Creator Backlash: James O'Barr would come to regret the comic because he saw it as glorifying revenge and likened the death of Brandon Lee (who he had become friends with) while making the comic's film adaptation to reliving the loss of his fiancée, which inspired the comic in the first place. He would further be quoted as saying, "I wish I had never written the goddamn thing." However, the Special Edition released in 2011 shows that O'Barr has since come to terms with the work, seeing it as about true love and the importance of self-forgiveness. This is thanks in no small part to Lee's fiancée Eliza Hutton, with whom O'Barr became close. Sadly, aside from Sundown, it's one of his few works that most people enjoyed.
Creator Breakdown: O'Barr wrote the comic as a way of dealing with the tragedy of his fiancée being killed by a drunk driver. Despite the cathartic intent behind making the project, O'Barr later admitted that it actually made his emotional problems worse, and that, combined with Brandon Lee's death during shooting of the film, made O'Barr disown the comic, not being able to come to terms with it until much later.
Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: A definitive "special edition" of the comic was released in 2011. It features a new foreword by O'Barr and new or previously unseen artwork that O'Barr intended to include in the original release but couldn't due to the constraints of the format, in which page numbers had to be multiples of 16. The additions include but are not limited to:
An extra page in Gideon's pawnshop, in which Eric advises young rookie cop Albrecht to reconcile with his estranged wife.
A flashback sequence of Eric and Shelly dancing together.
A flashback sequence called 'An August Noel' which O'Barr says was so autobiographical in nature that it was simply too painful to include it the first time around.
A penultimate sequence called 'Sparklehorse', in which Eric mercy-kills the horse in the barbed wire from the earlier 'Shattered in the Head' sequence, symbolising his final acceptance of the fact he wasn't able to help Shelly and has a discussion with the crow that very explicitly lays out that he's been trapped by his anger at himself as at the gang who attacked him and Shelly that night. The sequence takes place between Eric killing T-Bird and the final sequence of Eric at Shelly's grave.
Channel Hop: The film was originally produced by Paramount Pictures, who dropped the film after principal photography was completed, likely due to the negative attention from Brandon Lee's on-set death. It was later sold to Miramax, who released the film through their deal with Disney, followed by the sequels. After Disney sold off Miramax, the film was released to Blu-ray by Lionsgate, and the sequels by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment. After ViacomCBS purchased a minority stake in Miramax, Paramount Pictures took control of their library, and reissued The Crow on home video 27 years after originally dropping it.
Deleted Role: Scenes featuring Michael Berryman as the Skull Cowboy were cut. Contrary to popular belief, they were cut before Brandon Lee's death, because everyone on set had thought the costume and look of the cowboy character clashed with the rest of the film.
The arcade demolition scene includes footage of the gang harassing and tying up the arcade clerk. She watches as the bomb's timer ticks down. Eric encounters the dying, burnt woman after the explosion and accidentally takes in her memory of the attack. After Eric leaves, Albrecht shows up and tries to help the woman as she finally dies, and the cop screams obscenities to the sky.
In the extended version of the arcade demolition, one of the gang members mentions the Detroit River. Although the film takes place in Detroit, no mention of the city is in the final cut of the film (except for one reference to 'Motor City' and another to Lake Erie).
Funboy wakes up in the bathtub and grabs the razor. He attacks Eric and cuts his hands and torso. Because Eric has weakened himself by getting the morphine out of Darla, he cannot heal properly. (This would have been explained by the Skull Cowboy, but those scenes were also cut.) To cover the wounds, he wraps them in black electrical tape. This explains why his hands and stomach are wrapped up later in the movie.
The shootout in Top Dollar's penthouse contains a bit of additional dialogue and more explicit bloodshed.
While Skank is getting smokes and road beers, two young boys attempt to rob the store armed with guns. This scene was supposed to show that crime has become so indiscriminate that even little kids have resolved to it, and it can even happen to criminals. Skank gets shot in the shoulder as he tries to escape, thus explaining why Skank is limping when he runs after T-Bird's car.
The scene in which Brandon was accidentally shot in real life was changed - the original footage has been destroyed or is in the hands of police as evidence. The gun used is no longer wrapped in a grocery bag, and Eric (now played by Brandon's stunt double Chad Stahelski) is shot in the back instead of in the abdomen. Scenes showing his face were altered with digital effects and makeup, or reshot from different angles.
Development Hell: A complete reboot has been in the works since 2008, and passed between studios, actors, directors and even distributors. Several times it's gotten to the point of a filming start date being announced before someone along the chain drops out. In mid-2018, director Corin Hardy and actor Jason Momoa left the project.
Died During Production: Brandon Lee was killed during filming. The film was retooled and his remaining scenes were filmed using a body double, shot in shadows, or with Brandon's face digitally added.
Fatal Method Acting: One of the most infamous cases, as Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed due to a prop gun that discharged a piece of blank cartridge that was left in the barrel. The unwilling responsible, Michael Massee, took a year off from his career to recuperate, stated many years after the film's release that he still had nightmares about the incident, and reportedly never saw the finished film prior to his death.
This was one of a number of darker and highly stylized comic based films to be made after the big success of Batman (1989).
The appearance of Eric Draven in the film was the inspiration for the gimmick change of professional wrestlerSting in 1996 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 Hall's "Razor Ramon" persona was derived from Scarface (1983).
The reason Eric wears tape on his body is because of a deleted scene where Funboy attacks him with a razor. The Skull Cowboy (who ended up being cut from the film) later explained that draining the morphine from Darla weakened his healing factor.
Skank is later seen with a bandage on his arm and limping. This is the result of a deleted scene where two kids rob the store he went to get smokes and road beers from and shot him in the arm and leg.
Stunt Double: Chad Stahelski got his start as a stunt double on this movie, doubling for Brandon Lee, whom he trained with at the Inosanto Academy. After Lee's lethal accident, Chad was picked for his stunt/photo double because he knew Lee and how he moved, and looked more like him than any other stuntman.
Troubled Production: The film had an incredibly troubled shoot, so much so it would have been an infamous example of this trope before its defining behind-the-scenes accident:
Series creator James O'Barr's first meeting with Paramount executives led to him discovering that they wanted to make the film a musical starring Michael Jackson, and when he laughed thinking it was a joke, they told him they were absolutely serious. Later on, they refused Alex Proyas' request to shoot the film entirely in black and white.
With eight days of filming left, lead actor Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed due to a prop gun that discharged a piece of blank cartridge that was left in the barrel. The resulting shot punctured Lee's abdomen and impacted his spine, and he eventually died from serious blood loss. The footage showing Lee being shot was destroyed, and the incident caused so much anguish for supporting actor Michael Massee (who pulled the trigger on the gun, and was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident) that he took a year off from his career to recuperate.
As a result of Lee's death, and Paramount Pictures writing the project off as a result, Miramax finished production of the film via reshot sequences that used a stand-in for Lee. The FX studio hired for the film, Dream Quest Images (which was already trying to make effects for the entire film on a budget of $15,000) was forced to jury-rig handheld footage of Lee shot earlier in production to finish several effects shots.
There were several more accidents that befell the production crew, leading to a widespread belief that the film was cursed. A carpenter suffered serious burns on his upper body during the first day of filming. A manual worker had a screwdriver get embedded in his hand. An equipment truck burst into flames. A stuntman broke several ribs after falling through a roof, a rigger was horribly electrocuted, and a hurricane destroyed several of the sets. Just prior to his fatal shooting, Lee cut himself on a piece of breakaway glass (which isn't supposed to be sharp).
A lot of the trouble was due to cost-and-corner-cutting; one of the crew recalled "they were trying to make a 30 million dollar movie for 18 million dollars". The film was shot in North Carolina, a "right-to-work" state, allowing the producers to get away with pay, conditions, and, crucially, production schedules that would have been nuked by unionized Hollywood. They began filming at night outdoors, but the aforementioned hurricane destroyed the sets, so they moved the production indoors - without changing the schedule, as switching a production from nights to days requires a 24-hour turnaround, time the harried production team didn't have. Moreover, it was still so cold that the camera rails had to be de-iced during filming by riggers with blowtorches hiding out of shot.
On top of all of this, cocaine abuse was rampant on set, according to Empire magazine, with cameramen shooting whilst high, crew going into the toilets to snort between shots, and people cutting around looking like the Got Milk? ads. One crewmember recalled hearing the sound of a sneeze on the set one day, and an annoyed Brandon Lee quipping, "Someone just lost $50."note His father Bruce Lee was reportedly a prolific cocaine user too, so this was probably personal for Brandon.
Everything eventually got so bad that one of the neighbouring productions in the EUE studios began taking bets on mishaps...until a fire destroyed several of their sets as well.
Wag the Director: A positive example. Brandon Lee requested that one Asian character from the comic who tries to steal Eric's powers be removed from the script, as he felt it was a stereotype.
Iggy Pop was asked to play Funboy, but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. The comic book version of the character was modeled after him to begin with. Instead, he played Curve in The Crow: City of Angels.
Two other sequels were in development, one being The Crow 2037, a futuristic dark gothic fantasy to be written and directed by Rob Zombie; and Lazarus: A Tale of The Crow which took place in the world of gangsta rap and was set to star DMX and Eminem. Neither film failed to materialize and were actually attempted to be spun off into stand alone films separate from the franchise before those plans stalled as well.
According to screenwriter David J. Schow, who hung out with Lee before and during filming, Brandon thought Peter Ustinov was a perfect fit to play Gideon, the sleazy pawnbroker (an idea he got after watching Spartacus late one night).
According to former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook, New Order was approached to provide the film's score, which included providing a re-recording of "Love Will Tear Us Apart". The idea was intended as a nod to the fact that, paralleling Draven's resurrection, New Order themselves were formed in the aftermath of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis' 1980 suicide, not to mention the fact that James O'Barr was a fan of Joy Division and named two characters after Hook and guitarist/New Order frontman Bernard Sumner. However, Sumner turned down the soundtrack offer, citing that they were too busy working on their album Republic; the album would be released in 1993, a year before the film. As something of a compensation, the band allowed a Nine Inch Nails cover of "Dead Souls" to be featured in the movie; both "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Dead Souls" were originally Joy Division songs.
Stone Temple Pilots originally planned to contribute the song "Only Dying" to the soundtrack; The song was one of their earliest compositions, and they had demoed it in 1990 but had never officially recorded or released it. When Brandon Lee died, the band decided the song's title was Harsher in Hindsight and instead contributed "Big Empty", which was released as both the first single from the soundtrack and from their second album Purple, which was released a few months later. A demo of "Only Dying" would eventually be officially released as a bonus track to a reissue of STP's Core.
Prior to his death during filming, Lee was set to reprise his role in two more sequels as in the originally intended ending, Eric would've been forced to roam the earth as a result of saving Sarah after being warned by the Skull Cowboy on not doing so.