Gore Verbinski‘s meandering take on The Lone Ranger wasn’t the first modern take of the masked man on film. Released in 1981 amidst negative backlash for the movie’s producer suing actor Clayton Moore to prevent him from appearing in public as the character he played on television, and the bad press of having a difficult unknown actor whose voice had to be dubbed for The Lone Ranger‘s words to be understood, the film never really stood a chance.
Here’s the thing about the much despised The Legend of the Lone Ranger – it’s actually not a bad movie. And it’s certainly a tighter and more complete origin story than Verbinski’s version. Yes it’s cheap (especially compared to the money thrown around in the new version), but it’s far more faithful to the source material (including John Reid meeting Tonto as boys and the real reason John was shipped off East) than this new version. It also has the feel of a western rather than just another big budget Hollywood action film accidentally stuck in the Old West.
After some success taming the high seas, director Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp reunite for this new interpretation of The Lone Ranger. The meandering 149-minute tale is more than a little liberal in its depiction of the Masked Man and his faithful Indian companion. Those looking for a classic western may be disappointed as Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger is an action-adventure similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean that just happens to be set in the Old West.
The entire film is framed from Tonto’s (Depp) perspective, as a far older version of the character (Depp in some pretty good old-age makeup) relates the legend of The Lone Ranger to a young boy (Mason Cook) at a Wild West show. Much like The Princess Bride, at times the tale is interrupted for more interaction between the narrator and his captive young audience. The choice to give us the legend from a trusted, but not necessarily trustworthy, source and allows us to choose how much of Tonto’s story to believe.
In another stand alone tale, the Lone Ranger and Tonto’s travels take them to the Northern Colorado Territory where the pair take on Melton Coy who makes his money by selling Chinese women to the discerning buyer, for the right price. After scoping out the operation undercover, the Ranger and Tonto ride into town to take down the entire operation.
Before the day is done the women will be freed and on their way with enough silver to begin their new lives far from the town which allowed such wickedness to continue and is burning to the ground behind them.
The issue works well providing a villain that almost makes the Lone Ranger loose his temper. There’s also a couple of nice scenes where the Lone Ranger earns the womens’ trust first through his badge and later through a single silver bullet. That final piece also ties into the issue’s opening scene at an Antiques Roadshow where a woman with family heirloom and a legendary story about her grandmother’s grandmother adventure with a masked man helps set the stage for what follows. For fans.
The Lone Ranger #12 is a fitting, if uneventful, conclusion to the “Native Ground” arc from Ande Parks and Esteve Polls. The Lone Ranger returns to the Ute tribe with their healer, a Mormon woman who spent many years with the tribe as a slave and eventually a medicine woman, after being betrayed the the Native American warriors.
By the end of the issue the Masked Man will have his faithful companion back at his side and a far better understanding of the loss which still haunts him. Although the arc doesn’t give us any more of Tonto‘s backstory, such as continuing his tale to the fateful day at Bryant’s Gap where he came upon a single surviving Ranger in the midst of a slaughter, the arc does conclude with the Ranger growing to know the person who has become his truest friend a little better.
The arc lasted a little too long for my tastes, so I’m glad to hear the comic is following “Native Ground” with a series of one-shot issues featuring the adventures of Lone Ranger and Tonto. For fans.