Broken Base: Is the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto an outrage and an insult to the Native American culture, or a fairly standard case of Fake Nationality blown way out of proportion by an overly touchy section of the audience?
While big-name Native American actors are rare, Disney could have used this as an opportunity to find and promote a new talent. It's not like Armie Hammer was an A-lister when he was cast as the lead, after all.
Complete Monster: Butch Cavendish is one of the darkest villains to ever appear in a Disney film. Rumored to be a Wendigo for his unusual habits, Butch shows why when after gunning down the hero, Reid's brother, Butch cuts out his heart and eats it. Butch uses fear to oppress any hint of rebellion and will kill at any hint of complaint At one point, he even kills a laborer for nothing more than saying the entrance of a cave he wanted entry to was blocked. Butch conspires to start a war with, and wipe out the Comanche people for the silver in the mines by leading attacks on innocent people in settlements, framing the Comanche. In the past, when the Comanche saved Butch's life, he repaid them by slaughtering them, earning Tonto's undying hatred. With his evil and his dark habits, it's easy to see why Tonto sees Butch as a flesh-eating monster of myth.
Creepy Awesome: Butch Canvandish. William Fichtner plays him as an absolute psycho, but it's so hammy and entertaining that many people named him one of the best characters in the movie.
Critic-Proof: Surprisingly subverted for a Johnny Depp film. It was savaged by critics, but the audiences didn't eat it up like they did for the Pirates movies. Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp blamed critics for "conspiring" against the film to make it bomb.
Ethnic Scrappy: Several critics have taken the stance that the "Tonto is crazy" explanation for his strange dress and manner is simply a way to try and excuse the numerous Hollywood stereotypes in the character's portrayal.
Genius Bonus: Silver dealing with the scorpions on John and Tonto's faces by eating them seems like an Ass Pull at first, but horses really are immune to several types of venoms, to the extent that horse hormones have been used to develop antivenoms.
Romantic Plot Tumor: The subplot with John being in love with his brother Dan's wife Rebecca and vice versa never really stood a chance of being remotely satisfying. Tonto proclaimed that he had a vision of John and Rebecca together and having a child together, which becomes extremely unpleasant because she already has a son with his brother Dan. That's just nine kinds of awkward right there.
So Okay, It's Average: General consensus is that it's not a terrible film and has a pretty decent story. Still, at best it's just a weekend rental.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: A number of changes that were made to the characters have not gone without backlash, most notably the change of Reid from badass Texas Ranger to bumbling City Mouse lawyer who largely succeeds out of sheer luck, and the transition of Tonto from Magical Native American to "some lunatic who's dragging the Ranger along on his own quest for revenge" (which is really just going from one problem to another), and who treats the Ranger more as a thing to be tolerated than a partner worthy of respect.
The plot basics are surprisingly similar to that of RoboCop (1987) of all things. The hero is a noble law enforcement officer who's nearly-slain by a notorious outlaw, is revived and ends up stronger than before, has a partner who helps him figure out who he should be going after, brings the outlaw in — only to discover that he was all along in cahoots with a Corrupt Corporate Executive who sets law enforcement/the army on the heroes.
WTH, Casting Agency?: The casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto caused quite a stir as the character has traditionally been portrayed by actually Native American actors while Depp only has vague feelings that he might be of Native American descent and is not at all immersed in any of the cultures, which might or might not be a big deal depending on who you ask.
Complete Monster: Butch Cavendish is a Corrupt Politician and businessman who masterminds the deaths of the Texas Ranger group that includes the brother and father of John Reid. Later having the families of the victims eliminated to cover his tracks, Cavendish ends up ruined by the Ranger and builds himself back up to seek revenge, killing tons of innocent people along the way, and framing the Lone Ranger himself. Upon finding John's sister in law Linda and nephew Dan Jr., Cavendish orders Linda raped and killed in front of Dan, and later tortures one of John's good friends by pouring a pot of boiling stew over him before trying to kill John and his best friend Tonto.