Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales brings back Orlando Bloom as Will Turner, after the actor (and character) sat out the fourth installment in Disney’s swashbuckling blockbuster adventure series, 2011’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. While the Dead Men Tell No Tales Super Bowl trailer offers a fleeting glimpse at Will with far more barnacles on his face than moviegoers are accustomed to seeing (more on that later), the marketing for Disney’s fifth Pirates movie has by and large danced around either including footage of Bloom or in particular, making references to the role that he plays in the film’s narrative.
The second (and possibly final) Dead Men Tell No Tales theatrical trailer largely fills in the gaps in the previously-released plot summaries for the movie; revealing more about the film’s villain Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) and the personal history that he has with Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), in addition to better explaining Salazar’s motivation for wanting to wipe out pirate-kind in general, upon his return from the dead. Although the trailer doesn’t touch on the Will story thread in the film, a little detective work and speculation puts us on a path to solving the puzzle of how Bloom’s character fits into the larger picture here.
To refresh your memory: the third Pirates film, At World’s End, concludes with Will becoming the new Davy Jones and having to part ways with his wife, as well as the newly-appointed Pirate Queen, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). However, as a result of the Davy Jones curse, Will wouldn’t be able to set foot on land again to see Elizabeth for ten years. A post-credits scene for At World’s End shows Will returning to reunite with both Elizabeth and their now ten-year old son – and it’s this scene that may come back into play in an important way in not only Dead Men Tell No Tales, but any and all Pirates of the Caribbean movies that follow thereafter.
It was Bloom who, prior to being confirmed to return in Dead Men Tell No Tales, revealed what Disney was planning with Pirates 5, saying “Basically they want to reboot the whole franchise, I think, and do something with me and the relationship with my son.” The latest Dead Men Tell No Tales trailer seems to indicate otherwise at first glance, presenting the fifth Pirates movie as being the last one, with a tagline reading ‘The Final Adventure Begins” However, unless Disney’s larger game plan has changed since Bloom made his reboot comment, then it’s possible that what that really means is Dead Men Tell No Tales is the “final adventure” for the stars of the previous Pirates films – including, Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.
Be that the case or not, the relevant takeaway for our purposes here is that Dead Men Tell No Tales includes a plot thread involving Will and his son. Brenton Thwaites, who plays a Royal Navy sailor named Henry in the film, has also confirmed as much, having said that Pirates 5 is about “a young man who wants to reconnect with his father, Davy Jones. There’s a curse that prevents him from doing that.” Putting two and two together, it’s obvious that Thwaites is talking about Will when he refers to Davy Jones here and the curse he mentions is the one preventing Will from being able to properly reunite with his family. There’s also a strong chance that Thwaites himself is playing Will’s grown son, seeing as that among the new characters confirmed for Pirates 5, Henry is the only one whose last name has yet to be revealed (hint, hint).
If Henry is Will’s son, then that means Dead Men Tell No Tales isn’t picking up in real-time after At World’s End (which hit theaters in 2007) – meaning that Jack is a much older man than he even was when last we saw him, in On Stranger Tides, and Will didn’t break the Davy Jones curse after ferrying the dead to the afterlife for ten years, as some fans have speculated he would’ve been able to do. The prolonged amount of time that Will has spent serving as captain of the Flying Dutchman could explain why he looks worse for wear in Dead Men Tell No Tales. Then again, if Will has been shirking his responsibilities as the new Davy Jones, that would also explain his current appearance and account for him still being cursed, when the film picks up.
The Dead Men Tell No Tales synopsis confirms that the main MacGuffin in this Pirates film is the Trident of Poseidon, as Jack needs the mythical weapon in order to stop Salazar and save himself, along with the other pirates of the world. If Henry is searching for and/or attempting to help his father Will out, then he may need the Trident to do just that. This could account for why he forges an “uneasy alliance” with Jack in the movie, as there doesn’t seem to be much reason for Henry to be teaming up with Jack otherwise (given that Henry is not a pirate himself and doesn’t appear interested in pursuing that “profession” as a new career).
This could mean that Will plays a role in Dead Men Tells No Tales similar to the role that Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard plays in the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. In the case of both of these films, a protagonist from an earlier installment in the franchise is missing when this new movie begins, encouraging a younger protagonist (one who could potentially cary the franchise forward thereafter) to seek them out, for important plot-related reasons. It’s worth noting here that it seems unlikely that Dead Men Tell No Tales will “pull a Force Awakens” and not have Will show up until the very end of the film (a la Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode VII).
There are, of course, other possibilities for how Will fits into the larger story of Dead Men Tell No Tales. For example, with Salazar and his crew of undead pirates wreaking havoc on the high seas, Will might be forced to intervene – as it is his job to make sure the dead make it to (and, presumably, stay in) the afterlife. Either way, it sounds as though the fifth Pirates movie will once again focus on the Turner family, allowing for some franchise course-correction after On Stranger Tides shifted its focus to Jack Sparrow only (arguably, to the detriment of the film). Rumor has it Dead Men Tell No Tales also sets up for more adventures with the Turner clan in the future… though that will depend in no small amount on the movie being anywhere near as commercially-successful as the Pirates adventures that came before it.