So the topic of The Crow movie vs The Crow comic has been done a lot, so instead of just comparing the two, I wanted to focus on how the “Hollywoodization” of the film forces a more concrete, sympathetic story.
“Hollywooding” and medium
CineFix’s video “The Crow: What’s the Difference?” describes the major differences between the film and the comic as “Hollywooding” of the story. This includes raising the stakes, making Eric a more sympathetic character, etc.
Because of “realities of the film world,” as Brandon Lee (who played the main lead of Eric in the film) put it in a behind the scenes clip, changes had to be made to accommodate the change in medium.
It’s a movie. They had to condense the story and make it easy enough to understand in an allotted time, and have a character to root for. These are things that you don’t necessarily need in something less mainstream like the comic world.
Brandon Lee explained:
“we had the responsibility to fill in some gaps that weren’t necessarily there in the comic book because they’re different mediums, you know, you don’t have to tell a cohesive narrative story in a comic book—you can do a lot with images and leave a lot up to the imagination of the reader.”
The comic format offers a way to show metaphor, to jump through time and flashback, easier than film can. There’s a lot of really well done ambiguity throughout the comic that we ultimately lose in the film version.
Comic publishing history
There is, also, the publishing history to take into account.
The original comic couldn’t be published as intended just due to the way comics are… well, published. Page restrictions and printing space caused O’Barr to cut things. He added pages and chapters, most notably the “Sparklehorse” chapter, in the special edition of the book in 2011.
The movie is a retelling of the four main chapters of the comic. Sparklehorse is the closing segment of a metaphor that is at the very beginning of the first book. The metaphor and image is obviously not included in the movie, possibly for reasons I listed above.
Amidst all of the constant rumors of a remake of The Crow movie, I’ve heard most recently that they want to make a page for page faithful adaption of the comic, horse and all. This is possible because Sparklehorse now exists and it didn’t when the original movie came out in 1993.
It feels… much more complete now. Eric’s grief and guilt come full circle in the special edition of the book.
There was, reportedly meant to be another character from the comic in the movie version: the Skull Cowboy.
If you don’t feel like watching the video, the Skull Cowboy was meant to give exposition on the rules of how Eric Draven works and then later tell him that he would be stuck on Earth after he “strays from his mission” in avenging Shelley by saving Darla.
This is important because Brandon Lee was meant to make two more Crow movies as Eric Draven. But due to Lee’s unfortunate death, this is obviously impossible.
I imagine this meant having the Skull Cowboy somewhat pointless… (This is speculation on my part.)
So we have Myca, Top Dollar’s love and half sister there to bridge the gap between the realism and supernatural elements of the story. (Because she’s Asian. Of course she is. Sarcasm) They knew they needed to explain the crows powers somehow, and give Eric a weakness, a struggle he could overcome. That task went to Myca.
Sympathy and audience
Okay, so let’s talk about the big boy here.
Most fans know that the comic was originally created as O’Barr dealt with his own feelings of guilt and grieving. It’s significantly more hopeless than the movie version. The attack is random. Eric doesn’t have nearly as many emotional ties or support as he does in the film. He literally cuts himself.
From CineFix’s above video, on the topic of grief in the comic:
“It’s angry and hostile and literally indestructible until it runs its course. The only thing you can hope to accomplish is to be aware of the world around you enough to make at least something a little bit better.”
While the film depicts a much more hopeful Eric and, while it’s still a horribly sad situation, it isn’t senseless. He has friends in Albrecht and Sarah. (While he has Sherri in the comic, the relationship isn’t nearly as strong.)
Shelley was targeted because she was standing up against a crime lord. They weren’t just random people in the wrong place at the wrong time like they were in the comic.
“So while the book shows grief to be a destructive force that must be endured until its run its course, movie Crow confronts his grief, using it in order to finish his journey back to the grave.”
This goes back to medium, but I think more people can relate to the sympathetic movie Eric than the downright depressing comic Eric. The possible reality of comic Eric hits hard and… it’s scary and bleak.
CineFix uses the term “Hollywooding” in a bad way, but I think it actually helped to force a more succinct, accessible storyline while maintaining the emotions and capturing the spirit of the original source material.