While some fans may think thePirates of the Caribbeanfranchise belongs to the showboating swashbuckler Jack Sparrow, Elizabeth Swann remains one of the most beloved characters from the films due to her resourcefulness, brains, and beauty. She's become a role-model for youngpeople all over the world thanks to her believable character development, transcending her trappings as a lady of society and transforming into the Pirate King of the Brethren Court.
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With so much action on the high seas during the four films she was in, it's easy to miss some of the most intriguing aspects of her character. Taking a look back at her adventures, her metamorphosis reveals many mysteries that otherwise might have been lost to the depths.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Taleswas the fifth film of the franchise and intended to reboot it, but it failed to capture the imagination and entertainment of the original trilogy. It also destroyed Elizabeth's character.
She's given 2 minutes of screen time, and she's once again wearing a corset and gown like the prim and proper aristocratic lady she was in the first film. It's as though all of her character development into the Pirate King never happened.
WhenPirates of the Caribbean: At World's Endconcluded, fans were delighted to see Elizabeth wearing her Pirate King regalia, complete with a sword at her side. Even in the post credit scene featuring her ten year old son by Will Turner, she continued to wear clothing inspired by her pirate adventures.
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When she appears again inPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,she seems to have given up her identity as a former pirate to dress how a lady of society is expected to. Some viewers might have seen it as a sign of maturity, but for a woman like Elizabeth who wanted nothing more than to rip off her corset and sail the high seas, it seemed completely tone deaf.
Elizabeth Swann decides to raise her son on land instead of at sea while his father Will captains the Flying Dutchmen. It's never explained why she couldn't have raised her son on a ship, or taken a ship out to see his father in the middle of the ocean.
It wouldn't have voided Will's contract under the Dutchman, unless he was specifically sailing through alternate dimensions or to and from Davy Jones' Locker.
In the original script forPirates of the Caribbean,Jack Sparrow was a supporting character used to move the main plot along, which was focused on Will Turner saving Elizabeth Swann. He proved so popular however that he usurped the lovers' storyline and became the focus of the entire franchise.
Elizabeth and Will didn't even get to have a happy ending at the conclusion of the first three films they appeared in because Will became the captain of the Flying Dutchman, and it was Sparrow who sailed off into the sunset with the Black Pearl.
According to a Pirates of the Caribbeanpromotional interview with ScreenSlam, the character of Elizabeth Swann was originally intended to be a "damsel in distress" trope until Gore Verbinski and Keira Knightley decided to alter the character to have more agency.
As the series of films progressed, they worked together to specifically show a progression from an archetype that hada foundation in high-adventure literature -and Hollywood pirate films from the '30s and '40s- to something more modern, but her performance always paid homage to its roots.
When asked how she got into character, Keira Knightley often cited the corset Elizabeth had to wear as the biggest determinant. She explained that whenever it was on, she couldn't help but act more refined, especially since its tight application ensured she needed to be very economical with her words.
When it was removed, she was able to act more liberated, and become a more feral and energetic version of the character. Many times over he course of filming Knightley became light-headed from wearing it, especially since it whittled her figure down to a 20" waist.
When viewers first meet Elizabeth, she's 12 years old and making the crossing from England to Port Royal, Jamaica where her father will assume the position of governor. James Norrington, a lieutenant at the time, is 20.
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The main events of the film take place when Elizabeth is 20 and Norrington 28, and the disparity in their ages wouldn't have necessarily been problematic during the time period in which the film takes place, but knowing their history can be unsettling for some fans.
InPirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,Elizabeth steals the cursed piece of Aztec gold from around Will Turner's neck, preventing Norrington and his men from accusing him of being a pirate. Years later when she falls into the water with it around her neck, it sends out a pulse that calls tothe Black Pearl and its cursed crew.
They return to Port Royal to steal it from her, but if the gold coin sends a signal to those it cursed when it touches the sea, it should have sent a signal when Will Turner went overboard as a young boy, causing the Pearl to turn around and claim its prize.
For many fans of the couple, Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner are considered romantic. They are willing to do whatever it takes across several films to save each other's lives, even if it means sacrificing their own.
On closer inspection however, their relationship is actually unhealthy, and determined by co-dependent behaviors that don't let them grow as individuals. By the time he becomes the new captain of the Flying Dutchman, they finally learn to appreciate each other.
After being named the Pirate King and successfully winning the Pirate War, Elizabeth Swann seemingly retired back to Port Royal after the battle to raise her son. No scene was filmed that sheds light onto who she passed her crown to.
For all viewers knew, she could have retained the title since nothing indicated she selected a successor. Presumably it was a title she could have passed onto her son when he came of age.
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Kayleena has been raised on Star Wars and Indiana Jones from the crib. A film buff, she has a Western collection of 250+ titles and counting that she's particularly proud of. When she isn't writing for ScreenRant, CBR, or The Gamer, she's working on her fiction novel, lifting weights, going to synthwave concerts, or cosplaying. With degrees in anthropology and archaeology, she plans to continue pretending to be Lara Croft as long as she can.
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