March 15, 2012

Tonto vs. John Carter's Apaches

I posted this portrait of the Apaches in John Carter with the caption: "If only Johnny Depp's Tonto looked like this."

I believe Tonto is supposed to be a Comanche in the Lone Ranger movie. This led to the following discussion:But did the Comanches dress like the Apaches?Well, the Apache and Comanche territories overlapped. And the Comanche ranged from the Southwest to the Plains. So I'd say the Comanche look was rather eclectic, with no clear markers of its own.

You can kind of see that here:

Comanche (Part 1)

The bandannas are closely associated with the Apache. Other than that, I'd say the "John Carter" look was common throughout the Southwest. Navajo, Apache, Comanche, et al.

Also, I think it's more common to say Tonto was an Apache. This movie is the first to make him a Comanche. That's one reason I don't mind the Apache-style bandanna.

My main point is that The Lone Ranger should make Tonto look like a normal guy. No headdress, warpaint, or buckskins with fringe--just regular clothes. Instead they went in the opposite direction and "tarted" him up.

They took the wrong lesson from the Pirates movies. We've seen a lot of fictional pirates, so Jack Sparrow had to stand out. But the way to stand out from fictional Indians is to avoid the colorful headdress and warpaint. In his black suit and hat, Eddie Spears's character in Hell on Wheels is much more of a standout than the typical movie Indian.

Someone named Beverly chimed in:All this full Blood Comanche can say is that is the goofiest look for any Indian much less the Comanche...a dang crow on the head! I love the real Apache look, Tonto is an Apache, Johnny Depp should have more say in his movies and should have researched the Comanche!Thanks for a Comanche perspective, Beverly. I agree. But I doubt anyone forced the costume on Depp. The movie's getting made because he wanted to do it.

For more on the subject, see Tonto as a "Spirit Warrior," Johnny Depp in a Crow Headdress, and Sources for Depp's Crow Headdress.

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