What If Swan Hadn't Led The Warriors Back To Coney? | Fanboys Anonymous

What If Swan Hadn't Led The Warriors Back To Coney?

Posted by Fellonius Munch Wednesday, December 4, 2013
It is not widely known that the version of Walter Hill's 1979 funky cult classic The Warriors that was released and is beloved by its cult of fans was not in fact the version originally written, either as the original novel or the original screenplay. Rather, the final version we know and love was the result of an extensive rewrite during filming during those hot summer New York City nights almost 35 years ago.

Director Walter Hill 1979 gang action thriller The Warriors

Known to be a difficult director with a history of conflicting with his actors (I don't care, he makes badass movies), Hill was a visionary who wrote his own material, as directors used to, and therefore was a perfectionist behind the camera.

Already credited with writing The Getaway and Alien, Hill had directed a few movies before then and had dropped out of directing Alien over other conflicts. On the set of The Warriors, tensions between Hill and actor Tom Waites led to Waites being fired. From there, everything quite drastically changed.

Like it matters. Even if things had gone according to plan, Hill's adaptation of Sol Yurick's bleak and grotesque 1960s street gang crime thriller already bore so little resemblance to the source material that, by comparison, Yurick's novel is the one left looking like a cheap ripoff. Just as the final film and original would-be film would have been two completely different animals, the final film and original novel most definitely are as well.

How It Would Have Gone, and What Changed 

From the beginning, the Warriors travel from their digs on the Coney Island beach promenade by train all the way up to the Bronx to hear Gramercy Riffs leader Cyrus's proposal of a mass gang truce, followed by all-out war on law enforcement, the mafia, and big business. Because we got the streets, suckas!

Rogues leader Luther assassinates Cyrus, triggering a riot just as the cops arrive en masse to split up the gangs. In the chaos, Luther blames Warriors leader Cleon for Cyrus's murder, making him pay the lethal cost for the villain's dirty deed. Cyrus's surviving warlord Masai sends the word, and the chase is on: every gang in the city is after the Warriors, and every cop in the city is after anyone in gang colors. Thus begins the painstaking journey through the midnight underbelly of NYC from the Bronx back to Coney Island.

After the Warriors bop their way past a not-so-solid crew, the Orphans, picking up Mercy along the way, Fox makes it a priority to look after her. With growing chemistry, they become the not-so-lovely love interest of the film as Swan tries to lead the gang home safe. Fox and Mercy get cozy and the dynamic begins to shift from the unflappable warlord keeping the gang together, to the young and scared members ending up having to take care of themselves.

Why It Never Happened

During filming, Hill was getting stressed that there seemed no chemistry at all between Fox (Tom Waites) and Mercy (Deborah Van Valkenburgh). It wasn't working for the film, and after a fallout, Hill fired Waites and decided to make Mercy the skanky love interest of warlord Swan (Michael Beck). That is why, in the existing version, Fox is thrown under the wheels of a speeding train by a dirty-ass beat cop.

Michael Beck and Deborah Van Valkenburgh Swan and Mercy The Warriors
"Here, remember him by this piece of poop..."
Moving on, the gang (split up during their escape from the cops) escapes the next station. Spilling out onto the streets, a few of them run into the Baseball Furies outside Central Park. During the chase scene, they are further split up, and whereas most of them manage to hold their own, Cochise (David Harris) is caught and then beaten to death with baseball bats and his corpse drowned. (You know, just to make sure!)

What Changed

Cochise isn't even in this scene in the movie. Instead, it's down to Swan and Snow to flank the Furies in Central Park after Cowboy is knocked out, leaving Ajax to show us just how badass he really is. Joining forces, they kick wholesale Fury ass to save Cowboy (Tom McKitterick) and head back to the station. Ajax (James Remar) is arrested along the way because he just can't turn down the offer of rough sex from an undercover female cop. This last part was meant to happen originally.

I'll shove that bat up your ass and turn you into a popsicle
"Aww thanks, you really think I look like Paul Stanley?"
The gang needs to get to Union Square. They all know this. The remaining Warriors at Central Park—Swan, Cowboy, and Snow (Brian Tyler)—split up for one last look for the others beforehand.

Only in the intended version, instead of finding Mercy, Swan is kidnapped by a savage gang called the Dingoes, notorious for their appreciation for nonconsensual anal sex.

funny black man catching water balloon
The Warriors are now leaderless and lacking heavy muscle.

Having already escaped to Union Square before the others, Rembrandt (the late Marcelino Sanchez), Vermin (Terry Michos), Fox, and Mercy are taken in by the Lizzies while they wait for the others to arrive. Bad news for them, instead of trying some girl-on-girl action with Mercy (because she really needs a wash), the chicks are packed, THE CHICKS ARE PACKED!!!

The Warriors Cochise The Lizzies Union Square apartment fight
"Whoa girl, I meant Phat. Fat with a Ph!"
The Warriors fight their way out just as a gun is pulled by one of the Lizzies. Vermin high-fives bitches in the face with a chair when he is pumped full of lead and shot dead.

What Changed

Vermin was originally meant to die, and with that in mind actor Terry Michos made it his goal to inject his character with humor to 1) to lighten the tone of the film and 2) get more screen time. Ultimately, however, Hill so liked what Michos did with Vermin, making the character so entertaining, that he decided not to kill him after all.

Isn't this turning out to be a nice story? Full of sunshine and sweetness?

Walter Hill The Warriors cast of surviving characters
Dead, Arrested or Buttnapped.
Keeping up? Cleon is dead, Cochise is dead, Ajax is arrested, Swan has been [censored], Vermin is dead (or supposed to be anyway). All that remains are Fox, Mercy, Rembrandt, Cowboy, and Snow providing boombox and dropping the bass/doing all the fighting, and now they're nearly home free. By dawn, they're at Stillwell Avenue. I doubt Fox would have given Mercy a dirty secondhand flower as a welcome gift; that would have just make me sick. It's funny when Swan does it, however, because he's such a grouch. That'd be like me wrapping a stale slice of pizza in birthday parcel paper. But Fox? Gayyyyy!

On your feet, Warriors! Although the Gramercy Riffs discovered that the Warriors had been betrayed by Luther (David Patrick Kelly), that grimy midget is now chasing them through the streets of Coney Island, clanging bottles together and waxing lyrical about coming out to plaaaaaay.

The Warriors David Patrick Kelly as Rogues Luther Cony Island final battle
"And IIIIIIEEEEIIII... will always... LOVE YOOOOOO-ohhhhh..."
Tired, outnumbered, and pissed off, Snow (originally named Snowball) finally speaks up and suggests that they whip those motherless Rogues to honor their fallen friends, when (WHAT IN THE NAME OF FICTIONALLY OFFENDED DELINQUENT BUMHOLES?!) Swan arrives suddenly to save the day, having deflected many penises and singlehandedly wasted the Dingoes so that he could rush in from Manhattan to catch up with his crew.

Michael Beck and Deborah Van Valkenburgh The Warriors behind the scenes rare stills
"Bitch please, I am so coming out to PLAY-AYEEEE!"
The remaining Warriors knock the ever-loving shit out of the Rogues just in time for the Riffs to sound off "YEAH RIGHT!" and swarm the beach.

The way is clear, the Warriors are acquitted (although without receiving an apology for the wrongful murder of their warchief, Cleon), while Luther and his gang look on, awaiting death at the hands of about 50 really angry black men. The Warriors walk off into the sunrise, paying no attention to the fact that the only compensation they're getting out of this is a poor white boy song by wealthy ex-Eagle Joe Walsh.

Fox and Mercy probably go on to have skanky kids and become alcoholics while Swan goes on to need an inflatable rubber donut. Ajax too for that matter. But hey, we were never getting a sequel anyway.

Roll credits!
The Warriors action movie ending Coney Island
"Aaaarghhh, fuck me... Jellyfish!"
So, Fanboys and Fangirls, what the hell do you make of that for different? Would you have loved this original version as much as the one you know and love? Comments below and thanks for reading.

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