After a successful run on video game consoles and at the box office in the late 1990s and early 2000s, popularity of the Tomb Raider franchise dipped in subsequent years. Series star Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie in the original live-action movie) remained a video game icon but the interactive titles in which she appeared began to suffer from “sequelitis” – leading to a reboot of the franchise from developer Square Enix in 2013. Taking a more “grounded” approach to Croft and her world, and evolving the series’ combat to compete with modern third-person shooter titles (most notably Sony’s Uncharted games), the developer revamped Lara’s origins in Tomb Raider -portraying the heroine’s first brush with death and adventure (that left her stranded on a mysterious island with no choice but to kill an army of mercenaries in order to survive the ordeal).
Designed as a cinematic experience, with heart-pounding interactive set-pieces, in an immersive (and supernatural) locale, it didn’t take long for talk of a full-on film reboot to take shape. Three years later, with another successful game under their belt (in 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider), Square Enix, in partner ship with MGM and Warner Bros., is moving forward with the Tomb Raider film reboot – and a new report has revealed who will step into the starring role of Lara Croft: Alicia Vikander.
THR reported the news – indicating that Vikander has officially signed-on for the role. For months, it had been suspected the studio was attempting to court Star Wars – Episode 7 star Daisy Ridley for the part (and the actress had even confirmed “conversations) but, whether Ridley wasn’t interested or the studio went in a new direction, Vikander has won the role of Lara Croft.
While Ridley would have been a great pick, there’s no question that MGM has an incredible actress in Vikander – and the very fact that an up-and-coming Academy Award winner is taking-on the role of Lara Croft is a strong endorsement of the direction that MGM intends to go with the project, what Square Enix was able to accomplish in rebranding the character, as well as the evolution of video game movies as a notable subgenre (a far cry from the days of Uwe Boll snatching up film rights and churning out low-budget game adaptations).
As evidenced by Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender starring in the Assassin’s Creed adaption, talented actors are beginning to see value in leading a video game franchise film series – an inevitable development that we discussed multiple times on the Screen Rant podcast. Time will tell whether Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, and Duncan Jones’ big-budget Warcraft movie can compete for audience attention, in an industry packed with comic book adaptations, but the inclusion of talented actors is certainly a strong indicator that studios are taking these video game films seriously. After all, the video game industry is now bigger than the film industry – and video games, themselves, aren’t just interactive adventures anymore, they’re extremely valuable multimedia brands.
As for Vikander, the actress erupted onto the Hollywood scene in 2014 and posted an extremely successful year in 2015 – with fan-favorite (not to mention award-winning) performances in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl as well as a fun turn in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (her inclusion in the long-in-development and largely ignored Seventh Son was actually one of the better aspects of an otherwise generic fantasy film). As a result, Vikander is a quality choice to bring the modern version of Lara (the one that is known for layered complexity not a skimpy outfit) to life on the big screen. Between emotional performances in respected dramas and butt-kicking brawls in U.N.C.L.E., Vikander should have no problem depicting a nuanced mix of vulnerability, determination, and strength in young Lara Croft.
Unfortunately, little is known about the Tomb Raider film reboot yet (though, it is inspired by the path Square Enix has set). Once further official info is revealed, we’ll be sure to report back. Assuming rumors are true that the film will target a Fall 2017 release, we should be hearing a lot more information about what MGM and Warner Bros. have planned very soon.
The Tomb Raider reboot is rumored to be eyeing a Fall 2017 release.