A white woman with wet hair points a gun while standing on a ship in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise films
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

If We Must Reboot Pirates of the Caribbean, Then Make It About Elizabeth Swann

Yo ho, yo ho, a Pirate King's life for me.

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Yesterday, the news broke that what is dead may never die and that Disney was in talks to reboot the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Jerry Bruckheimer is still set to produce, but there is no word on if any of the cast, including Johnny Depp, are set to return as well.

Naturally, we’re taking this as a sign that we’re all in the Bad Place, but maybe something good can come of this all if the writers opt to not make the story about Jack Sparrow (or whoever the new Jack is, like Tom Pigeon or whatever), but rather make it about a female pirate. Especially if they go full reboot and actually re-center the narrative around Elizabeth Swann.

Played by Keira Knightly in the original trilogy, Elizabeth went from sheltered governor’s daughter to Pirate King. She kicked serious ass with a sword, never took no for an answer, and would have saved the day and the freedom of pirates everywhere if the writers hadn’t decided to sideline her with grief during the final battle. The trilogy ended with her settling down to wait for her beloved Will (Orlando Bloom) to come home, which was pretty bogus since the Elizabeth we all knew and loved would’ve sailed the seas to try and find a way to free Will from his curse. The curse of male writers strikes again, it seems.

A reboot could be a way to finally give Elizabeth the justice her character deserves. We could re-frame the entire saga around her journey, rather than around a mildly amusing actor pretending like he’s in a British rock band (Johnny Depp, this is a call-out post for you). Make her the center of the story, and maybe give Will a little more depth than just “I love girl! Girl nice! Fight with sword!” because while Will Turner was a childhood crush for me, he didn’t get that much to do.

Even if it’s not about Elizabeth, make it about a woman. I’m tired of reboots and reimaginings that center on the same white male characters as their original properties. Have a woman take Jack Sparrow’s place as the feisty pirate lead, and have her opponent be an equally ferocious pirate queen in the vein of Barbossa. Cast more actors of color in the roles too, because the first Pirates films were very, very white. Basically, shake it up and don’t just rely on hoping that whatever famous white guy you cast in the lead can live up to the audience expectations of Jack Sparrow.

Admittedly, I do not have much hope for this. The writers of this project are safe choices for Disney, and their hiring probably indicates that Disney will simply retread the same steps and not try anything new.

If I’m wrong, I’ll happily be wrong. But instead, we’re living inside a Mike Schur extended joke sequence because we’re doomed to see Pirates 15 with the same quirky lead and lack of development for any characters. The Pirate life may not be, in fact, for me.

(via Deadline; image: Disney)

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Kate Gardner
Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.