Spirit Reckoning: How the Wild West is Still in Fashion

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Wild Wild West

While superheroes and intergalactic mercenaries take over popular entertainment, some old-school themes still linger. They may be less in demand than in the past, but cowboys pop up now and then in movies, video games and even comics to take us back to the grit of the wild west. Not only that, but current projects under development, like Spirit Reckoning, enjoy mixing up old and modern trends to create unique stories that will resonate with today’s audiences. You can find such originality throughout the entertainment industry, each sector often inspiring others. But, first, a bit more detail on this upcoming horror western.

Spirit Reckoning Update

What we already knew about the project is that Sean Patrick Flanery (Boondock Saints, Saw 3D) and Lew Temple (The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) were part of the cast, which Horrorfuel says has now added David Howard Thorton (Terrifier) to the team. Jimmy Lee Combs has taken on the role of writer, director and producer, the last alongside David McAbee. In terms of plot, the story follows the mayhem caused by Flanery’s character, Sam Conley, a farmer murdered alongside his family and then brought back to life as a skeletal cowboy by an Indian shaman. His rival, Lawson Lovette, played by Temple, adds to the carnage. Fun horror western action is the driving force of this production, scheduled for release sometime in 2021.

Wild West Themes Today

Another promising movie comic book fans are especially hoping will get back on track is Chris Pratt’s Cowboy Ninja Viking. There’s been no word from its stars or developers since 2018, when Universal put production on hold without outright canceling it. There’s plenty of potential in the popular Image Comics title, involving a super-soldier with multiple personality disorder conditioned to be a cowboy, ninja and Viking. He and the scientist who made him try to track down other such agents that have been turned into assassins. A good and amusing premise that should prove successful, if production resumes.

Looking at existing cowboy-themed entertainment, one character that not only survived but evolved through the decades is Sheriff Woody. Toy Story 4 continued the franchise in 2019 with the beloved cowboy still in the lead, delivering Pixar’s characteristic combination of fun and wisdom. Whether in live-action, printed or animated form, a heroic cowboy character still has a certain charm that draws audiences into a story. However, modern entertainment does tend to have different demands when it comes to western action.

Traditional representations of life in the wild west always emerge. They explore the grittiness of human existence at a time and land where survival and wealth were paramount. One of the most recent productions worth checking out is The Sisters Brothers (2018), which balances gunslinging violence and character study along a Gold Rush-themed plot. Jacques Audiard directs Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as the assassin duo on the trail of a prospector (Riz Ahmed) and his ally (Jake Gyllenhaal), all with dreams of a better life.

When it comes to more unconventional narratives, such as horror westerns, comic books have more freedom and deliver the best results. A great example is the series that started the genre in 1972: Weird Western Tales. DC Comics continues circulating the classic, issue #71 of the Blackest Night storyline currently priced at $2.99. When these comics were first published, the wild west took on a whole new meaning as it was tied into the Green Lantern universe. Specifically, they focused on Nekron’s plot to eliminate emotion from the world with the help of reanimated heroes, including Jonah Hex and Scalphunter.

The merging of universes has gone even further with publications like Gail Simone’s second issue of Death-Defying Devil, where the superhero is yanked from a 21st century environment into that of an old western. His task of protecting a motley crew of people only changes in that he has to do it in wild-west style. Part of the fun of this scenario is the comparison between superhero and classic cowboy cultures.

It’s thanks to refreshing ideas like these that wild west characters and plots have remained attractive to readers and viewers. And, apart from movies and comics, gaming entertainment has also taken on the responsibility of reviving cowboy culture. 

On the simpler end of the spectrum, Wild Wild West: The Great Train Heist is a title among Betway Slots that applies HD graphics and smooth gameplay features to deliver a casual but immersive online gaming experience. The western-themed imagery and music keep users that much more entertained. And then you have franchises like Red Dead Redemption completely dedicated to giving players the full cowboy experience. Rockstar Games hit the jackpot with this project, which revealed just how popular the western genre still is. Its developers pushed open-world potential even further with the second instalment, bringing together action-packed storytelling and extra fun immersive features, from quests to survival skills.

The entertainment industry is clearly not done with cowboys. And with special projects like Spirit Reckoning and, hopefully, Cowboy Ninja Viking in the works, the wild west is sure to keep enchanting audiences for generations to come.