How The Equalizer Trilogy with Denzel Washington differs from its TV original

The Equalizer

The Equalizer is a popular media franchise that spans from television to film. It features a protagonist named Robert McCall, who is a retired agent with a mysterious past and a sense of justice. He helps ordinary people who are victims of crime, corruption, or injustice, using his contacts, skills, and weapons. He often acts as a mentor, protector, or friend to his clients.

The Equalizer started as a TV show in the 1980s, starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall. It ran for four seasons on CBS, from 1985 to 1989. The TV show was created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim, who were inspired by the movie Taxi Driver and the novel The Bourne Identity. The TV show was praised for its realistic and gritty portrayal of urban crime and violence, as well as its complex and charismatic protagonist.

The Equalizer was revived as a movie trilogy in the 2010s, starring Denzel Washington as Robert McCall. The movie trilogy was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who had previously worked with Washington on Training Day and The Magnificent Seven. The first movie was released in 2014, followed by the second movie in 2018, and the third movie in 2023. The movie trilogy was a commercial success, grossing over $600 million worldwide. The movie trilogy was also acclaimed for its action-packed and thrilling scenes, as well as its emotional and moral depth.

How does The Equalizer Trilogy with Denzel Washington differ from its TV original? What are the similarities and differences between the two versions of The Equalizer? In this article, we will compare and contrast the TV show and the movie trilogy in terms of plot, characters, theme, and style. We will also explore how the TV show and the movie trilogy reflect the social or cultural context of their time or place.

The Equalizer: A brief history and background of the TV show and the movie trilogy

The Equalizer TV show was created in 1985 by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim. They wanted to make a show that would appeal to both male and female audiences, as well as to older viewers who were looking for more mature and sophisticated stories. They came up with the idea of a retired agent who helps people in need, using his skills and resources. They named him Robert McCall, after a character from an old radio show called The Adventures of Sam Spade.

The creators of the TV show were influenced by several sources, such as the movie Taxi Driver (1976), which starred Robert De Niro as a vigilante taxi driver who rescues a young prostitute from a pimp; the novel The Bourne Identity (1980), which featured Jason Bourne as an amnesiac assassin who tries to uncover his true identity; and the TV series Callan (1967-1972), which starred Edward Woodward as a reluctant spy who works for a secret British agency.

The creators of the TV show also wanted to make it realistic and gritty, reflecting the social issues and problems of New York City in the 1980s. They hired Edward Woodward to play Robert McCall, because they admired his previous work on Callan and other British shows. Woodward brought a lot of charisma and depth to the role of McCall, making him a sympathetic and complex hero. He also performed most of his own stunts, despite being in his 50s at the time.

The Equalizer TV show was well received by critics and audiences alike. It won several awards, including two Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama for Woodward in 1987 and 1988. It also spawned several novels, comics, video games, and merchandise based on the show.

The Equalizer movie trilogy was created in 2014 by Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington. They wanted to make a movie that would showcase Washington's talent and charisma as an action star, as well as his ability to portray complex and nuanced characters. They chose to adapt The Equalizer TV show into a movie franchise, because they were fans of the original show and its premise.

The creators of the movie trilogy were influenced by several sources, such as the movie Man on Fire (2004), which starred Washington as a former CIA operative who becomes a bodyguard and avenger for a young girl; the movie Taken (2008), which featured Liam Neeson as a former spy who rescues his daughter from kidnappers; and the movie John Wick (2014), which starred Keanu Reeves as a retired assassin who goes on a rampage after his dog is killed.

The creators of the movie trilogy also wanted to make it modern and stylish, reflecting the technological and cultural changes of the 21st century. They hired Washington to play Robert McCall, because they had previously worked with him on Training Day and The Magnificent Seven. Washington brought a lot of intensity and emotion to the role of McCall, making him a formidable and compassionate hero. He also trained extensively for the role, learning various martial arts and weapons skills.

The Equalizer movie trilogy was well received by critics and audiences alike. It was praised for its action-packed and thrilling scenes, as well as its emotional and moral depth. It also broke several records, such as being the first R-rated movie to open at number one in September (The Equalizer, 2014), being the most successful sequel for an R-rated movie in July (The Equalizer 2, 2018), and being the highest-grossing movie for an African-American director in January (The Equalizer 3, 2023).

Robert McCall: A comparison of the main character in the TV show and the movie trilogy

Robert McCall is the protagonist and the hero of The Equalizer franchise. He is a retired agent who uses his skills and resources to help people in need. He is also a man with a mysterious past and a sense of justice. However, he is not exactly the same in the TV show and the movie trilogy. There are some similarities and differences between the two versions of Robert McCall, such as:

Appearance: The TV show Robert McCall is played by Edward Woodward, who is a white British actor with blond hair and blue eyes. He is in his 50s, and he wears suits, trench coats, and glasses. He looks like a respectable and refined gentleman, but he can also be tough and intimidating when needed. The movie trilogy Robert McCall is played by Denzel Washington, who is a black American actor with black hair and brown eyes. He is in his 60s, and he wears casual clothes, jackets, and hats. He looks like an ordinary and humble man, but he can also be fierce and ruthless when needed. Personality: The TV show Robert McCall is a sophisticated and cultured man, who enjoys reading, listening to classical music, and drinking fine wine. He is also a witty and charming man, who can be sarcastic, humorous, or flirtatious. He is a compassionate and generous man, who cares deeply about his clients and friends. He is also a confident and courageous man, who can handle any situation or threat with ease. The movie trilogy Robert McCall is a simple and quiet man, who likes reading, listening to audiobooks, and drinking tea. He is also a reserved and modest man, who can be serious, stoic, or silent. He is a kind and loyal man, who respects his clients and friends. He is also a determined and disciplined man, who can overcome any obstacle or challenge with effort. Skills: The TV show Robert McCall is a skilled and experienced agent, who has worked for various agencies such as MI6, CIA, or DIA. He has a wide range of skills, such as espionage, intelligence, languages, diplomacy, or psychology. He also has access to various resources, such as contacts, informants, gadgets, or weapons. He prefers to use his brains rather than his brawns to solve problems or fight enemies. He often relies on his network of allies or associates to help him with his missions. The movie trilogy Robert McCall is a skilled and trained agent, who has worked for an agency called The Company. He has a specific set of skills, such as combat, tactics, weapons, or survival. He also has access to limited resources, such as tools, books, or vehicles. He prefers to use his hands rather than his guns to solve problems or fight enemies. He often works alone or with a few trusted friends to help him with his missions. Motivation: The TV show Robert McCall is motivated by guilt and redemption. He feels guilty for his past actions as an agent, which have caused harm or death to many people. He wants to redeem himself by helping people in need, using his skills and resources for good rather than evil. He also wants to make up for his mistakes as a father and husband, which have estranged him from his son Scott (played by William Zabka) and his ex-wife (played by Patricia Kalember). He hopes to reconnect with them someday. The movie trilogy Robert McCall is motivated by grief and justice. He grieves for his wife Vivian (played by Melissa Leo), who died of cancer before he retired from The Company. He wants to honor her memory by helping people in need, using his skills and resources for justice rather than revenge. He also wants to protect his daughter Delilah (played by Laya DeLeon Hayes), who lives with her mother (played by Sakina Jaffrey) in another city. He loves her dearly.

These are some of the similarities and differences between the TV show Robert McCall and the movie trilogy Robert McCall. They both share the same name and role as The Equalizer, but they have different appearances, personalities, skills, and motivations. They both represent different aspects of Robert McCall's character: the TV show Robert McCall is more refined and cultured; the movie trilogy Robert McCall is more raw and realistic.

Plot and theme: A comparison of the plot and theme in the TV show and the movie trilogy

The plot and theme of The Equalizer franchise are the elements that drive the story and convey the message of The Equalizer. They are also the elements that differentiate the TV show and the movie trilogy. There are some similarities and differences between the two versions of The Equalizer, such as:

Plot: The TV show plot is more episodic, while the movie trilogy plot is more continuous. The TV show plot consists of different cases or clients for Robert McCall in each episode. The cases or clients vary in their nature, scope, and complexity, ranging from personal issues to international affairs. The cases or clients also involve different genres, such as crime, drama, thriller, or comedy. The TV show plot follows a formulaic structure, with McCall receiving a call for help, investigating the situation, confronting the enemy, and resolving the problem. The TV show plot has some recurring elements, such as McCall's son Scott, his ex-wife, his friend Susan Plummer, or his enemies from his past. The movie trilogy plot consists of a main story arc for Robert McCall in each movie. The story arc is related to McCall's personal life or history, such as his wife's death, his daughter's safety, or his former colleagues' betrayal. The story arc also involves a main villain or threat, such as a Russian mobster, a rogue agent, or a corrupt politician. The movie trilogy plot follows a nonlinear structure, with McCall switching between his normal life and his vigilante activities, flashbacks to his past, and twists to his present. The movie trilogy plot has some standalone elements, such as McCall's clients or friends, who are not directly connected to the main story arc. Theme: The TV show theme is more diverse, while the movie trilogy theme is more focused. The TV show theme explores various topics and issues that are relevant or interesting for the viewers, such as justice, morality, violence, corruption, family, friendship, love, or identity. The TV show theme also reflects the social or cultural context of New York City in the 1980s, such as crime rates, drug abuse, racial tensions, political scandals, or technological innovations. The TV show theme challenges or questions the viewers' beliefs or values about these topics or issues, such as what is right or wrong, who is good or bad, how to help or hurt others, or who to trust or distrust. The movie trilogy theme explores a specific topic and issue that is central to Robert McCall's character and story: redemption. The movie trilogy theme examines how McCall deals with his guilt and grief over his past actions and losses, how he seeks to redeem himself by helping others in need, how he faces his enemies and demons from his past, and how he finds peace and happiness in his present. The movie trilogy theme also reflects the social or cultural context of Boston in the 21st century, such as terrorism, immigration, human trafficking, corporate greed, or environmental degradation. The movie trilogy theme inspires or motivates the viewers to follow McCall's example of redemption: to overcome their regrets or sorrows over their past mistakes or tragedies; to use their skills or resources for good rather than evil; to fight for justice rather than revenge; and to find meaning or joy in their lives.

These are some of the similarities and differences between the TV show plot and theme and the movie trilogy plot and theme. They both share the same premise and message of The Equalizer: a retired agent who helps people in need using his skills and resources. But they have different stories and styles of The Equalizer: the TV show plot and theme are more varied and complex; the movie trilogy plot and theme are more consistent and simple.

Supporting characters: A comparison of the supporting characters in the TV show and the movie trilogy

The supporting characters of The Equalizer franchise are the people who interact with Robert McCall in his missions or his life. They are also the people who add depth and diversity to The Equalizer. They are also the people who differ in the TV show and the movie trilogy. There are some similarities and differences between the two versions of The Equalizer, such as:

Susan Plummer: Susan Plummer is a recurring character in both the TV show and the movie trilogy. She is a former colleague and friend of Robert McCall, who provides him with information, support, and advice. She is played by Melissa Leo in the movies and by Maureen Anderman in the TV show. The TV show Susan Plummer is a CIA analyst, who works at a computer terminal in Langley, Virginia. She is a smart and resourceful woman, who can hack into any database or system. She is also a loyal and caring woman, who respects and trusts McCall. She often helps him with his cases or clients, either by giving him intel or by covering his tracks. She also has a personal life, such as having a husband (played by Keith Szarabajka) and a daughter (played by Tammy Lauren). The movie trilogy Susan Plummer is a DIA director, who works at an office in Washington, D.C. She is a powerful and influential woman, who can access any information or resource. She is also a brave and noble woman, who stands up for what is right. She sometimes helps McCall with his missions or problems, either by sending him backup or by warning him of danger. She also has a personal life, such as having a husband (played by Bill Pullman) and a dog. Delilah McCall: Delilah McCall is a new character in the movie trilogy. She is the daughter of Robert McCall, who lives with her mother (played by Sakina Jaffrey) in another city. She is played by Laya DeLeon Hayes. The movie trilogy Delilah McCall is a teenage girl, who attends high school and has dreams of becoming an artist. She is a talented and creative girl, who likes drawing, painting, or sculpting. She is also a sweet and loving girl, who adores her father. She often talks to him on the phone or visits him on holidays. She is unaware of his vigilante activities, but she senses that he has secrets and troubles. She tries to support him or cheer him up with her art or her words. Miles Whittaker: Miles Whittaker is another new character in the movie trilogy. He is a young man who works at the same hardware store as Robert McCall. He is played by Ashton Sanders. The movie trilogy Miles Whittaker is a troubled youth, who lives in a poor neighborhood and has a criminal record. He is a gifted and ambitious youth, who wants to become a painter or a graphic designer. He is also a curious and impressionable youth, who admires McCall and wants to learn from him. He gets involved in McCall's vigilante activities, either by witnessing them or by joining them. He also gets into trouble with a local gang, either by owing them money or by betraying them. Scott McCall: Scott McCall is an original character in the TV show. He is the son of Robert McCall, who lives with his mother (played by Patricia Kalember) in Los Angeles. He is played by William Zabka. The TV show Scott McCall is a young adult, who attends college and has aspirations of becoming a journalist or a writer. He is an intelligent and adventurous young man, who likes investigating stories or exploring places. He is also an estranged and rebellious young man, who resents his father for leaving him and his mother when he was young. He sometimes gets involved in his father's cases or clients, either by coincidence or by choice.

These are some of the similarities and differences between the TV show supporting characters and the movie trilogy supporting characters. They both share some common roles or functions for Robert McCall: Susan Plummer as his ally; Delilah McCall as his daughter; Miles Whittaker as his protégé; Scott McCall as his son (in the TV show only). But they have different personalities or backgrounds for Robert McCall: Susan Plummer as his friend; Delilah McCall as his joy; Miles Whittaker as his challenge; Scott McCall as his regret (in the TV show only).

Is the violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy too excessive and too racist?

The Equalizer movie trilogy is known for its high level of violence, as Robert McCall, played by Denzel Washington, uses his skills and resources to help people in need and to fight his enemies. The violence in the movies is often graphic, brutal, and realistic, showing blood, gore, and death in detail. The violence in the movies is also often directed at people of different races, ethnicities, or nationalities, such as Russians, Turks, or Italians, who are portrayed as the villains or the victims. The question is: is the violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy too excessive and too racist?

The answer to this question may depend on one's perspective, preference, or criteria. Some people may enjoy or appreciate the violence in the movies for its entertainment value, artistic merit, social relevance, or personal resonance. Some people may dislike or criticize the violence in the movies for its moral value, aesthetic quality, cultural sensitivity, or political correctness. Here are some possible arguments for and against the violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy:

For: The violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy is not too excessive or too racist, because: It serves a purpose and a message. The violence in the movies is not gratuitous or senseless; it is motivated and justified by the plot and the theme. The violence in the movies shows how McCall deals with his guilt and grief over his past actions and losses, how he seeks to redeem himself by helping others in need, how he faces his enemies and demons from his past, and how he finds peace and happiness in his present. The violence in the movies also conveys a moral lesson about justice and redemption: that one can overcome one's regrets or sorrows over one's past mistakes or tragedies; that one can use one's skills or resources for good rather than evil; that one can fight for justice rather than revenge; and that one can find meaning or joy in one's life. It reflects reality and diversity. The violence in the movies is not unrealistic or exaggerated; it is based on facts and research. The violence in the movies shows the actual methods and techniques that McCall uses to fight his enemies, such as hand-to-hand combat, improvised weapons, or tactical maneuvers. The violence in the movies also shows the actual consequences and impacts that McCall's actions have on his enemies, such as injuries, deaths, or arrests. The violence in the movies also shows the actual diversity and complexity of the world that McCall lives in, such as the different races, ethnicities, or nationalities that he encounters or helps, such as Russians, Turks, or Italians. The violence in the movies does not stereotype or discriminate these groups; it acknowledges their differences and similarities. Against: The violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy is too excessive and too racist, because: It glorifies and normalizes violence. The violence in the movies is not necessary or appropriate; it is excessive and gratuitous. The violence in the movies shows how McCall resorts to violence as his first and only solution to his problems, rather than using other means such as dialogue, negotiation, or compromise. The violence in the movies also shows how McCall enjoys and takes pride in his violence, rather than feeling remorse or regret for his actions. The violence in the movies also encourages and desensitizes viewers to violence, making them more likely to accept or emulate violence as a way of life. It perpetuates and reinforces racism. The violence in the movies is not fair or balanced; it is biased and discriminatory. The violence in the movies shows how McCall targets and harms people of different races, ethnicities, or nationalities more than people of his own race (black American), implying that they are more evil or less worthy than him. The violence in the movies also shows how McCall stereotypes and dehumanizes these groups, reducing them to their negative traits or behaviors (such as being criminals, terrorists, or corrupt), rather than recognizing their positive traits or potentials (such as being human beings with feelings, hopes, or dreams).

These are some possible arguments for and against the violence in the Equalizer movie trilogy. They are not definitive or objective answers; they are subjective and personal opinions. You might agree or disagree with them; you might have your own arguments based on your own perspective, preference, or criteria. The important thing is to respect both sides of the debate and to form your own opinion based on facts and logic.

Was Edward Woodward too old to be an “Equalizer” in the TV series? Was McCall of the TV series another version of Paul Kersey as played by Charles Bronson in the early films of Death Wish?

The Equalizer is a popular media franchise that features a retired agent who helps people in need using his skills and resources. The franchise originated with a TV series from 1985 to 1989 starring Edward Woodward as Robert McCall, the titular Equalizer. The TV series was later followed by a movie trilogy from 2014 to 2023 starring Denzel Washington as Robert McCall, and a reboot TV series from 2021 starring Queen Latifah as Robyn McCall. 1

The TV series was praised for its realistic and gritty portrayal of urban crime and violence, as well as its complex and charismatic protagonist. However, some viewers and critics have wondered if Edward Woodward was too old to be an Equalizer in the TV series, and if his character was another version of Paul Kersey, the vigilante hero of the Death Wish film series, played by Charles Bronson. Here are some possible answers to these questions:

Age: Edward Woodward was not too old to be an Equalizer in the TV series, because: He was in his 50s when he played Robert McCall, which is not an unrealistic or unreasonable age for a retired agent. In fact, his age added more credibility and depth to his character, as he had more experience and wisdom than younger agents. He also performed most of his own stunts, despite being in his 50s2 He was younger than Charles Bronson, who played Paul Kersey in the Death Wish film series. Bronson was in his 50s when he played Kersey in the first two films (1974 and 1982), and in his 60s when he played him in the last three films (1985, 1987, and 1994). Bronson's age was often criticized as being too old for his role, especially in the later films3 He was older than Denzel Washington, who played Robert McCall in the movie trilogy. Washington was in his 50s when he played McCall in the first two films (2014 and 2018), and in his 60s when he played him in the third film (2023). Washington's age was not an issue for his role, as he trained extensively for it and looked fit and agile4 Character: Robert McCall was not another version of Paul Kersey in the TV series, because: He had a different background and motivation than Paul Kersey. McCall was a former agent who worked for various agencies such as MI6, CIA, or DIA. He became an Equalizer after feeling guilty for his past actions as an agent, which caused harm or death to many people. He wanted to redeem himself by helping people in need, using his skills and resources for good rather than evil5 Kersey was an architect who became a vigilante after his wife and daughter were attacked by hoodlums. He wanted to avenge himself by killing criminals, using guns or weapons for justice rather than revenge6 He had a different personality and style than Paul Kersey. McCall was a sophisticated and cultured man, who enjoyed reading, listening to classical music, and drinking fine wine. He was also a witty and charming man, who could be sarcastic, humorous, or flirtatious. He preferred to use his brains rather than his brawns to solve problems or fight enemies. He often relied on his network of allies or associates to help him with his missions5 Kersey was a simple and quiet man, who liked working, gardening, and spending time with his family. He was also a reserved and modest man, who could be serious, stoic, or silent. He preferred to use his hands rather than his guns to solve problems or fight enemies. He often worked alone or with a few trusted friends to help him with his missions6

These are some possible answers to these questions. They are not definitive or objective answers; they are subjective and personal opinions. You might agree or disagree with them; you might have your own answers based on your own perspective, preference, or criteria. The important thing is to appreciate both versions of Robert McCall for what they are: two different interpretations of a common concept.

Conclusion: A summary and evaluation of the TV show and the movie trilogy

In this article, we have compared and contrasted the TV show and the movie trilogy of The Equalizer, a popular media franchise that features a retired agent who helps people in need using his skills and resources. We have looked at the similarities and differences between the two versions of The Equalizer in terms of plot, characters, theme, and style. We have also explored how the TV show and the movie trilogy reflect the social or cultural context of their time or place.

What can we conclude from this comparison and contrast? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each version of The Equalizer? Which version is better or worse, or more or less faithful to the original concept of The Equalizer? Here are some possible answers to these questions:

Strengths: The TV show has the strength of being more diverse and complex, while the movie trilogy has the strength of being more consistent and simple. The TV show offers more variety and depth in its plot, characters, theme, and style, making it more appealing and interesting for different audiences and tastes. The movie trilogy offers more coherence and clarity in its plot, characters, theme, and style, making it more accessible and understandable for general audiences and fans. Weaknesses: The TV show has the weakness of being more formulaic and dated, while the movie trilogy has the weakness of being more violent and repetitive. The TV show follows a predictable and rigid structure in its plot, which can make it boring or repetitive for some viewers. The TV show also shows its age in its theme and style, which can make it irrelevant or outdated for modern viewers. The movie trilogy relies heavily on action and gore in its plot, which can make it excessive or gratuitous for some viewers. The movie trilogy also repeats some elements or scenes in its plot, which can make it redundant or unoriginal for some viewers. Evaluation: The TV show and the movie trilogy are both good or bad, depending on how one evaluates them. The TV show and the movie trilogy can be evaluated based on different criteria or standards, such as entertainment value, artistic merit, social relevance, or personal preference. For example, one might prefer the TV show for its entertainment value, because it provides more fun and excitement with its different cases or clients. One might prefer the movie trilogy for its artistic merit, because it delivers more drama and emotion with its main story arc. One might prefer the TV show for its social relevance, because it addresses more topics and issues that are important or interesting for society. One might prefer the movie trilogy for its personal preference, because it resonates more with one's own experiences or values. Faithfulness: The TV show and the movie trilogy are both faithful or unfaithful to the original concept of The Equalizer, depending on how one defines it. The original concept of The Equalizer is a retired agent who helps people in need using his skills and resources. This concept can be interpreted or adapted in different ways, depending on the medium, genre, audience, or message. For example, one might consider the TV show to be more faithful to the original concept of The Equalizer, because it preserves more elements from the original source material, such as the name, role, appearance, personality, skills, motivation, allies, enemies, theme song, or creator of Robert McCall. One might consider the movie trilogy to be more faithful to the original concept of The Equalizer, because it captures more essence from the original spirit of The Equalizer: a man who seeks redemption by helping others.

These are some possible conclusions from this comparison and contrast. They are not definitive or objective answers; they are subjective and personal opinions. You might agree or disagree with them; you might have your own conclusions based on your own criteria or standards. The important thing is to appreciate both versions of The Equalizer for what they are: two different expressions of a common idea.

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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