The 2010 summer-movie season has given us swords-and-sandals epics, superhero melees and a cavalcade of 3-D animated blockbusters. What we haven’t yet seen is a straight-up western, partly because that gun-toting, tobacco-chewing genre has largely fallen out of favor in Hollywood. All that changes Friday (June 18), as [movie id="358297"]“Jonah Hex”[/movie] rides into theaters in a storm of CGI dust and supernatural-inspired storytelling.
Josh Brolin stars as Hex himself, a facially scarred bounty hunter with a taste for bullets, broads and revenge. His adversary is John Malkovich’s Quentin Turnbull, who thinks it would be a good idea to unleash the fires of hell on the entire planet. Hex doesn’t think that’s such a swell idea, plus Turnbull’s the dude who killed his family and hot-branded his face, so a quest for vengeance sounds like a pretty good idea.
Before you take your own quest to the cinema this weekend, be sure to check out MTV News’ cheat sheet: everything you need to know about “Jonah Hex.”
Wrangling the Horses
In the early 1970s, writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga created “Jonah” for DC Comics, and the surly antihero continues to appear within DC pages to this day. It wasn’t until summer 2007, though, that Warner Bros. began to ramp up plans to bring the character to the big screen.
Brolin began circling the role of Jonah in late 2008 and stayed interested even as directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (“Crank”) parted ways with the production over creative differences. Why did Brolin stay on?
“When I first read it, I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s awful!’ ” Brolin told MTV News. “And then I had a moment a week later, and I thought, ‘Why is it awful? Maybe the thing to do is to do the most awful movie I can find.’ ”
Malkovich found the movie in early ’09, followed shortly by Megan Fox as a Wild West prostitute named Lilah. In April, we got our first look at the Louisiana-based production, thanks to some rather revealing on-set pics of Fox. Not to be outdone by his sultry co-star, Brolin made his presence as Jonah known in June, when the first photos surfaced of the actor in full, facial prosthetics.
Enter the Hex
As the year pushed forward, we began to hear from almost everyone with a key role in the production. Brolin spoke glowingly of new director Jimmy Hayward (“Horton Hears a Who!”), Malkovich told us why he signed on for the role, and Fox said of the production, “I think it’s a really good interpretation of the comic. It somehow manages to be super-violent while still having a PG-13 rating. I don’t know how they did that.”
Then trouble set in. Re-shoots kicked off in January of this year, intended to fix unspecified problems with the footage and to be overseen by “I Am Legend” director Francis Lawrence, who was hired as a consultant. And as the June release date approached, fans started to wonder when the first trailer would arrive. It finally appeared at the very end of April — and it looked fairly rad — but questions remained.
Days before the trailer dropped, Brolin himself told us the film was very much in flux. “We’re still in the process of solidifying that tone,” he said. “There’s a lot of humor to use in this cut. We’ve been going, ‘How much humor do we use? Do we stay with the emotional line of the story? How can we release some of the exposition so we can just rely on the action?’ All this kind of sh–. We’re in the midst of it, man!”
We’re Going Straight to the Wild Wild West
From Will Smith and Escape Club songs to the decades’ worth of face-off-at-high-noon flicks, the Wild West has proved fertile creative ground across the pop-culture spectrum. It remains to be seen, however, if “Jonah” can overcome its troubled production history and win big at the box office.
The sneak peeks certainly look good: there’s Jonah facing off against Turnbull; Jonah and Lilah trying to get out of a jam and then showing off their shooting skills; Jonah getting a little sensitive about his disfigured face; and Jonah riding a horse with a Gatling gun strapped to its side.
So will fans come out in support of this latest comic book adaptation? Is there a chance there will be more cinematic “Jonah” coming down the line? Producers have certainly planned for that possibility.
“They leave it open for a sequel,” Fox told us. “They tweaked the script so there might be a sequel if necessary.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Jonah Hex.”