MOTW: The Bromance at the Heart of "The Lone Ranger"

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
July 3rd, 2013

MOTW: The Bromance at the Heart of "The Lone Ranger"

When the 2013 Disney film "The Lone Ranger" begins, Johnny Depp's character, Tonto, has been relegated to a sideshow attraction in a traveling circus show. It is there that he meets a young man who reminds him of John Reid (Armie Hammer), who is better known as the Lone Ranger. He begins to tell the young boy of his long friendship and adventures with Reid.

When Reid and Tonto meet, Reid is a lawyer returning to his dusty Texas hometown to reunite with his brother Dan (James Badge Dale), a tough Texas Ranger who has made peace with the local Indians so that a railroad can be built near the town. Tonto is an Indian who has been away from his tribe out of guilt for a tragic incident that occurred when he was just a little boy. Tonto has been pursuing one of the men responsible, Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner), to kill him as revenge for the childhood incident. Cavendish is an outlaw who is going to be hanged in John and Dan's town. Tonto is on the same train, chained next to Cavendish, who has no idea that Tonto wishes to kill him.

In a different car of the same train, John is calmly reading a book when a group of outlaws boards and robs the train and frees Cavendish from his shackles. John bravely tries to stop them, but finds himself switching places with Cavendish and being chained next to Tonto instead. This is the first interaction between the two, who work together to save each other's lives. The incident gives them a grudging respect for each other, which is how their relationship begins.

Soon after, Dan makes John a Texas Ranger, and they head out with a posse to track down Cavendish and his gang. The posse is tragically ambushed, leaving John as the only survivor. Tonto comes across the massacre and tries to bury the bodies, only to find that John is still alive. He nurses him back to health and waits until John has finally recovered from his injuries to propose that they work together to kill Cavendish, who has now slaughtered family members of both men.

It is a long trek out in the brutal Texas desert, and the two men must share a horse, so they naturally start bonding. At first, much of their bond is based on mutual need and not friendship. They have to work together to bring down Cavendish, who always seems to be a step ahead of the law. They begin sharing stories and grow to understand each other a little better despite their huge cultural divide. Unfortunately, they go about things in very different ways due to their differences, which often results in their plans going awry and lots of bickering,

As the story progresses and the men face bigger challenges and more danger, the bickering begins to sound more like that of a loving couple who disagree rather than adversaries. Soon, they are nearly in sync when trying to carry out their plans, with the result being that their plans finally begin to work. When John comes across Tonto's tribe and is told the horrible story from his childhood, he finally understands the mysterious man whom he has been working with.

Of course, all that understanding and scratching beneath the surface won't matter much if either man ends up dead. When John inadvertently puts himself in danger, Tonto, who has been separated from John after yet another argument, comes to his rescue. Even though the two parted on bad terms, the mutual admiration, respect, and genuine love they have come to have for each other finally shines through. "The Lone Ranger" is a bromance set in the late 1860s, long before such a term existed.

The film is more than two hours long, which may seem like a lot for a Western/comedy hybrid. However, the time flies, because the audience really enjoys seeing John and Tonto bond as they are forced to rely on each other. They complement each other perfectly, especially since Tonto's strengths are John's weaknesses and vice versa.

The stories upon which the film is based are full of adventures that Tonto and John share together. Though they only share one adventure together in "The Long Ranger," it is a real doozy with enough scrapped plans, action, twists, turns, and pratfalls to bring the two together as friends. The end of the movie sets up more bromantic adventures for the two should Disney wish to tell those stories in future films.