For a large portion of the twentieth century the Western Genre was king, making icons out of stars like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Then, in 1977 a little movie came along called Star Wars and all of a sudden Cowboys were no longer cool enough. Science fiction was the new box office bread winner and the Old West was once again condemned to the pages of history. Fitting then that it was in that the very same year, bit part, comic book anti hero, cowboy Jonah Hex was given his own self titled series.
Some would argue that Hex has spent the last 30 years as a fringe property at DC comics and they’d probably be right. However, this has not stopped him from cropping up in a huge number of more bankable properties, as well as a number of popular animated series. This, coupled with his 2005 return to comic book shelves has, somewhat inevitably lead to the property being optioned by long time DC collaborators Warner Brothers.
In terms of casting, If Josh Brolin is the good, and Megan Fox is the bad then I guess that makes John Malkovich the ugly. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of casting aspersions over the actor’s appearance more it is the crucial role of Quentin Turnbull, long time Hex antagonist that will require Malkovich to channel the uglier side of his personality. Whilst Brolin has proven his Stetson wearing credentials in 2007’s No Country for Old Men that wagon was steered by the ultra experienced Coen brothers. The fate of Jonah Hex on the on the other hand has been entrusted to the little known director of Horton Hears a Who!
Jimmy Hayward, who cut his teeth as an animator at Pixar finally broke out in 2008 with the aforementioned Dr Seuss adaptation but Jonah Hex is his first foray into live action film making. Yes, on the surface Hayward’s appointment may appear to be somewhat of a gamble in comparison to the other, more experienced directors helming DC’s other properties, think Nolan’s Batman Begins, Singer’s Superman Returns and Martin Campbell’s upcoming Green Lantern but is it may yet prove an inspired choice to task an animator with finally bringing this pen and ink cowboy to the big screen.
If anybody was in doubt over Hayward’s conviction he has assembled an impressive and versatile supporting cast of up and comers who are all surely looking to cement their own burgeoning reputations with some hopefully scene stealing performances.
First off the bat there’s Michael Fassbender who will no doubt be hoping to continue his transatlantic successes with a more mainstream performance than his brief but telling role in Inglorious Basterds. Secondly, in what is probably the most left field bit of casting is Will Arnett, still probably best known for Arrested Development. Whilst I am an unashamed fan of Arnett and his self deprecating comedy shtick, part of me hopes that this time around he is afforded the opportunity to put on his more serious face, if only just to see if he can finally make the leap from the small screen. The trailer also features a brief and seemingly unaccredited turn from the domineering Lance Reddick from the hit TV show… Fringe. Apparently he was in some cop show as well. Finally there’s a supporting role for one of the 2008 Supporting Actor nominees Michael Shannon. Whilst it is unlikely that Shannon will receive any resemblance of the critical acclaim he earned for his part in Revolutionary Road, Jonah Hex may prove a more profitable box office outing.
With the trailer having finally been released the buzz for this comic book western is building steadily. The trailer, which seems to be geared heavily towards the pubescent demographic contains some very shaky dialogue, a large number of explosions and a number of glaringly unsubtle nods to Eastwood’s ‘Man With No Name’. Throw into that mix a number of gratuitous shots of Megan Fox dressing and undressing and you may well have yourself a summer holiday sleeper hit. Whilst it will inevitably be over shadowed by the likes of Iron Man, Robin Hood and Prince of Persia the film’s prodominantly strong cast may just be gifted enough to pull off what is unavoidably, given its source material, a ludicrous tale of Bullets, Broads and slightly unrealistic facial burns. And, lest we forget, Transformers 2 proved that a feature long ode to Megan Fox does not a good movie make. If Hayward can avoid falling into that trap he may well just pull off a rip roaring, 21st century western which makes a few quid on its way.
The release date for Jonah Hex has been brought forward to June 18th