No disrespect intended towards Captain Jack Sparrow whatsoever — I love the character to pieces and imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the coming years — but I’m equally enamored with Rush’s comparatively underrated Barbossa, and I think we’re at the point where the formerly dead pirate needs to get his hands on the franchise. I’ll give you five reasons why after the jump.
We Do Know Jack
Johnny Depp’s Sparrow has become a cultural icon, and with good reason. He’s always quick with a quip, he’s strong with a sword, he’s brave through his selfishness and he’s always unpredictable. But therein lies the problem: he’s predictably unpredictable.
Jack’s bag of tricks, though fantastic to behold, have become easy to see ahead of time, which takes away so much of what makes the character work. It’s time for Jack to cool off on the bench and let the audience’s eye wander towards another character who has some didn’t-see-that-coming antics up his sleeve.
Stay With Who You Know
Jack Sparrow is a virtually impossible act to follow — he’s so recognizable and so tightly tied to the “Pirates” brand that it’s difficult to see how the series can stay afloat without a similar presence.
Cue Hector Barbossa, a character we can spot almost as easily as Jack. He’s one of very few characters beyond the good captain that exists in every single “Pirates” movie to date, so putting the focus on Barbossa as opposed to creating a brand new central character would be an easier pill to swallow for most fans.
Changing The Tides
With Barbossa headlining “Pirates,” the tone of the series shifts and the range of storytelling expands. Sure, Barbossa is quirky and keeps things light in his own way. But unlike Jack, Barbossa is the kind of pirate who will gladly shoot an underling over a small matter of disloyalty, or just to prove a point. He’ll bleed out a bystander if it increases his odds of success.
Put simply, there’s a ruthless quality in Barbossa that doesn’t exist in Sparrow anymore (if it ever did), one that allows this series to sail towards darker waters. Perhaps that’s not ideal for some viewers, but for me, it would be bloody brilliant.
There’s also the simple matter of, well… who doesn’t want to see more of Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa? He positively owns that character, just as much as Depp owns Sparrow, albeit in less heroic fashion — and even that seems to be changing, as Barbossa has become less of an out-and-out villain and more of an agree-to-disagree nemesis over the course of the films.
Indeed, Rush’s presence is so strongly felt that throughout “On Stranger Tides,” you might find yourself forgetting about the threat of Blackbeard while eagerly anticipating Barbossa’s next step. Anyone who can outshine the enormously talented Ian McShane is doing something right.
The Table’s Already Set
Without spoiling too much, the way that Barbossa’s character is left at the end of “On Stranger Tides” practically begs for a movie that puts the once undead sea captain at the helm of the ship. Not that there isn’t room for a Jack Sparrow cameo — there absolutely is, ala Keith Richards’ brief appearances in the past two “Pirates” films — but Barbossa needs space to breathe on his own.
Maybe we’re at a moment where the “Pirates” franchise can split off onto two paths: one series that continues Jack’s adventure, and a new one that sets sail with Barbossa. But the conniving pirate is at the most interesting point in his character’s arc so far. Relegating him to supporting status for a fifth movie, when he could be walking the plank towards his own starring outing, seems almost criminal.
Would you want to see Geoffrey Rush leading his very own “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie? Would you prefer that he took over for Johnny Depp, or simply headlined his own spinoff series? Let us know what you think in the comments section and on Twitter!