What’s the Connection Between ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’?

A new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film is set to arrive this May, and while plot details have been kept to a minimum, some answers may be hiding in plain sight. Oh, here’s what an understanding of ‘Star Wars’ universe can tell us about the plot of the new ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ film.

In the trailer, we meet a young man, unnamed but known in press releases as Henry (Brenton Thwaites), who is confronted by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), the captain of a Ghostly Crew (because all the villain crews in the Pirates of the Caribbean series are supernaturally themed). Henry is wearing a necklace, one the audience has seen before.

A similar necklace as worn by Will Turner at the end of the third film, At Worlds End. Why would this new character be wearing the necklace? All signs seem to be pointing to him being the son of William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightly).

In a statement by the Mirror when Brenton Thwaites was cast says Henry “is a young man who tries to reconnect with his father. He struggles to break a curse that is preventing him from doing so”. A missing father who is bound by a curse separating him from his son, with said son looking to break the curse and free his father to be reunited? Sounds like Will with his father Bootstrap Bill.

So aside from the necklace, the similar sounding nature between Henry’s history and Will’s, as well as the fact that Bloom is confirmed to return and Knightly is rumored to have shot a scene what other proof is there to the theory that Henry is the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan? How about Orlando Bloom himself?

In a 2014 interview with IGN while promoting The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Orlando Bloom stated, “Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son.” Bloom misused the term reboot but the sentiment still sounds accurate considering the information given. This story is about a young man with the last name of Turner has never known his father. What the man doesn’t know is his father was a pirate and the only man who knew his father and can help the young man find out the mysteries of his past… Captain Jack Sparrow.

That is the plot to the first film in the Pirates franchise, Curse of the Black Pearl which was released 14 years ago (let that sink in). Disney is borrowing from its own playbook and using the same technique that worked so well with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. To create a franchise sequel that also acts as an in-continuity reboot. This allows it to be connected to the original series while being used as a jumping off point for new viewers. The attempt of mirroring the original film creates a sense of nostalgia for old viewers while being a remake/new to anyone not familiar with the material. Aside from mirroring the first film in their respected franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales and Force Awakens also feature an iconic character treated as a legend who is “missing” (Jack Sparrow/Luke Skywalker) with our main villain out to find the missing hero (Captain Salazar/Kylo Ren). Many pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

Dead Men Tell No Tales acting as a Force Awakens style legacy sequel further ties into the shared history between Pirates of the Caribbean to Star Wars. The Pirates films have very similar plot details to the original Star Wars films and sort of acted as a substitute trilogy for a generation where the prequels were disappointing fans and critics (Lord of the Rings gets compared as well, yet that was a novel before Star Wars was made, whereas Pirates is a mostly original film franchise).

  • Curse of the Black Pearl/Star Wars: First film is a basic adventure story with two male heroes (Will and Jack/Luke and Han) trying to rescue a damsel but not in distress (Elizabeth/Princess Leia) from the clutches of a sinister villain (Barbosa/Darth Vader). One of our heroes has a mysterious father figure who we will find out about in later films (Will/Luke It’s a stand-alone adventure story.
  • Dead Man’s Chest/Empire Strikes Back: the Second film is your darker installment, splitting up the main heroes into two groups on different narratives. You have the pirates and the princess on one ship (Jack and Elizabeth aboard the Black Pearl/Han and Leia aboard the Falcon) while the other hero is on a journey to discover a history about his father (Luke Skywalker/Will Turner). One of our heroes commits an act of self-sacrifice and is taken off as payment for a debt they owe (Jack Sparrow is dragged to the bottom of the ocean on payment for Davy Jones/Han is frozen in carbonite taken off to Jabba the Hutt). Our heroes spirits are broken and they unite to go on a mission to save their friend.
  • At World’s End/Return of the Jedi: the Third film dedicates the opening 30 minutes to the heroes going off to save captured friend from their imprisonment (Jack in the Locker/Han in Jabba’s palace). Once the hero is saved they go off to the main plot which includes a climactic battle between the outlaw heroes against a tyrannical establishment (the pirate cove/rebel alliance VS the East Indian Trading Company/The Galactic Empire). Our heroes father goes from the dark side to the light by acting to save their sons and turn on their masters (Bootstrap bill betrays Davy Jones/Darth Vader betrays The Emperor).
  • On Stranger Tides/The Prequels: lets audiences down by abandoning so much of what fans love about the original film and they go back to the drawing board with the next film planned to bring back fans of the original and recapture the original magic that made audiences fall in love with the franchise. Namely in bringing back all the old faces while setting up a brand-new group of heroes.

This could be one reason why Pirates hit such a chord with audiences. It was a classic adventure story with heroes and villains, sword fights and shoot outs, that was born into the world in need of a good old fashion adventure (much like Star Wars arrived after the turbulent 70’s with Watergate and Vietnam War, Pirates arrived just 2 years after 9/11 and a few months before the US went to war). This was a story that people needed. It touched a familiar chord with an audience that people may not have realized at first.

The question is now asked if Pirates had so many similarities to the original Star Wars trilogy and acted as a stand in as a new Star Wars for a new generation, what place do the films have in a world where not only is Star Wars back, but we get one every year? Star Wars is even under the same banner of Disney.

To paraphrase Beckett from Dead Man’s Chest “the blank spaces on the release schedule are filling up, Jack must find a place in the new blockbuster world or perish”.

During the early part of the 2000’s the biggest franchise were the Star Wars prequels, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean. 2007 was the last time 5 of these franchises were in their heyday, with Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, all dominating the month of May, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was still going strong and Transformers was blowing it up in July. Jump forward 4 years in 2011 and Transformers was finishing its trilogy, Shrek‘s spin-off Puss and Boots failed to register, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 ended the epic franchise, and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides didn’t click with audiences and critics with a change in director and cast.

The Amazing Spider-Man, a reboot of the Spider-Man series was a year away and so was The Hobbit, but in 2012 the film world changed with the release of The Avengers. Now it is a post-Marvel Cinematic Universe world. In 2017, The Hobbit came and went, Harry Potter is starting a new spin-off franchise to compete with the new Star Wars films, Spider-Man is being rebooted for the third time, Transformers is starting a cinematic universe, and Shrek is gearing up for a new film. It’s been six years since we last saw Captain Jack Sparrow (that was a longer wait then the 4 years wait between At World’s End and On Stranger Tides) and has been 10 years since At World’s End.

A whole legacy, nostalgic memories for a generation of fans, but where do they go?

Could Disney be heading towards a massive team-up film? With the sixth film acting as a finale/new beginning by bringing in elements from the previous three films as well as the mostly forgotten On Stranger Tides. They did end that film with an after-credit moment of Penélope Cruz’s character Angelica finding a voodoo doll of Jack Sparrow. Cruz husband, Javier Bardem is joining the franchise as the villain Captain Salazar so one would have to imagine we haven’t seen the last of Cruz. Plenty of routes to take the Pirates franchise, and maybe one day it will be able to set sail without Captain Jack Sparrow at the helm.
What began as a simple speculation about the plot of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie turned into realizing the parallel the franchise had with Star Wars and looking forward to the future of the series by looking to its past. Has this franchise run its course? Well any of this speculation ring true?

Find out when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales arrives in theaters on May 26th, 2017.

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