Points of Light: The Crow

Last week, I said that Points of Light needed to focus on two dark films that inspired me in the creation of my two main characters.  I began with Sam Rami’s Darkman, which provided the torment and loss for Joe, as well as some dark humor and the asthetic of the Knights’ costumes.  Today, I will examine the other dark film and graphic novel, which was a major turning point for the creation of Nightstalker- James O’Barr’s The Crow.


The Story

The Crow, one of the most famous independent comics of all time, is the story of Eric Draven, a musician killed alongside his girlfriend by a gang of violent street punks.  One year later, Draven is resurrected by a mysterious crow (which according to the film, guides souls to the land of the dead, and occasionally brings them back), dons a black costume and frightening white makeup, and goes out onto the streets to take his revenge on the criminals that destroyed his life.  The film and comic take different approaches- the comic deals far more with the emotional turmoil Draven goes through as he comes to terms with death, while the film focuses more on the acts of revenge he takes against the gang.  Both end with Draven taking the criminal out and returning to the earth to see his girlfriend again, finally accepting his death and the circumstances around it.

What I Learned: Duality, Dark Humor, Inner Turmoil

The Crow is laced with tragedy, and with good reason.  O’Barr wrote the story after his girlfriend was killed in a drunk driving accident coming to pick him up.  O’Barr poured all of his anger and guilt into the pages of the novel, and that all comes across in the movie, which sadly has its own tragedy (actor Brandon Lee was killed during filming due to an accident with an improperly loaded gun).  Regardless, Lee put on a tremendous show of Draven’s inner anger and rage as he took revenge.  What I found amazing however, was that despite his inner anger and turmoil, he still showed traces of humanity and tenderness, especially with his friend from his old life, Sarah.

Even when he finds that Sarah’s mother is with one of the thugs, Draven still takes time to both heal and lecture her on the importance of her child.

This, in a moment, crystalized Nightstalker for me.  While he was someone that was dark and scary and violent, he could still be human, and care about others, even regret the course of action he had to take, despite it’s varying levels of justification.  But when he was violent and scary, he would still bring everything he had to it.  Still, I always appreciate some humor in my heroes, and Draven could pull that off even in his most frightening scenes.

But more then anything, I saw Draven’s inner turmoil and how it was driving him.  He was driven by a desire for revenge, without question, but also so many other things.  He was wracked with guilt that he couldn’t save his girlfriend.  He was tormented by the pain he endured.  And the memories of his past humanity, which he knew he could never have again.  But he never showed any of that to the people he battled against.  All his pain was reserved for moments of solitude, or moments with the few allies he gathered in the time he returned.  It was a unique dynamic to me- someone that buried the pain, but dug it up when he was alone.  It made him human despite all his brutality and anger, and I knew how much Nightstalker would need that.

What Writers Can Learn

Like Darkman, The Crow is an amped up revenge story, but with a different focus.  Reading the comic or seeing the film is a way to see a character shaped by grief and loss; knowing the backstory shows how far a person might want to go to see justice done.  There’s also the moral of accepting death and our own limitations in the sight of it.  Even if the supernatural/superhero elements don’t reflect your own ideas, they are concepts that resonate in some of the greatest works in literature.  If you want to tell a story that deals with death and what it can cause a person to do,  there’s no greater and truer fiction then The Crow.


Posted on April 22, 2013, in Independent Publishing, Inspiration, Superpower, Writing, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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