Love is forever.
"People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can't rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right."
— Sarah, from the movie version
"It's not death if you refuse it... It is if you accept it."The Crow
— Eric, from the comic version
is a franchise of comic books, films, novels and a television series based on a comic by James O'Barr that he wrote over several years but was first published in 1989. There is a basic formula - a protagonist who suffers wrongful death, usually along with one or more loved ones, comes back from the dead for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge
and is guided by a spiritual entity in the form of a crow - but the finer details vary from text to text.
In 1978, a drunk driver killed James O'Barr's fiancée, Bethany. O'Barr later heard a story about a couple killed for the woman's twenty-dollar engagement ring. The two incidents became one in O'Barr's mind, leading him to write The Crow
, in an attempt to work out his angst over the incidents.
The comic book was adapted into a film in 1994. The film is a cult classic, much of its fame unfortunately deriving from the accidental death of its lead actor, Brandon Lee.The Crow
, the comic, tells the story of two lovers, Eric and Shelly, who are brutally attacked by a street gang after their car breaks down on the wrong side of Detroit
. Shelly dies at the scene, and Eric manages to hang on until he gets to the hospital but expires on the operating table. A year later, Eric reappears. Guided by a sardonic talking crow that perhaps only he can see, Eric tracks down the gang members one by one and kills them in increasingly creative and brutal ways, never stopping until they are all dead and he can go to his eternal rest.The Crow
, the film, tells the story of two lovers, Eric and Shelly, who are brutally attacked by a street gang as punishment when Shelly protests against tenant eviction in an area of Detroit
run by a crime lord. Eric dies at the scene, and Shelly manages to hang on until help arrives, but dies after several agonising hours at the hospital. A year later, a spirit guide in the form of a crow - as in an actual real bird, and although it shares a psychic connection with Eric it does not talk - summons Eric from his grave. Guided by the crow, Eric tracks down the gang members one by one and kills them in increasingly creative and brutal ways, never stopping until they are all dead and he can go to his eternal rest.
In short: in the comic it is possible that many (or even all) of the events do not happen the way we see, or perhaps only happen in the character's mind. O'Barr was deliberately ambiguous about it all. The better-known mythology about a crow being the spirit guide who takes souls into the afterlife but brings them back to "put the wrong things right" when necessary, and the crow being an actual bird that if injured or killed will drain Eric's mojo, was an Adaptation Expansion
created for the film.
In the comic there is absolutely no exposition regarding exactly how Eric has returned from the grave - if that's even what actually happened. The mythology of the film franchise is so much better known than the ambiguity of the comic that there are plenty of people - plenty of fans, even - who just assume that "Eric is brought back from the dead by a mystical crow" is part of the original comic, when basically everything that happens in the comic is up for individual interpretation and never explicitly stated.
For further information about the comic (and subsequent comics) and the film (and subsequent films), and tropes used therein, please go to the pages for those works.The Crow
caught lightning in a bottle — the author committed his Creator Breakdown
to print as it happened — and as a result, it proved impossible to replicate. Fan response to the various subsequent works in the Crow
franchise has varied greatly, from enthusiasm to hostility. As with any franchise that evokes a strong emotive response in the fans, especially one where a tragic death early on is involved, the mileage always varies.
Plans to reboot/remake The Crow
as a film have bounced around Hollywood in recent years, however, none of these plans have come to fruition.
Please list tropes on the pages for various works.
Works in this franchise:
The Crow comic books include:
The page for the original comic and subsequent comic books can be viewed here
- The Crow (1989), Kitchen Sink Press, graphic novel edition by Tundra Press
- The Crow: City of Angels (1996), Kitchen Sink Press, three-part adaptation of the film
- The Crow: Dead Time (1996), Kitchen Sink Press
- The Crow: Flesh and Blood (1996), Kitchen Sink Press
- The Crow: Wild Justice (1996), Kitchen Sink Press
- The Crow: Waking Nightmares (1997)
- The Crow: A Cycle of Shattered Lives (1998) (an anthology including shorts based on the previous KSP comics)
- The Crow (1999), Todd McFarlane (a 10-part "reboot" featuring the original character)
- The Crow: Death and Rebirth (2012), IDW Publishing
The films in the Crow franchise to date are:The page for the film franchise can be viewed here
Novels in The Crow franchise to date are:
The page for the novels can be viewed here
- The Crow: Shattered Lives and Broken Dreams (1998) a short story/poem anthology
- The Crow: The Lazarus Heart (1998) by Poppy Z. Brite
- The Crow: Clash By Night (1998) by Chet Williamson
- The Crow: Quoth The Crow (1998) by David Bischoff
- The Crow: Temple of Night (1999) by S.P. Somtow
- The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2000) by Norman Partridge (the fourth film in the franchise was very loosely based on this novel
- The Crow: Hellbound (2001) by A.A. Attanasio
Television series in this franchise are:
A 1998 Canadian television series based on the concept — The Crow: Stairway to Heaven
— lasted one season (22 episodes); while it garnered decent ratings, the show ended when Universal
bought its production company, Polygram Filmed Entertainment
. Universal eventually released the full series on DVD, Hulu
, and Netflix.The page for the television series can be viewed here
This franchise in general contains examples of the following tropes:
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Tropes common to the franchise
Tropes resulting from the franchise
- Flashback Cut: This film technique obviously existed long before the original 1994 film, but became noticeably more common in thriller and horror movies since. Flashbacks to scenes from happier times when life was peachy and Lenore was yet to be lost must be accompanied with a "WHOOSH" sound effect. Most of them last no longer than about half a minute, and show brighter richer colours than exist elsewhere in the film.
- Follow the Leader: Well, somewhat, anyway. The appearance of Eric Draven in the film was the inspiration for the gimmick change of professional wrestler Sting in 1997 from a happy-go-lucky, bleached-blonde uber-face to an enigmatic, trenchcoat-wearing, bat-wielding loner; allegedly, fellow wrestler Scott Hall suggested the idea to him (which wouldn't have been surprising, as Hall was known to look to famous movies as inspirations for his in-ring gimmicks).note
- Gothic Punk: The Crow was a big influence on the Goth subculture in a lot of ways.
- Just remember what The Lady of the Manners always says: Friends do not let friends dress like The Crow.
- She also says, though, that if you really want to, you should go right ahead, to hell with what anybody says, provided you put effort into it.
- Parodied in the South Park episode in which Satan throws a huge costume party on Halloween. His only rule is that nobody can come in if they're dressed as "The Crow." Satan claims that tons of guys do this every Halloween just to attract girls. "It's totally lame." (Pretty funny already, but guess what Satan's original costume for the party was going to be?)
- Heck, Evanescence even borrowed that closing line, "People die, but real love is forever," from the first The Crow movie in the Grief Song "Even in Death".