Jonah Hex was written — and was intended to be directed — by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. who made both Crank movies, Gamer and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Creative differences with Warner Brothers caused them to leave the directing to Jimmy Hayward, who had only made Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! before this. He was replaced by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) on the reshoots.
Josh Brolin, who played Jonah Hex, told the Nerdist, “Oh, Jonah Hex, hated it. Hated it. The experience of making it — that would have been a better movie based on what we did. As opposed to what ended up happening to it, which is going back and reshooting 66 pages in 12 days and that being…
Listen, I understand it’s financiers, you’re trying to save their money and it becomes a financial thing, but if — there’s this thing called revenge trading. And I’m disciplined enough to know you never do it. But with Jonah Hex, if I had $5 million — which is always how I saw that movie. I remember when I was talking to Warner Bros. about doing that movie, High Plains Drifter is what I put on the TV, I said, “That’s what I wanna do.” I would do that movie still. If I ever had the balls to spend $5 million, which I don’t, I would do that movie, ’cause that’s the version of that movie that would have been successful, for sure. And it didn’t need to cost anything more than $8-$10 million.”
Look, I get it. Jonah Hex is a character that appeals to me, but I am not the audience you make $80 million dollar movies for.
Created by writer John Albano and artist Tony DeZuniga, Hex was abused by his father, sold as a slave to Native Americans, accepted and then abandoned by his tribe and finally joined the South in the Civil War before losing faith in their battle for independence when he saw that the black experience was the same as the slavery of his childhood. He attempted to surrender to the North and was used to kill all of his old regiment, which branded him as a villain to both sides of the war, just as he reconnected with his tribe and ended up being branded with the Mark of the Demon when the chief scarred his face with a heated tomahawk for defending himself in battle and killing that chief’s son. He then becomes a bounty hunter — and goes into the future after the end of the world for some time — and then there’s this movie, which for some reason adds occult powers to the character, as he can now speak to the dead.
The movie changes the origin to have Hex as a Confederate cavalryman who refuses an order from Turnbull to burn down a hospital and then kills Turnbull’s son in self-defense. Years later, Turnbull kills Hex’s family and brands his face. Native Americans revive Jonah with mystic powers and when he thinks his enemy has died in a fire, he becomes a bounty hunter. However, Turnbull has survived and is planning to destroy the U.S. with a nation killing weapon designed by Eli Whitney.
There’s a great cast here. John Malkovich is Turnbull, his main assistant Burke is Michael Fassbender and Will Arnett, Michael Shannon and Aidan Quinn are all decent in this. Megan Fox pehaps has a horrible accent, but she does some nice stunts and looks the part.
The movie is just 80 minutes and feels barely put together, rushed to meet a release date more than if the movie was done. It’s a real shame, because the idea of the movie is good and if given to the Italian Western style movie that it should have been, it could have been so much better. Not every comic book movie should be a blockbuster.