as a review. I just mean to say that I’m a big fan of the originals, which should provide context for where my thoughts are coming from.

I’ve seen a number of commenters on social media dismiss people’s negative reactions to The Crow (2024) if it’s obvious that they’re enthusiastic fans of the original movie. It’s as if some people think commenting about a film should be a purely objective activity. Emotions are good when it comes to movies. Movies are emotional by design, so it makes sense that people will get worked up when a movie they love is remade, rebooted, or reimagined. Of course, sometimes people can (and do) take their love of a film too far, but developing a reasonable and healthy attachment to a movie is part of why we watch. Thoughtful reasoning can absolutely come from that.

Arguments AGAINST The Crow I Don’t Support

As revealed in the 1994 book The Crow: The Movie by Jeff Conner and Robert Zuckerman, James O’Barr based the look of Eric in the comics on Bauhaus’s Peter Murphy for his face, and Iggy Pop for his body and movements. Bill Skarsgård could absolutely pull off that combination if they’d wanted him to look like Eric from the comics.

Many people besides me have expressed their displeasure with the new version of The Crow, and some of them are also saying the movie shouldn’t exist. While I obviously agree with the overall sentiment, I don’t necessarily agree with all of their reasons. Some people don’t like the look of what we’ve seen so far, especially despising the costuming decisions for Bill Skarsgård’s Eric Draven. On principle, I don’t mind the tattooed look. It’s not what I would have chosen, but it doesn’t bother me. For a random character in an action/revenge movie, the look is fine. But he is supposed to be Eric Draven, so I can see why people are perplexed with the decisions that were made.

Eric Draven looks towards Albrecht in The Crow (1994).
Some might try to say that Brandon Lee doesn’t look like Eric from the comics, but that’s hardly accurate. Brandon studied the books so he could get the look and mannerisms of the character down. If you look close enough, you can even see a faint scar from his left eye and across his nose which is straight out of the comic.

As for the look and feel of the trailer as a whole, I will agree with the detractors who say it looks very modern (some have compared it to John Wick) and has little to do with the look and feel of Alex Proyas’ 1994 film (not that it should, but it’s a natural point of comparison). The original movie was dark, damp, grimy, and stylized in a particular way the made it feel like a black & white comic come to life. It’s a visually impressive movie filled with meaningful cinematography and editing. Without having seen the 2024 film yet, it’s hard to compare the two. I’ll just say that the trailer for the upcoming movie doesn’t look like it has a particularly unique visual style. It looks like a modern action/revenge movie. Which, again, is fine. But I’ll have to wait until the full movie is out before forming a full opinion on the complete look.

A crow made of flames burns in The Crow (1994).
The visual style of The Crow (1994) is consistently excellent throughout.

And of course, some people are against any and all remakes. I’m not one of those people. As a general rule, I don’t think any movie is off-limits for a remake. Some of my favorite movies have had remakes that are extremely good. Evil Dead (2013), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Friday the 13th (2009). All great movies with great source material. But I do think that some movies are so uniquely perfect for what they are that they don’t need a remake, and the world of cinema would be better off without making an attempt at one. These movies have something special about them that should cause any filmmaker to pause and think about the reasons why they think a remake would be worthwhile. The Crow (1994) is one of those films.

Arguments FOR The Crow I Disagree With

Supporters of The Crow (2024) sometimes make the point that since the sequels and TV series exist, then a new movie should be fine with everyone. This ignores the fact that none of the movie sequels are about Eric Draven. It also fails to acknowledge that many of the reasons for not wanting the new film overlap with the reasons why many people aren’t interested in the 1998 TV show.

Some people will say that The Crow (2024) is not a remake of The Crow (1994), so fans of the first movie shouldn’t be upset. They’ll say it’s a new adaptation of James O’Barr’s comic books. The director of the 2024 version, Rupert Sanders, even said in a press release that his movie “goes back to that graphic novel by James O’Barr.” Though that might be the intention, the 2024 movie would not exist in the form that it does if the 1994 movie never happened.

A panel from the 1999 comic book remake of The Crow.
The original comic books were remade in a 1999 comic version of The Crow by writer Jon J. Muth, but even that takes some cues from the 1994 film. (art by Jamie Tolagson and Mark Nicholas)

A few technical details that show that the 2024 movie takes elements from the 1994 version. First is Eric Draven’s name. He is just known as “Eric” (and occasionally “The Crow”) in the original comics. No last name is given, and the brief glimpse we see of his last name on a police file is obscured, showing only that the letter “s” is probably the final letter of his surname. “Draven” comes from the movie, and it is used again in the 2024 adaptation.

Shelly Webster wearing a pink outfit in The Crow (2024).
Shelly didn’t have a last name in the original comics either. Like “Draven,” the surname “Webster” was created for the film. Both names were then used in later Crow comic books and in the TV series. (pictured: FKA twigs as Shelly Webster in The Crow, 2024)

Also, the trailer for the upcoming film shows Eric’s body healing from a shotgun blast (you have to look closely). In the comics, Eric’s body doesn’t heal. Bullets and blades can’t kill him, but he carries the wounds they inflict all the way to the final panel he appears in. The healing factor was created for the 1994 film. So, the new movie is using pieces from the comics and the movie, and there are probably other examples we’ll see when the full movie is released. That makes it, at least in part, a remake. If it were a complete re-adaptation of the comics, then you might expect it to be as close or closer to the books than the 1994 film. But the trailer for the 2024 movie indicates that its story will be even further removed from the comics, while integrating pieces of the 1994 film. Therefore, comparisons are inevitable and not unreasonable.

Sarah sheds a tear in The Crow (1994).
Some of the verbiage used in the trailer, the “put the wrongs things right” speech, is adapted from the 1994 film (narrated by Sarah), not from the original comic books.

For the sake of argument though, let’s just say that The Crow (2024) is mostly a new adaptation of James O’Barr’s original story. If that’s the case, then there should be no problem with the movie, right? After all, books get re-adapted all the time. Well, James O’Barr has spoken about this very thing in the past. In a 2014 interview at the Wizard World Richmond convention, O’Barr answered questions about his involvement as a consultant for a remake of The Crow which was to star Luke Evans, but ultimately never got made. He stated that the movie was described to him as a “page-for-page adaptation” of the comics, and not a remake of the movie. He was fine with that. Most importantly though, O’Barr was assured that the main character of the new adaptation would not be Eric Draven, but would be another version of the Eric character from the comics (the one with no last name as described above).

A looter played by James O'Barr steals a TV as everything burns in The Crow (1994).
In a Q&A session from 2024, James O’Barr responded to a question about new film adaptations of his work, saying “I cash the check, that’s about it.” He appears to be taking an approach similar to John Carpenter and the Halloween franchise, which, frankly, is a good way to be. (pictured: James O’Barr in his cameo in the 1994 film as a looter)

The name “Draven” wouldn’t be used in that movie, which, in James O’Barr’s reasoning, meant that the new character would be just that, a completely new character. When asked about “fans who think Eric Draven died with Brandon Lee” and what people might think about a new version of the character, O’Barr responded by saying, “No one understands that fear more than me. Brandon Lee was a friend, and I’d never do anything to hurt his legacy.” He went on to say, “Luke Evens may play Eric, but Brandon Lee will forever be Eric Draven.” Official marketing material for The Crow (2024) shows that Bill Skarsgård will definitely be playing Eric Draven, and that’s at the root of the issue.

Why I Think The Crow Remake Shouldn’t Exist

Eric Draven sits on a fire escape in The Crow (1994).
Shannon Lee, Brandon Lee’s sister, said of the new film and the new Eric Draven, “No one likes to see someone’s legacy brushed over by something else. It’s a beloved character so I understand why they continue to make it. But I think my brother’s performance will always stand.”

My main reason for not wanting this new version of The Crow involves Brandon Lee. Brandon poured his heart into the role of Eric Draven. The director of The Crow (1994), Alex Proyas, has often spoken about how involved Brandon was in the process of creating Eric Draven, and the film as a whole, for the big screen. In the book The Crow: The Movie (1994), Proyas is quoted as saying, “[Brandon] contributed a great deal to the finished film, far beyond what is expected from an actor in any normal situation.” Proyas continues, “More than anyone involved in the film, Brandon was my sounding board regarding many aspects of the film, even scenes that didn’t involve his character.”

Proyas also says in the commentary on the movie’s home video release that Brandon took the characterization of Eric Draven personally. Brandon looked to the comics for inspiration on how to move, and many parts of the costume and makeup were done—or at least modified—by Brandon himself. Why was he so dedicated? It could partly be because he seemed to really connect with Eric Draven. In interviews conducted before or during the production of The Crow, Brandon said, “I don’t know if I was destined to play this role, but I feel very fortunate to be doing so.” He also called it “the best role I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands on in a film.”

Sarah receives a hug from Eric in The Crow (1994).
Rochelle Davis, who played Sarah, retreated from the public eye after Brandon Lee’s death before eventually attending conventions and taking a few acting roles beginning in 2009, saying in an interview from 2018, “I had been hiding for fifteen years.”

Another big reason why Brandon was so dedicated to the role is because he saw The Crow as a huge opportunity for himself as an actor. Watching Brandon speak about his movies, it’s clear that he was passionate about his chosen profession. It is also apparent that he wanted to make a name for himself as an actor beyond being Bruce Lee’s son and an action star. He always showed nothing but love for where he came from, but it was obvious that his passion was in the acting side of the movie business. Authors Jeff Conner and Robert Zuckerman wrote in the book The Crow: The Movie, “Brandon saw the role of Eric Draven as his breakthrough role, one that would lift him from the martial arts film world.” The Crow indeed was Brandon Lee’s breakthrough film, but, tragically, it was also his last.

Brandon Lee passed away in a hospital just hours after an on-set accident involving a gun. He died as a direct result of filming The Crow, and that means something. It means a lot to a lot of people. Michael Massee, the actor who fired the gun that killed Brandon, took a year away from acting to deal with the tragedy, saying in an interview from 2005, “I don’t think you ever get over something like that.”

Officer Albrecht leans in as he talks to Eric in The Crow (1994).
Ernie Hudson said in an interview published by The Hollywood Reporter, “I can’t watch The Crow. It breaks my heart, and I can’t get past it.”

Eliza Hutton, Brandon’s fiance at the time of his death, didn’t speak publicly about Brandon’s death until nearly 30 years later. After the shooting on the set of Rust that killed Halyna Hutchins and injured Joel Souza, Eliza Hutton released a statement to People saying, “Twenty eight years ago, I was shattered by the shock and grief of losing the love of my life, Brandon Lee, so senselessly. My heart aches again now for Halyna Hutchins’ husband and son, and for all those left in the wake of this avoidable tragedy.” And there are undoubtedly many other stories of pain that we’ve never heard about, but which also have ever fully healed.

For Alex Proyas, the director said in an interview from 2016, “I finished the film because Brandon’s family wanted me to. It was literally the only reason I went back to the film several months after the accident.” The Crow was Brandon’s passion, and the film was completed to honor his work, his being, and his legacy. Considering the amount of himself he put into Eric Draven, that character belongs to Brandon Lee. That should be respected, for Brandon, and for the people whose lives he touched.

Eric Draven walks into a church in The Crow (1994).
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Alex Proyas wrote that The Crow “is not just a movie. Brandon Lee died making it, and it was finished as a testament to his lost brilliance and tragic loss. It is his legacy. That’s how it should remain.”

Because The Crow (1994) is inextricably tied to Brandon Lee and his legacy, the character of Eric Draven—not the Eric with no last name from the comics, but the Eric Draven inhabited by Brandon Lee—should not be brought to the screen again. The fact that the TV series The Crow: Stairway to Heaven uses a version of Eric Draven as its main character is the biggest reason why I’ve never watched it, despite being a gigantic fan of the expanded lore of The Crow. The usage of Eric Draven in The Crow (2024) is also why I don’t think that movie should exist in the form that it does. Besides, there’s such an easy way to make nearly the exact same movie, and still call it The Crow, without stepping on the legacy of Brandon Lee…

Just Make The Crow a Different Character

Hannah Foster in episode 15 of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven.
The Crow: Stairway to Heaven has multiple people who come back from the dead, like Hannah Foster (pictured here, played by Bobbie Phillips).

One of the great things about the mythology of The Crow is that it isn’t just about one character. In the movies and in the comics, the identity of The Crow isn’t just one person. In 1996, the comic book miniseries The Crow: Dead Time, which James O’Barr wrote with John Wagner, was released. The Crow: Dead Time isn’t about Eric, it’s about Joshua, a new person brought back from the dead who goes on a mission of vengeance. That same year, the film The Crow: City of Angels was released which features another undead character, Ashe Corven. From there, both the comics and the movies created many new “Crow” characters over many years.

Ashe Corven walks in front of fire in The Crow: City of Angels (1996).
Vincent Perez played a completely new character, Ashe Corven, in The Crow: City of Angels (1996).

Why am I bringing up a fact that anyone who knows about The Crow is probably already aware of? Because this is the second half of the reason why The Crow (2024) shouldn’t exist in the form that it does; It would be the simplest thing in the world to just name Bill Skarsgård’s character (and FKA twigs’ character) something, anything, else. It fits in with the lore of the franchise, and it would eliminate the biggest sticking point that many fans have with the remake. If it’s not Eric and Shelly, it can still be The Crow, but it will be a completely new story which can still honor the themes of the comics.

Iris Shaw from The Crow: Flesh and Blood.
Personally, I’d love to see Iris Shaw and her story from The Crow: Flesh and Blood be adapted into a movie. (artwork by Alexander Maleev)

People might say that the 2024 movie is already sufficiently different from the 1994 version, but if that’s the case, why reuse the names? If it’s a different story and there is already ample precedent for introducing new lead characters, then why use the names made famous specifically by the 1994 film? I hate being cynical, but from my perspective it looks like the main reason for using the name “Eric Draven” is for the name recognition it adds to the film. Name recognition leads to more eyes on the movie, which potentially leads to more money. But isn’t using the title The Crow recognizable enough? This is the first Crow movie in nearly twenty years, and it stars Bill Skarsgård. People will go see that.

Eric Draven points in The Crow (1994).
Part of the reason for using Eric Draven and not another character could also be because of the controversy it would stir up. Hopefully that isn’t the case, but there’s no way the studios were unaware of what Brandon Lee and his character mean to so many people.

As an example, look at something like the Evil Dead franchise. Evil Dead (2013) was released just over twenty years after the previous movie, Army of Darkness (1992). The newer movie wasn’t about Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams, but it retained essentially the same title as the original film in the series, The Evil Dead (1981). The 2013 film made almost $100 million worldwide. It was a success, and it didn’t attempt to reuse a beloved character. So, using the title of the film but not the original character from that film is proven to work. And with all the compelling reasons for not using Eric Draven again in a movie, The Crow (2024) should not have used him.

Why I Don’t Want The Crow to Fail

Bill Skarsgård as Eric Draven in The Crow (2024).
If there are more Crow movies after this one, and they decide to bring Eric Draven back again for sequels, that’s when I’ll lose all hope in the reboot.

If you’ve made it this far, it should be abundantly clear why I oppose the idea of The Crow (2024) in its current form. With everything I’ve written, it might sound strange that I don’t actually want the movie to be a failure. This feeling isn’t a contradiction though. I find it nearly impossible to root for any movie to flop. I love movies, and I want people to make the movies they want to make. I’ve read comments from the director, Rupert Sanders, and from Bill Skarsgård, and they both appear to have the best of intentions. I have no reason to doubt that their reasons for making the movie are genuine, and the same goes for the rest of the cast and crew. I don’t want them to have a flop, but I can also disagree with the decisions they made. Obviously, I strongly disagree.

As for the studios involved… I don’t know. They have to look at the money more than anyone, and that can lead to cold, calculated decisions. I’m not saying anyone is intentionally trying to ignore the legacy of the 1994 film, but, as I explained above, it does feel like certain choices were made while looking away from that legacy and towards the bottom line. An article published on Deadline quoted one of the film’s producers who spoke about looking at The Crow “in a very 360 way, whether it be video games, an animated series or a universe.” That sounds scarily like the movie is being positioned as a property, as content, rather than as the emotional, personal stories created by James O’Barr, Alex Proyas, Brandon Lee, and everyone else involved in those original works of art.

Eric Draven stands inside a church in The Crow (1994).
When asked in an interview conducted on the set of The Crow about if he thinks the movie will start a franchise, Brandon Lee responded, “I hope not. It’s a very self-contained story.”

But even though I feel this way, I’m not interested in a boycott. People should watch what they want to watch. Plenty of people will disagree with my stance on The Crow (2024), and that’s fine. I hope it’s a good movie and people enjoy it. I also hope that at least a few readers come away from this article with a better understanding of why some of us who are disappointed with the decisions made for the movie feel the way we do. It’s about honoring the memory of someone we care for as fans, combined with the fact that it would change almost nothing about the new movie if the characters simply had different names. It would actually open it up for the filmmakers to be more creative and expansive with their movie. It’s incredibly frustrating for many people, including myself.

But I love the mythology of The Crow. Selfishly, even though I’m not terribly interested in it and likely won’t pay to see it in a theater, I hope that The Crow (2024) succeeds enough so that we will get more films using its mythology. The movie is happening regardless of what any of us say, so I’d rather have the studios believe that people enjoy the idea of it, but not the specific story they’ve chosen to tell. Then, hopefully, we will get a new Crow movie that is completely different, with brand new characters and a wholly original story line.

Eric Draven's image is repeated in three mirrors in The Crow (2024).
Please don’t turn Eric Draven into a recurring character in a franchise. Just move on.

Creating something new within the world of The Crow may the best way to honor the legacy of Brandon Lee. Don’t try to recreate or reimagine the work contained in the original comic or 1994 film. They’ve been done, and nothing else in the franchise is going to top them. So, don’t repackage their efforts for a new generation, regardless of how much or how little resemblance it has to the originals. Create new stories that build off their work. Establish new characters for new fans. Allow new actors to inhabit roles they can make completely their own. Let new writers tell personal stories of love and loss. Take The Crow in different directions that will connect with as many people as possible. Don’t look backward, look forward while remembering and honoring the past.

Eric smiles as a flashlight illuminates his face in The Crow (1994).
Looking forward while honoring the past is actually one of the themes in The Crow (1994) when Eric helps Sarah finally move past the pain of losing Eric and Shelly.

After writing all of this, and while still being disappointed with the new movie, I know that Brandon Lee’s performance will never be forgotten. The 1994 film ends with Sarah saying, “If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them.” The Crow (1994) is loved by many, and watching that movie is how Brandon Lee lives on in our hearts. That will never go away.

Meet The Author

Chris has a degree in film studies at Temple University’s campus in Tokyo, Japan. He is a renowned expert on horror cinema.