Movie Talk

‘The Lone Ranger’ trailer reveals why our hero wears a mask

Photo: DisneyWho was that masked man ... and why was he wearing a mask in the first place?

The new trailer for Disney's gargantuan screen adaptation of "The Lone Ranger" has been released, and with it a little insight into some of the basics of the Ranger legend. While there's still no explanation as to why Johnny Depp is playing a Native American (a bit of controversy that isn't going to go away any time soon), there are some revealing origin story elements amongst all the Western gunplay and derring-do. Check out the trailer below:

The first half of the trailer serves as something of a "Lone Ranger Begins" as we meet John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man who awakens from startling visions to find himself at the top of a tower several hundred feet above the ground. He then meets Tonto (Depp), the Native American warrior destined to become his most trusted companion, who explains that Reid was, indeed, dead ... though, oddly enough (or is it?), a certain horse seemed to have a more ... well, spiritual interpretation of his condition.

Reid is, apparently, a "spirit walker," a man who's been to the other side and then returned -- and one who promptly reinvents himself as an avenger who "rides for justice." Tonto points out that people think he's dead and advises that it's "better to stay that way." Like any true superhero, Reid dons a disguise to hide his true identity. "There come a time where good man must wear mask," says Tonto (not sure what that means, but we'll go with it).

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Thus the Lone Ranger is born, and he and Tonto are hellbent for leather as they traverse a wild and dangerous landscape conjured by the team who brought us the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. There's plenty of danger on display, including explosions, machine gun fire, jumping off cliffs and at least one crash scene that looks like it's going to set a new standard for cinematic train derailments.

Disney has seemed unsure about "The Lone Ranger" from the start, even with the posse of Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer in the saddle. Budget has always been an issue, with the project experiencing delays and near-cancellations before everyone finally decided to just go for it. The production itself has been a troubled one. We'll see if this ends up being one of next summer's biggest hits (and, potentially, the start of a new franchise) or if it falls off the horse with no chance of coming back to life.

"The Lone Ranger" rides on July 3, 2013.