After more than a three-year absence from the big screen, Captain Jack Sparrow popped up again recently. But the appearance wasn't tied to "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides." Rather, in October, Johnny Depp donned his seafaring garb and headed over to Meridian Primary School in Greenwich, England, to surprise a classroom of 9-year-olds.

The photos that surfaced online presented a rather unauthorized look at Captain Jack. Now we've got our first official peek at the fourth "Pirates" film, which is scheduled to hit theaters on May 20, 2011.

USA Today has delivered two new photos, both featuring Depp's dreadlocked pirate. In one, Depp and Penelope Cruz (who joins the franchise as a former flame and future love interest) wade through a waist-high swamp. In the other, Depp is being dragged through the Old Royal Naval College by King George II's guards.

As established toward the end of 2007's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," Sparrow has had his eye on finding the Fountain of Youth. So, too, does the king, who's recruited Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) for the task and is determined to hire Sparrow for the quest as well. Sparrow eventually sets off to find the fabled treasure, which is how he encounters Cruz's character.

"We have our bouts in the film, but there's also this residue of what might have been. It's a kind of love/hate thing," Depp said of their onscreen relationship. "There's a little flavor of both."

Though the film is the fourth installment in the franchise, it's the first some respects: The first to be directed by someone other than Gore Verbinski ("Chicago" helmer Rob Marshall has assumed those duties), and the first to be shot and presented in 3-D. "Stranger Tides" also stakes out fresh narrative territory.

"It's a completely different beast," co-screenwriter Terry Rossio said. "The three previous films are a trilogy, with an intricate, interwoven tapestry of characters. I would call this a stand-alone type of story."

Check out everything we've got on "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

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