Only bad guys need to hide who they are.

Right? Only the guilty fear showing their faces.

In the new trailer for The Lone Ranger, Johnny Depp’s Tonto seems to acknowledge this with his broken English line: “There come a time, Kemosabe … when good man must wear mask.”

As the big-budget action-adventure gallops towards theaters July 3, going a little bit bad may be a very good thing for this movie.

The appeal of the old west was its lawlessness, and with that comes the idea of good men doing the right thing by very bad means. It’s key to everything from High Noon to Unforgiven. The title this film does not want to be associated with is 1999’s Wild, Wild West, which fell apart amid its sitcom-y execution.

While it would be foolhardy to expect anything too deep or boundary-pushing from a movie this expensive, aimed at such a broad audience, Tonto’s mask line offers a little hope that we’ll see more than just slapstick and self-referential gags.

Here’s the trailer, but it all goes by pretty fast. Check it out, then click here for a closer analysis.

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First of all, we get a new version of the vanity cards from Walt Disney Pictures and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.

The Disney castle morphs into a sandstone butte, and Bruckheimers card, which usually traces along a curving road and ends at a tree being struck by lightning, now pulls the viewer into a cave in the butte, and we follow a clattering train along tracks leading to the ill-fated plant.

Not to read too much into the sequence, but the whole dive into the crevasse strikes me as a little … Freudian, no?

All right, moving on …

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The trailer is mostly made up of the same footage Disney revealed at Comic-Con in July, though that video wasn’t made publicly available at the time.

Director Gore Verbinski introduces us to the world of The Lone Ranger with the voice of a character we never see, an unspecified villain played by Tom Wilkinson.

“From the time of Alexander the Great, no man could travel faster than the horse that carried him,” Wilkinson purrs amid scenes of the transcontinental railroad coming together in the 1860s. “Not anymore,” he adds.

Yo, a villain is gonna school you on history, bro! Are you gonna take that?

Verbinski sets the stage with a very “Dawn of Man” juxtaposition of images. We see the vast, seemingly uninhabited territory of the desert in Monument Valley …

Then we see a steam locomotive surging ahead, penetrating this pristine wilderness.

And, again — Excuse me, Dr. Freud, I think you dropped your cigar.

“Imagine time and space under the mastery of man …” Wilkinson says, and we get a close-up of a broken pocket watch.

The times they are a-changing, you see. And not necessarily for the better.

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The next shot in this sequence shows the potential victim standing in the way of this relentless march of progress.

Two native tribesman are seen in worried silhouette. A few decades ago, these would be the movie’s villains — the savages menacing the noble cowboys who are simply trying to realize America’s Manifest Destiny.

In this version, a great celebration is held to mark the expansion of the railroad, while the chiefs fret about what this means for their way of life.

With the railroad and the spread of the pioneers, we get the spread of something else … Not necessarily disease, although that made its way west, too. No, we see the corruption of these interlopers through the image below.

That’s right, kiddos. Prostitutes.

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“Imagine time and space under the mastery of man …” Wilkinson says. “Power that makes emperors and kings look like fools.”

And with that, we see a group of men arrayed around a meeting table in what seems to be a passenger rail-car. These are fat-cat types. Big-money men. The kind who might be getting rich, rich, rich for every inch the railroad stretches toward the Pacific.

But wait. Wilkinson said, “power that makes emperors and kings look like fools.”

Suddenly Rich Uncle Pennybags and his brethren are being machine-gunned to death in a very Godfather-esque mass assassination.

“… Whoever controls this, controls the future,” Wilkinson concludes.

So whoever he is, it’s safe to assume that character is consolidating his power and taking out the competition, or his partners. Gotta control that future, right?

The trailer keeps it deliberately vague who exactly is committing this violence, but it lets us know in general terms that a big bad is coming and an even bigger bad is taking control of it.

Now, in these tough economic times, maybe an image of some rich jerks getting their top hats shot off isn’t enough to make you root against this anonymous villain. So the trailer gives us one final image — two working stiffs, engineers who are just doing their jobs piloting one of these locomotives.

As one pulls his head back inside the train, we see a shadowing figure standing atop the coal tender, training a gun on them. As it cuts to black, we hear a shot.

Suddenly the innocent are dying, and a hero is needed …

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But hell, why not two heroes?

Here we get our first shot of Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as Tonto.

We have no idea how they’ve met, or where they come from, but here they are busting their way into a saloon in grand fashion. The Lone Ranger has his guns drawn, but Tonto looks like he’s just ready to throw down.

While we never see the villain, it’s also a curious trailer because we never actually hear the title character say anything.

Our next shot is of co-star Helena Bonham Carter. Again, we don’t learn much about her except that Harry Potter’s Bellatrix LeStrange and the cannibalistic Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd can clean up real nice.

Friend? Foe? It’s difficult to tell how she fits in. The trailer is making sure we know as little as possible at this point.

However it does hint just a little bit at Tonto and The Lone Ranger’s backstories.

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Tonto has done a little jail-time.

Who knows for what, but my guess is he has been unfairly imprisoned. (He’s the good-guy, after all.)

My first thought on seeing this was, “That looks like the kind of prison that would have ‘Jack Sparrow Was Here’ scratched on the wall somewhere.'”

My second thought was: “Okay, so is Tonto a little bit supernatural?”

The character is in deep meditation, and then we see him gently lift his arms and the box of light cast on the wall in front of him begins to stretch wide. Is he calling on some otherworldly force to help him escape this cell? Again, in just a few rapid images it’s difficult to say for sure.

Depp told EW this much about the character in a recent interview: “Tonto’s a Comanche who left his tribe, or his nation, when he was very, very young, on this personal quest. He’s basically like a wild card. He was of no nation, really, at that point of leaving his tribe. That idea appealed to me, as well. This guy is sort of living a band apart.”

I like that element of loneliness to both characters — it’s called The LONE Ranger after all — and it’s more likely to be an entertaining partnership if it’s a reluctant one.

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All we see of The Lone Ranger’s backstory is this blood-streaked badge.

We see boots lying in the sand, and some cruel buzzards hopping about, then the feet are dragged away.

In most versions of The Lone Ranger‘s origin story, he is a Texas Ranger who is part of a posse ambushed and killed by outlaws. Only he survives (hence the “lone” part of his title). He’s then discovered by Tonto, who helps him bury the bodies, and nursed back to health as the two become partners in fighting injustice in the Old West.

There’s no indication of where this fits into their story, but we then see the two heroes beside an overturned railway car, trapped in what seems to be the craziest possible train derailment in history.

A sideways locomotive, its wheels still chugging, is sliding at them at tremendous speed.

My guess is they survive. (Hmm … you think?)

Okay, so that’s the kind of thing that makes a friend for life.

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The question of the mask is just something the trailer isn’t going to answer for us now.

We get shots of The Lone Ranger’s other iconic imagery, such as when a little boy hurls a silver bullet through the air (presumably to him.)

Maybe it’s enough for now to simply raise the question. Tonto tells him that sometimes a good man has to hide who he is.

Are you gonna NOT trust the crazy-looking guy with the big dead bird on his head?

He may look like the kind of guy who had a very hard night at the Insane Clown Posse concert, but as we see in the final shot of the trailer …

He’s also kind of ninja.

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The Lone Ranger
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