I am not kidding you on this. Disney has a big, action-packed movie version of The Lone Ranger coming out early July -- and it stars Johnny Depp. As...Tonto. Yes, Tonto. The Native American best friend and crime-fighting partner to the Lone Ranger. My first thought was, "Johnny Depp is Tonto? They couldn't find a good Native American actor to play that part?" Then it occurred to me that the casting could be part of a multi-picture contractual deal with the actor and a sure-bet, in corporate movie executives' minds, for box office success. Depp brought millions of moviegoers with dollars into theaters to see Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean franchise -- and he got himself a Best Actor of 2003 Oscar nomination for playing whacked out Captain Jack Sparrow. Now he's Tonto.
So why isn't Johnny Depp in the lead role as The Lone Ranger? I don't know. And why has he got a bird on his head that looks like something stuffed by Norman Bates in Psycho? Again, I don't know. I'm sure the story has been re-tooled and, as they say now, re-imagined for a new generation. With Depp as Tonto, he probably won't be a "sidekick" in the 1950s/60s television sense. That role, I'm sure, got beefed up and Tonto will have more business and more of an edge than he did in the old TV series.
Eastwood's movie looked at war, patriotism, how war is marketed and how heroes are marketed. Hayes, one of iconic Iwo Jima flag-raisers, was never comfortable with fame. Nor did he seek it. The shy and sensitive veteran turned to alcohol.
Here's an idea: In 1966, Burt Reynolds starred on a TV series as a Native American detective in New York City called Hawk. Perhaps Disney/ABC Network could dust off and re-imagine Hawk. Make it an action-packed movie or TV series starring Adam Beach.