Lone Ranger rides again! Will Disney’s version be as wholesome as the TV show?

Commentary by Braxton Rickert
Times-News correspondent

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer star in "The Lone Ranger." / kinopoisk.ru

“The Lone Ranger” debuts on Wednesday and enters culture as not only Disney’s latest entry into its media empire, but also as the newest representation of an icon. The Lone Ranger has definitely made an impact on American culture, especially with the television show starring Clayton Moore in the 1950s.
As a symbol for justice, the Lone Ranger became a role model for children across America. His values inspired many children growing up. There have been different attempts to reimagine and remake this story throughout the years in film form, though not very successfully. And now, Disney is trying to bring the masked hero to today’s audiences.
But one concern I have is whether the new movie will be able to capture the adventurous yet rustic charm of the Clayton Moore series that made the character so memorable.
    The Lone Ranger was “the good guy” and always fought for what’s right, but never to kill or painfully injure. But when viewing the new trailer, I wonder if those values are upheld in the new movie. The trailer was entertaining and seemed to represent a big action-packed blockbuster; I counted four separate explosions alone. But “The Lone Ranger” was never about fast-paced action and stunning special effects. It was about the fight for justice.
However, explosions, violence and mind-numbing special effects are what sell in Hollywood today.  And nobody knows this more than Disney, the studio that has helmed the Marvel and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchises, both of which have been successful. But will the new “Lone Ranger” movie fall into that category?  Will Disney change The Lone Ranger in order to cater to action-hungry audiences?
Hollywood has changed franchise values before, in other modern versions. Take the 2009 movie “Star Trek,” for example. While the original series of the same name was known for its emphasis on morals and ideas, the new Abrams movie was cited by critics as being based in intense action in replacement of such ideals. The icon of the mysterious Lone Ranger is built upon morals of goodness and justice. The stories that starred him were noted for a simplistic vision of good versus bad.
But does the Lone Ranger have a place in today’s cinema?
As can be seen with Disney’s Marvel movies, superhero movies today are action-packed blockbusters that can draw in billions of dollars. But like “Star Trek,” the values and themes from older series and movies can also be changed in order to accommodate today’s culture. I wonder if  “The Lone Ranger” will fall into this trap. Perhaps all those explosions in the preview indicate a new thrilling version of the masked hero. Or perhaps it is a sign of a new movie that is more brawn than brain and will not honor the icon that so infiltrated American culture.

 Braxton Rickert is a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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