Friday, May 27, 2011

Captain Jack Sparrow: Then and Now.

     After seeing the first Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, I came to a conclusion; Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the greatest characters ever created. But after 3 more movies, is this still the case? And if not....why?...

     One can not deny the coolness of Jack Sparrow, but I noticed that something is different about his character in his character in "Curse of the Black Pearl" than the 3 Pirates movies that came after it. And there isn't just one reason for this.

     Confidence and control: yes, millions of women around the world are (or were) in love with an alcoholic with no hygiene, nappy hair, and no job. (No, "Pirate" is not a job) and how is this possible? well...other than the fact that he's a fictional ideal representation of someone who rides the open freedom of the sea? it's the confidence. Jack Sparrow was confident. Even when shit was going wrong, he had a way of making you think it was all part of the plan. The first shot we ever see of him is proudly sailing into town......on a broken, sinking ship. But no matter, he stood aloft the mast as if to show he was the God of the sea and the situation. He was in control......even if he really wasn't.
     This persona is shown many times throughout the first movie from laying on the ground in a cell as if to say "I don't give a shit" to that smirk he gives when Will says "Here they come" when the ship "Interceptor" is closing in on them. Even when Norrington says "You are with out doubt the worst pirate I have ever heard of", Jack Sparrow simply says the one thing that would win the argument: "....But you have heard of me". A Perfect response. He just took control of the conversation away from Norrington, and made his image go from "slacker pirate" to "Legend" simply by emphasizing one word in Norrington's phrase. You know that moment where you're arguing with someone, and afterwards, you think to yourself something that would have really won the argument for you, but it's too late to say anything? Yeah, Jack Sparrow never had that problem in the first movie, and if he did, he never showed it. Because he understood that it wasn't what you do or what you say, but how people perceive it that matters in a pirate's world (and ours).
       In the Pirates movies that followed, Jack Sparrow seemed to have lost much of that confidence and control. He had his moments for sure, but he had gone from stylishly escaping norringtons men in the first movie to running, flailing and screaming while escaping the native cannibals in the 2nd movie. True he met the Kraken head on swinging, but that didn't make up for the fact that he had turned into more of a bumbling idiot who calls a heart a "thump thump" and squealed in fright when Davey Jones yelled in his face in the final throwdown in "At Worlds End". They seemed to lower his intelligence, smarts, and swager for the sake of making "comic relief". They took away drunk Han Solo and gave us a caricature of the Jack Sparrow we once knew. A cartoon who could never live up to the origional rendition, and all because "The kids will love it".

        Bad Assery: Jack Sparrow was a bad ass if ever there was one. Remember that scene where he holds Elizabeth Swan as a hostage, gets his gear back, Says "This will be the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow", then escapes in an impossible yet bad ass way? That was awesome! That was him letting us know "Yeah, i'm funny, but i'll take a hostage and use her...yes, her as a human shield to escape danger. And among all of this, the one thing he has been pining for is to shoot and kill his former first mate to get his ship back. Everything else came 2nd to him. He was a man with a plan, and he was the chess master moving the pieces into place to achieve his goal.

       Secondary character: Captain Jack Sparrow was one man in a multi character story, and and that's where he fit best. With not making Jack Sparrow the lead, they were free to keep his character in a grey area between hero and villain. He was a perfect rogue character. Without allegiance except to himself, manipulative, cunning, funny, and smart. He was like i've said before a modern day Han Solo. He wasn't the main character, but he stole the spotlight. In every Pirates movie after that, Jack Sparrow was the main character. He didn't have to steal the spotlight, it was already given to him. Jack Sparrow clearly stole the show the first time around, so the sequels came about because of him, and thus they revolved around him, but the one thing that is worse than not having enough of a good thing is having too much of it. Making Jack Sparrow the main character made the whole thing feel forced. Making him the main character, and taking away much of his wit and cunning that made him great in the first movie was a double negative. And movies are not like multiplication; two negatives do not equel a positive.

      In the end, jack Sparrow was a man's man, and a ladies man. Women wanted him and Guys wanted to be him. He was in control, he was smart, he knew it and he was funny. But his humor was not to be mistaken for weakness. If you made that mistake, you would relinquish control of the situation to Captain Jack Sparrow. But the sequels made him comic relief and too much of it. He cowers in fear, yelps in fright, and runs from opposition. Maybe it's because he wasn't fighting for anything worth fighting for after he got the Pearl back, but if that be the case, i'd prefer he perpetually chase the Pearl for 4 straight movies.



  1. Nice article. I absolutely agree with you. They dumbed him down and gave him too central of a role, and that seriously diminished his cool factor.

  2. Well I have to agree with you on this one completely. I just watched all 4 pirate films in order and I thought something was wrong with the character. I never really liked Captain Jack and I will never know why, probably because he like Tony Stark I cant sympathize with him in any way. However the new pirate movie was not the best and I hope they just keep Captain Jack away from cinema for a time and let Pirates rest before the butcher the series for more $$$$$$, but hey thats what makes the world go round.

  3. I completely agree. Jack was such a bad ass, witty guy in the first film. I hate that they made him into this frightened idiot. In the first movie he did impossible things that could never happen in real life, but you believed he could do it because he was so confident and awesome. In the last movies, whenever he did impossible things I could no longer believe it because he lacked the credibility he did in the first film.

  4. that was an honest piece of work , i do agree with alot of the strong points you made out. It seemed the once in control jack now ,is the victim of his own character .
    There isn't much for me to go on cause it will be nothing short of a re hash of what u said, but what i can add to this is that , with the major success of anything , the sequels tend to give a major complication to the writers , what worked once is now the cliche .

  5. I love what you said about Jack Sparrow. He was the man that even if you hated him, you can't help yourself liking him. Jack didn't need to be an main character, it cling his style. He is a person that open and loves his freedom. He made you want to be out in the open sea and explore new worlds. The first movie made him as a cool new character to enjoy on film. Please, check out my blog: Thank you

  6. this is a very in-depth character study

  7. doesn't matter to me. i still love the 2nd movie.

    if you actually pay attention its pretty clear what its about. i though the added past to jack about the pearl was rather fitting.

    it didn't feel all that forced really. he mades a dirty deal to be the best pirate around.

    but what i will agree with is that his dialogue was never as sharp as the first movie. the scene where he steals the interceptor is genius and something they were never able to replicate.

    i can't really say he's ever done something as witty in the sequels.

    i still love the 2nd movie as i said. while jack was never better then he was in the first movie i'd say equal at best.

    i just really loved the vision the director had for pirate lore. the kraken and davy jones was just so awesome. also a big strength of the sequel was the strength to elizabeth as a character. in the first movie she was primarily a damsel in distress until the end.

    in the 2nd movie she was a total badass. and way more fun to watch.

    jack may have never been as witty, but i still had fun and think dead man's chest was a better paced film.

  8. i know this has nothing to do with the topic but could you do a review of speed racer. i loved the movie but i need to know if im crazy or if you like it too. for me one of the best movies ever.

  9. I personally think he felt more like the original Jack in the fourth one. I agree with Jeremy, it's easily the second best POTC movie. 2 and 3 were too convoluted, but I can't deny I enjoyed them as well.

  10. The other thing that kinda annoyed me in the sequels i gotta is is that it seems a lot of the characters suddenly have this "everybody loves Jack" mentality, as such pretty much all the bit part characters seemed to come across as having something of a man crush on him, which in part made the confidence Sparrow had in the first one merely arrogance

  11. Totally agree! And this totally put me in the more for a pirates marathon