Why the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Franchise Should Not Be Touched


By: Amanda Guarragi 

After nearly a decade, since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was released in 2003, there has been confirmation from Disney that there will be, not one reboot, but TWO reboots, of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. One is a stand-alone film in the Pirates franchise and it is not considered a sequel, reboot or spin-off. Margot Robbie is set to star and Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson, is set to write the screenplay. The other film, is in fact, a spin-off, which was rumoured as a Disney+ series. It has a $100 million budget and is headed by Chernobyl creator, Craig Mazin and Ted Elliot (who wrote for the previous Pirate franchise), in order to take it in a fresh direction.

Here is the thing, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most solid, live action, Disney adventure films, that they have in their library. The women in the franchise, have always elevated the story, especially Pirate King Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). The others that come to mind, are Anamaria (Zoe Saldana), Tia Dalma or Calypso (Naomie Harris), Angelica (Penélope Cruz) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario). They have all made their mark on screen, there have been women at the forefront, in each of the Pirates films, so to make two spin-offs, that are female led, discredits the work these women put into their roles.

It is a franchise that cannot function without Captain Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann or Will Turner and I will stand by that. After having a marathon of the five films myself. I can honestly say, that whatever Disney attempts to do with these female led reboots, they will never come close to what they had almost 20 years ago. The way Disney makes their films now, is completely different than how they made them 20 years ago and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Their storytelling has changed and it seems that they cannot create a darker atmosphere for their films anymore. It is always light hearted fun and the characterizations are at surface value.

While watching The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), I felt an instant wave of nostalgia and I was surprised, that I watched this as a young child because the film is scary. It has this dark, eerie, ghost story feel to it, from the very beginning. Verbinski managed to hook you within the very first scene and make you want to learn all about Pirate mythology. The story is pretty haunting for a young child to watch, as the curse makes Pirates, who are aboard the Black Pearl, change into skeletons when there is a full moon. The special effects were so well done, it still blows my mind to this day, that everything was smoothly rendered. It was not a film for young children, whatsoever, but it is still in the Disney library.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom 

Dead Man’s Chest (2006) is my favourite out of the entire saga. It takes all we have learned from the first instalment and amplified it by 100. The action sequences, side deals and manipulation, made a great impression on so many people. The CGI for Davy Jones was exceptional and Bill Nighy gave a solid performance. Jones and his whole crew, were horrific sea creatures and it was so well done. Each movement that was rendered, felt so lifelike and authentic, that it still gives me nightmares. The battles between ships were also elevated and the design for ‘The Flying Dutchman’ was perfect. Not only was this a perfect sequel, but it had one of the best cliffhangers of the decade.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) David Bailie, Mackenzie Crook, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

It bumped the stakes going into the third instalment At World’s End (2007) and kept us waiting for an entire year. The score is probably Hans Zimmer’s best Pirate score to date because of the heart thumping undertones, that he used throughout for Davy Jones’ theme. It was really effective and it did not overpower the classic Pirates theme. Heading into the third one, Captain Jack Sparrow is in the depths of Davy Jones’ locker. While Will, Elizabeth and the rest of the crew head to Tia Dalma’s, to find out Commodore Barbossa is still alive. Everyone wants to save Jack and bring him back, but they need to travel to the ends of the world to go save him.

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Courtesy of Disney, (left) Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley, Johnny Depp 

At World’s End is such an exciting final instalment to the trilogy because it explores all the Pirate Lords, who hold one of the nine pieces. The Pirate mythology is so well thought out and presented in Singapore. Everyone is pretty much a Pirate in this film, including former Commodore James Norrington. Lord Cutler Beckett also became a fantastic villain with the East India Trading Company because he wanted to abolish piracy forever. We are also introduced to the Brethren Court in Singapore with Captain Sao Feng (Chow Yun Fat), who is the Pirate Lord of the South China Sea. There were so many big players and moving pieces in this, which made for one of the most exhilarating third acts for a third instalment.

Gore Verbinski’s trilogy was so well written because they had a clear plan from the start. You could see the foreshadowing and where the story was going to go after each film. That is how you set up a trilogy. There was always anticipation for the next film because of how invested you became in these characters. The most impressive character arc, in this whole trilogy is Elizabeth Swann’s, she broke free from her role as Governor’s daughter, learned how to deal with pirates and the high seas, leading her to eventually become a Pirate Lord! Talk about amazing character development. If you really look at this trilogy, the focus may have been on Captain Jack Sparrow, but the underdog in all this, that truly stole the spotlight was Elizabeth Swann because you do grow to love her.

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Courtesy of Disney, (front) Keira Knightley 

The trilogy is perfect on it’s own. So when Disney pressed for a fourth instalment with On Stranger Tides (2011), nearly five years later, directed by Rob Marshall, it felt like it was an afterthought. At the end of the third one, they did allude to the fountain of youth and that Captain Jack wanted to travel there. They did leave it open ended but the only flaw in this film, was that Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann did not return with Jack. Instead we are introduced to Angelica (Penélope Cruz), who felt like a mirror of Jack, which was very fun to play with. It was also a Blow (2001) reunion for Cruz and Depp.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz

In this journey, Captain Jack Sparrow loses his first mate Gibbs and has a run in with King George the Second, who insists that he should guide him on an expedition to the fountain of youth. We then see that Commodore Barbossa has joined the British navy and will join Jack. His old flame Angelica, has been impersonating him this whole time and Jack finds out that she is the daughter, of the infamous Captain Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who uses voodoo magic and wields the ‘Mythical Sword of Triton’ to control his ship, the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’.

It was a fun movie and they did want to see, if they could make a side journey, without Will and Elizabeth but it just seemed empty without them. It is always great to explore different characters like Syrena (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), who was the first mermaid that we had seen in the franchise and to see various Pirates from mythology. It wasn’t the strongest Pirates film but we did get to know Jack a bit more, even though the writing for him in this one was weaker than the previous instalments.

The final and fifth instalment in the Pirates trilogy, was Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, which takes place six years after the fourth film. Will and Elizabeth return to save the franchise. It is now thirteen years after At World’s End and their son, Henry Turner is now aboard ‘The Flying Dutchman’ with his father. Apparently he knows of a way, to break the curse, that binds his father to the ship and needs to seek out Captain Jack Sparrow for help. In order to help his father, he needs the ‘Trident of Poseidon’ and ventures to ‘The Devil’s Triangle’.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Kaya Scodelario, Johnny Depp and Brenton Thwaites

All the big players come back and we are introduced to yet, another Pirate, Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), who is the undead Captain of the ‘Silent Mary’. Henry somehow joins the British Navy, in order to find the Devil’s Triangle and runs into Salazar. He then has a message for Jack Sparrow, that he is, in fact, going after him. Carina is on trial for being a witch, but is simply a young astronomer and horologist, who makes a quick escape and runs into Jack. It is a bit convoluted but the one thing the Pirates franchise does well, is develop their characters enough to make you like them.

Loose ends are definitely tied up, as the Turner family is reunited, Barbossa finds his long lost daughter and Jack is reunited with his crew, his ship and his love for adventure on the high seas. It was possibly the only way to end this franchise on a high note, while still leaving a little bit of mystery in the post credit scene, with the connection that Davy Jones and Will Turner share.

Courtesy of Disney, (left) Orlando Bloom and Lewis McGowan

The Pirates franchise as a whole, is a fantastic adventure franchise, when you see how they handle their characters. The original trilogy is done so well, that it definitely can make you forget the final two instalments. It is such a great franchise and I think a reboot, spin-off or even a sequel is not the greatest idea because the momentum is gone. It will always be treasured and I think developing new, original, adventure films with women at the forefront is the better way to go. We all know that everyone will be comparing these reboots to its predecessor and that’s harmful for female led films.

Disney has changed drastically and has only been focusing on remaking the films they already have in their library. Yes, you can perceive it as making content for a new generation but I was raised on their older classics and I loved them just as much. Like many other films that shouldn’t be touched, this is one of them because I personally think it is too soon to flip this script and not have the original cast present because they are the ones that made it iconic. I highly recommend giving these films a rewatch because they do hold up years later.

Courtesy of Disney, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

6 Gems to Keep in Mind While Watching ‘Avengers: Endgame’ (SPOILER WARNING)

After eleven years and twenty-two movies later, the “Infinity Saga” has officially come to an end.

Marvel President, Kevin Feige had an idea, to build a franchise that is all interconnected and would eventually culminate the longform story structure into a daring finale.

It’s easier to breakdown what happened and look over the MCU as a whole. So, here are the major clues from other films in the MCU, which will all make sense while watching “Avengers: Endgame”

The most important question after watching “Infinity War” is “What happened after the snap?”

Thanos believed that he restored balance to the universe by wiping out 50% of humanity. At the end of “Infinity War”, we see that half of the heroes have vanished and the original Avengers have stayed back.

Before vanishing, Doctor Strange went forward in time and saw all the possible outcomes before fighting Thanos. He then gave up the time stone to Thanos in order to carry out the proper plan to defeat him. As “Sorcerer Supreme” it was his duty to protect the time stone because it’s a power source for him, so when he gave up the stone to Thanos, in exchange to save Tony Stark’s life, there must have been a reason for him to do so. The time stone is a major player going into “Endgame” because of the one outcome that can save them all.

At the beginning of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Scott Lang is alive, as he pops out of the Quantum Realm. He has an idea to use the realm and pinpoint an exact moment in time so they can time travel. It’s a simple plan and it’s the only option the Avengers have to get everyone back. Scott Lang was actually one of the best characters in Endgame because he had a lot to lose, he DID NOT stop fighting for his family, even when he had to talk Tony Stark into conducting this “time heist”. The trials that they conducted with Bruce Banner made for quite an entertaining schtick before Tony jumps in and saves the day with his “time gps”. The original 6, plus Nebula, Rocket and Rhodie all enter the realm and travel back to specific moments from previous films in which the stones appeared in. This was such a beautiful idea from the Russo’s, to incorporate the important moments for their characters and memorable ones for audiences.

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The previous films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all been perfectly placed to lead up to ““Endgame””, starting with the first ““Avengers”” movie. The “Battle of New York” changed the trajectory of all the characters, but most importantly Tony Stark’s character arc. In this film, Tony Stark is introduced to space for the first time. He battled Loki and the Chitauri, which were from another realm. These aliens completely destroyed New York and from that moment, Tony Stark made it a point to create more weapons to keep the entire world safe. The aftermath of this film affected Tony Stark’s mental health, which was carried out in “Iron Man 3”. He had post traumatic stress disorder and was obsessed with building more suits, so he would always be protected. It wasn’t until “Age of Ultron” where his ultimate fear was revealed, due to Scarlet Witch and her mind control. She made him see the fate of The Avengers and it was death by Thanos. Since “Age of Ultron” Tony Stark had a personal vendetta against Thanos because of how obsessive he had become in keeping his loved ones safe from the Mad Titan. Tony Stark’s character arc is the most important heading into “Endgame” because of everything that he has been through with Thanos. The Marvel Cinematic Universe began with Tony Stark, so it is only fitting that he avenges the lives that were lost.

One of the most powerful Avengers also undergoes one of biggest transformations and the God of Thunder changes after the events in “Thor: The Dark World”. In this film the reality stone is discovered by Dr. Jane Foster on Earth. Jane noticed that various portals have appeared around her area and the laws of physics had been suspended. She entered this abandoned building, where the power was at its strongest and she ends up entering another realm. After entering she is infected with the “Aether”, otherwise known as the reality stone. Thor’s father, Odin, then warns Thor that Jane is out of reach and he can no longer track her whereabouts. He then goes to save Jane and they have to remove the “aether” from her body. He brings Jane to Asgard in order to keep her safe because an enemy force wants the “Aether”. In order to keep her and the stone safe, Thor’s mother, Frigga ends up sacrificing herself in order to protect Jane from the Dark Elves. In this film, Thor loses his mother and renounces the throne. He becomes more humble and acknowledges his own faults. As Thor navigates his way through the other films he finally comes into his own in “Thor:Ragnarok”, he had a purpose to protect his people. In “Infinity War”, Thor is the one to attack Thanos with all the power he had gained from his axe “Stormbreaker” and he unleashed it in Wakanda. Thor took on Thanos on his own and went to stab his heart. Unfortunately, Thanos was still able to snap his fingers and complete his plan. Thor then becomes our discouraged hero and blames himself for not doing the right thing. Thor falls off the wagon into a depression that leaves him struggling to find out who he is instead of who he is supposed to be.

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The first sign of Thanos retrieving the infinity stones was during “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1”. The power stone was locked up on planet Morag and Peter Quill was able to retrieve it, not knowing the contents of the orb. In this film, Thanos sends Nebula and Gamora to go retrieve the orb. Gamora ends up making contact with Quill and the battle for the orb continues throughout the film. Gamora sees what her father, Thanos has done to the universe and ends up protecting the power stone, instead of giving it to him. At this point, Thanos loses Gamora to the Guardians and begins to search for the stones on his own. The Guardians ended up giving the power stone to the Nova Corps in order to keep it safe. Thanos began to recruit his own army, known as The Black Order, in order to retrieve the stones. They destroyed planets and many lives were lost while trying to uncover these stones.

Another issue ‘The Avengers’ face when they head into the Quantum Realm is that they were all clueless about the soul stone. Thanos is the only one who has ever ventured to Voromir and in exchange for the stone, he had to sacrifice his daughter. Clint and Natasha were sent there without any knowledge of the decision they had to make in order to retrieve the stone. This could have all been avoided if Nebula actually told the full story of her sister Gamora’s death. The soul stone is not easy to retrieve and even Scott Lang knew it was a bad idea, since he opted out. What is very unfortunate is that Black Widow was the most excited to get the stones and return back to the present and it didn’t happen for her. Black Widow’s ending made sense because she finally had a family and she would do anything for them, including sacrificing herself. We’re getting a Black Widows standalone anyway and I’m sure it will have better characterization than what she had in previous movies.

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The most important thing to take away from the “Infinity Saga” coming to an end is that Stan Lee was fortunate enough to watch his comic panels come to life. Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby all contributed to this universe and their work will live on forever. From the writing, witty characters and special cameos, it’s a real treat to be a Marvel fan because of how dedicated everyone has been in doing these characters justice.

So in the words of Stan Lee,

Excelsior and enjoy Avengers: Endgame.