Variety is now confirming previous speculation that Geoffrey Rush will indeed return as Captain Hector Barbossa in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. With Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley skipping this latest entry, Barbossa will be one of the few returning supporting characters from previous films.

Rush joins co-stars Johnny Depp (who’s returning as Captain Jack Sparrow – possibly for the last time), Ian McShane, Penelope Cruz, and Stephen Graham.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will be the first installment in the series directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine) and follows Jack Sparrow’s search for the Fountain of Youth. It was recently rumored that Disney intended to cut costs on the film, a decision somewhat contradicted by their announcement that it would be shot in 3D.

In all honestly, I strongly feel like this is a franchise that would greatly benefit from scaling back in scope. I felt that the previous Pirates sequels put too much emphasis on the (admittedly impressive) special effects, and in the process we lost a lot of the great character interactions that made the original so memorable.  I know that’s an easy and cliche argument to level against any blockbuster, but the Pirates franchise may be one of the best examples of a series that had everything going for it and managed to get completely lost.

Which is why I fully support the decision to ditch Will & Elizabeth and take the series in a brand new direction. It’s something they should have done from the very beginning. Like the Indiana Jones franchise, each film could have been built around a different Jack Sparrow adventure. The choice to turn it into an intricately connected trilogy always seemed dubious to me.

Still, Geoffrey Rush’s return is a welcome one as Barbossa is such a great foil for Jack Sparrow and because the two are connected in a much more natural way. In many respects, Sparrow actually works better when you have Barbossa to contrast him. Besides, the previous film’s epilogue almost guaranteed Barbossa’s involvement in the new film’s proceedings.

Are you excited for Barbossa’s return? What are your thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides? Was it a wise decision to move into uncharted waters or should they have kept more elements from the previous films?

Source: Variety.