Can Margot Robbie save Pirates of the Caribbean from irrelevance? – The Guardian

Posted: July 5, 2020 at 10:15 am

How intriguing that Pirates of the Caribbean should be looking to Margot Robbie to lift the saga from the depths and out, once again, into the West Indian sunlight. The series has regularly dipped its toe into the potentially bountiful narrative trope of the female pirate surviving and thriving in a mans world, with Keira Knightley, Penlope Cruz, Zoe Saldana and, latterly, Kaya Scodelario among those to have swished cutlasses and swung from the rigging.

And yet the saga has had its issues with gender representation. Scodelario spent most of 2017s Dead Men Tell No Tales being ogled by Johnny Depps much older Captain Jack Sparrow. Previously, Knightleys journey from damsel in distress to (briefly) pirate king of the famed nine pirate lords ended with her back on land and spending her days longing for the once-a-decade return of Orlando Blooms tedious Will Turner.

As a fantasy series in which ancient gods prowl the oceans, immortality is real and our barmy buccaneers can switch from life to living death at the touch of a magic gold sovereign, you might think Pirates of the Caribbean would have little need for historical realism. Yet the idea of a female pirate surviving at sea for long without having to disguise herself as a man (like the real-life 18th-century figures Anne Bonny and Mary Read, as well as Cruzs Angelica in 2011s On Stranger Tides) seems even more fanciful than the existence of a fountain of youth. Having a woman on board was often considered to be bad luck during the golden age of piracy, because captains feared their presence would cause crew members to fight among themselves. And yet, it seems highly unlikely that Disney would consider transforming the swashbuckling series into a scurvy seadog take on Albert Nobbs even if that story is surely a fascinating one that will one day be told far away from the world of blockbuster cinema.

Margot Robbie, if she ends up signing on the dotted line, wont exactly be stepping into Depps well-worn boots. There remain separate plans for a reboot in the main Pirate timeline, though it is unclear at this stage whether Captain Jack Sparrow would make an appearance in the wake of Depps on- and off-screen struggles in recent years. If the Robbie project takes off, it is easy to see Disney quietly putting any other plans back in Davy Joness locker to focus on what works. Theres little doubt the studio sees the new film as a star vehicle for the Australian actor, or it would not have hired Robbies Birds of Prey screenwriter Christina Hodson to work on the script.

Hodson also wrote Transformers spinoff Bumblebee, miraculously taking a franchise that was once so macho that you wondered if the Autobots and Decepticons ran on pure testosterone and working it into a gentle, pleasingly complex coming-of-age tale that seemed to have more in common with the Iron Giant, ET or Disneys Big Hero 6. The studio will no doubt be hoping that she can work similar magic on Pirates of the Caribbean, which at its best was a joyous chance to catch top-notch character actors such as Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane at the peak of their furniture-chewing powers, but at its worst descended into lazy, sexist retread territory with plots eventually becoming so foggy and convoluted that most of us would rather have joined Joness doomed crew on the Flying Dutchman rather than be forced to unravel them.

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Can Margot Robbie save Pirates of the Caribbean from irrelevance? - The Guardian

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