Since Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) debuted, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has been an unlikely hit. The franchise, which director Gore Verbinski (The Ring) has said was thought to be “doomed to fail”, has given rise to five films, changes to Disney Parks Pirates of the Caribbean rides around the world, and, perhaps most iconic of all, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow.
Unfortunately, actor Depp has been embroiled in a bitter legal battle with his ex-wife Amber Heard (Aquaman, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) for months.
Last fall, the Pirates of the Caribbean star lost his libel case against U.K. News Group Newspaper publication, The Sun, after they published an article in which Heard claimed Depp had domestically abused her on multiple occasions. Depp’s lawyer, his exes Vanessa Paradis and Winona Rider, and the Hollywood star himself have all vehemently denied the accusations of domestic abuse.
Nonetheless, as a result of the libel lawsuit ruling, Depp lost his two biggest roles — Jack Sparrow in the Pirates franchise and Gellert Grindelwald in Warner Bros. Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts series. Margot Robbie is seemingly set to helm the reported Pirates of the Caribbean 6 as a new character and Mads Mikkelsen has taken over for Fantastic Beasts 3.
Now, though, Captain Jack Sparrow is back — and it’s actually, surprisingly, a catastrophe for Disney.
In a recent “Sea of Thieves” video game expansion, Sparrow returned. IGN shared the news on June 13 and the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed update, which also includes characters like Davy Jones and Tia Dalma, dropped on June 22:
Sea of Thieves A Pirate’s Life, a Disney collaboration featuring Jack Sparrow, is coming free to the game June 22.
Sea of Thieves A Pirate's Life, a Disney collaboration featuring Jack Sparrow, is coming free to the game June 22. pic.twitter.com/yI7ptIDhyA
— IGN (@IGN) June 13, 2021
As ScreenRant noted, this timing could not be worse for The Walt Disney Company, who is trying to reboot Jerry Bruckheimer’s POTC franchise without its singular star:
The entire trailer for Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life centers around the return of Jack Sparrow, even if it is in DLC form. The subsequent oversized internet reaction proves that the character still has a huge fanbase that may be bigger than the general Pirates of the Caribbean fandom. Much like the increased focus on Depp’s Sparrow in the later Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, the game’s marketing choosing to focus on this angle proves that the franchise is still centered around the character in the mind of the public and, crucially, relies on his appeal for its hype.
Essentially, this update is doing the one thing Disney should probably be shying away from at this point — hyping the Jack Sparrow character.
With over half-a-million fans already petitioning for Depp to return to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in his iconic role, it seems that Walt Disney Studios may very well find themselves at a crossroads — they will either have to listen to the movie fans who have been loyal to their favorite swashbuckling Black Pearl Captain for nearly 20 years, or they will have to attempt to reboot a floundering franchise without the character they are still relying on for success.
The complete list of POTC films is:
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides(2011)
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)
What do you think? Should Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow be brought back by Disney execs?