The reboot for the Tomb Raider movie is officially moving forward, and Lara Croft is getting ready to find her way back onto the big screen. It was recently announced that Daisy Ridley (who you may know best as Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is on the short list of auditions for the role of Lara, but other details are still scarce. It’s still extremely early in the filming process, with a script not even finished yet, but it’s impossible not to be excited about the news that one of the most iconic characters in gaming will be getting another movie.
The first two Tomb Raider films weren’t quite crowd-pleasers, but they showed a lot of potential. And with the game series rebooted a couple years ago and being a hit with fans and critics, what better time to reboot the film franchise as well? As we all know, movies based on games are tough to adapt, but there are actually some promising looking cinematic adaptions of games coming out this year, so we’re optimistic the Tomb Raider film can be the hit we all want this time.
While more news comes out over the following months, here are the 12 Things We Want To See In The New Tomb Raider Movie.
12 A DISTINCT FILM PERSONALITY
There were many casual fans years ago who called the Tomb Raider films female versions of the Indiana Jones films. Those comparisons will no doubt persist, especially with a fifth Indiana Jones movie now on the horizon. But Lara Croft now bears a strong resemblance to another major film character—The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen. Drawing on those similarities to gather some fans from the two huge film franchises is a fine idea, but the new Tomb Raider shouldn’t go so far as to give up its own personality to replicate those movies.
Lara Croft is openly an inspiration from Indy, and her penchant for archery in the 2013 game seemed quite timely with the popularity of Katniss, but she’s more of a thrill seeker than either of them. Lara was born into an aristocratic family and lost both of her parents, so she already has a lot of wealth to her name. It’s not so much greed that leads to her archaeology expeditions (and thievery), but a thirst for knowledge, and the joy of the adventure. The film reboot should show the audience the wonder Lara has for the relics she finds, and the excitement she feels that makes her crazy enough to keep doing these expeditions even after narrowly surviving the first one.
11 A GOOD BLEND OF HISTORY AND LEGENDS
History can absolutely be fun, but at the same time turning the Tomb Raider reboot into a National Geographic special probably isn’t the adventure most film goers will be looking for. That’s why in the games Lara doesn’t just discover the remains of a culture like the ancient Egyptians, but winds up having to fight off their resurrected warriors and mythological monsters. The first rule of storytelling is show don’t tell, and getting to see how deadly a warrior tribe can be is a lot more compelling than hearing about it.
Of course, the movie will inevitably be dealing with some real places where the culture is alive and well, so we’re not looking for the story to just fill its world with stereotypes. Drawing on mythology is all fun, but if the story is going to be about other civilizations, let’s see the writers putting in the research to know their stuff. The crew actually understanding and accurately depicting other culture’s customs won’t just give them more to draw upon for the story, but it’ll lend authenticity to Lara’s university background and make her feel more intelligent for genuinely knowing what she’s talking about.
10 AN ANGELINA JOLIE CAMEO
While the first two Tomb Raider movies were disappointing, one aspect that was perfect was the casting of Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft. Jolie looked perfect as Lara, had the reputation of being a badass action star, and emanated the cool confidence that her video game counterpart was known for. It’s not as if Jolie was fired from the role either; the first two movies did well enough that a third was being discussed, but Angelina simply wasn’t interested in reprising the character. When the remake was first announced, many even thought she might return for the role.
Whoever does wind up getting the role of Lara will hopefully have her own great merits, but it’d be nice to see a nod to Angelina Jolie somewhere in the film as well. Something like how Franco Nero from the 1966 Django had a cameo appearance in 2012’s Django Unchained. Maybe once Lara has returned from her adventure she could have a scene where she’s learning how to dual wield her handguns at a shooting gallery, and Jolie could be the instructor. Or she could be the one to give Lara her signature sunglasses somehow. There are plenty of fun ways they could give Jolie some recognition, and show her passing the torch to the new Lara.
9 DON’T PORTRAY HER AS AN “EXCEPTIONAL WOMAN”
While we have nothing against all exceptional women in the world, we're talking the trope of the “exceptional woman” here, which is common in action movies featuring female characters. The woman is tough, cool, and highly-skilled, but also just happens to be beautiful even though she hates pretty or girly things. This character is often made to appeal to audiences by distancing herself from more feminine women, either by showing disdain for feminine things, or simply being the only woman in the entire film. Very much like Lara Croft has been at points.
In the first Tomb Raider movie, Lara scoffs when offered a dress to wear by her butler as she steps out of the shower in a towel. “A lady should be modest,” her butler says as she casually drops her towel in front of him. Lara glances back with a smirk. “Yes, a lady should be modest,” she replies as she walks away naked.
This scene is mirrored with Daniel Craig’s character later in the movie when Lara drops in on him as he comes out of the shower nude, to no discomfort to Lara. It sends the message that ladies are modest, but guys aren’t. And Lara is like one of the guys. She’s too cool to be bothered about silly modesty like some lady. A woman with a masculine personality is fine, but it stands out when Lara is the only significant female character in the film. Lara Croft is already a cool character, and she doesn’t need to be portrayed as better than other women to achieve that status. Avoiding this in the new movie is easy—don’t have Lara be the sole woman in the film, and give each woman a distinct personality that doesn’t cut the others down.
8 DON’T PORTRAY HER AS OVERLY EMOTIONAL JUST BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN
This is the opposite problem of the previous point, and got demonstrated in the Tomb Raider game reboot. Male game protagonists like Nathan Drake deal with danger with quips and one-liners, but the reboot’s attempt to humanize Lara led to a large chunk of her experience being crying, screaming in fear, or just being so exhausted that she could only gasp for air. Admittedly those are realistic reactions to a life or death situation, but action heroes aren’t often depicted that way, so it’s an odd contrast to see.
The game reboot has nothing on what Metroid: Other M did in changing the personality of the iconic Samus Aran, but it does seem like a trend that modern interpretations of tough female characters tend to soften them a lot. We certainly don’t want Lara to be an emotionless robot, but the game reboot did feel like it took things a bit far by having Lara apologize to a deer she killed for food, or sobbing and retching after she killed someone in self-defense, only to kill hundreds of people by her journey’s end. Hopefully the film reboot can find a nice balance of Lara being a realistic survivor, but also having traces of the confident, sarcastic Lara that the games introduced us to years ago.
7 BRITISH LARA
With how prevalent American action heroes are, we don’t get to see as many international ones. Or if we do, they often get put into American cities instead of somewhere in their own country. Heroes like Wolverine and Deadpool are both Canadian, but wind up taking a lot of fights in America instead of in their birthplace. It’s understandable that American audiences would want to see someone they can identify with, but at this point we’re oversaturated with seeing the same cities and character types. It’d be really refreshing to see more films set in different cultures and countries.
There’s no reason the new Tomb Raider can’t help cater to that role. Lara Croft has always been an aristocrat from England, and if Daisy Ridley does wind up getting the role, then she’s an English actress so it would be the most natural thing to keep those elements intact. But there have been plenty of films that have been given American remakes because studios didn’t think moviegoers would tolerate subtitles, or accents. Yet if any other country felt the need to remake a film like Captain America into, say, Captain Italy, we’d of course find that ridiculous. Lara probably wouldn’t be spending much time in England anyway before traveling the world, but it’d still be disappointing to see her background get Americanized. A diversity of perspectives only creates fresher stories.
6 RHIANNA PRATCHETT HELPING WITH THE SCRIPT
When it came to making a more realistic Lara Croft for the 2013 Tomb Raider game, writer Rhianna Pratchett was brought in as the lead writer for the game to work on humanizing the well-known heroine. The series has had some poorly received games, like Angel of Darkness, so this wasn’t a guaranteed success for Pratchett. In fact, for the amount of money they invested in it, publisher Square Enix was initially unimpressed with Tomb Raider’s sales despite it selling over a million copies in just 48 hours. But over time, those sales grew to over 8.5 million, the best-selling game in the franchise, and a sequel was announced.
Obviously, something about Pratchett and her fellow writer’s work appealed to a lot of people. So if the movie is going to adapt the story from the 2013 game, it only makes sense to have Pratchett in a role like a consultant for characterization. There’s no denying earlier games in the series heavily sexualized Lara, while Pratchett provided the first significant effort to downplay that fan service and focus more on creating a realistic woman. Female fans will no doubt play a huge role in whether the movie reboot is received well, so why not bring in a writer who has demonstrated she has a mind for depicting Lara with respect and maturity?
5 A SENSE OF HUMOR
The reboot is being billed as an origin story right now, and we know how filmmakers have developed a penchant for giving characters dark, gritty backgrounds nowadays. While that might work for characters like Batman, not all franchises are suitable for that style, and fans have certainly gotten fatigued with so many directors trying to force a serious attitude into their stories.
The reboot is supposed to be based off the 2013 game, and while the game had lots of fun action, there was a pretty big drought on light-hearted moments. Lara’s origin is meant to show how she gets on the path of being the cocky, brave, adventurer she is in the earlier games, but it’d be nice to see more traces of that in her movie origin. There was never really any moment where Lara was enjoying her adventure in the 2013 game, and instead just reacted by trying to survive each bad situation she was forced into. So throw in a few jokes and fun moments.
Audiences do like fun. Just look at the reaction to Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy in contrast to darker superhero movies of late.
4 ADVENTURE IN EXOTIC LOCATIONS
While people might picture archaeology missions taking places in deserts or some dark underground cavern, Lara manages to find adventure and treasure all across the world. She’s been through all the historical locations in Europe, has endured the cold of Antarctica, climbed mountains in Asia, and far more. There’s no shortage of exciting locales to be the backdrop of her story in the latest movie. If the movie follows the story of the 2013 game reboot, the primary location will be the country of Yamatai in Japan, leaving her stranded on the island, but there’s still plenty of adventure to be found there.
In the game Lara does some makeshift hang gliding, ziplining, river rafting sans the raft, and lots and lots of rock climbing. Even in a virtual world, some of the heights Lara reaches are vertigo-inducing, and clawing up each mountainside feels like a struggle. While it won’t be fun to watch Lara get banged up from each fall, there’s no doubt it will be exciting. Hopefully wherever the story winds up can be filmed on location to give viewers a real look at another part of the world, and the next best thing to the breathtaking experience of being there in person.
3 Great RESULTS FROM THE FILM CREW
Regardless of how good a game is, it can still easily be adapted into an awful movie without a strong film crew working on it. There’s a reason a director like Uwe Boll, who has worked on numerous video game movies, is so reviled. Over 350,000 people have signed a petition asking him to retire, and he recently revealed that when he tried to get the job of directing the upcoming Warcraft movie, they responded saying, “We will not sell the movie rights, not to you…especially not to you."
We want the Tomb Raider movie reboot to be great, but right now the director is Roar Uthaug, a Norwegian filmmaker who hasn’t really had any noteworthy results in America. And the script writer is Evan Daugherty, best known for the 2014 Ninja Turtles movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Divergent. Those aren’t the résumés you’d expect to be working on what could be the most successful video game movie franchise we’ve seen. Still, regardless of their quality, Daugherty’s movies have done well in the box office. And Uthaug’s recent The Wave had respectable reviews. So the crew are at least decent so far, but both men really need to step up and prove they can hit a home run in their filmmaking careers. If Daisy Ridley winds up playing Lara, she’s already had a breakout role with Rey in The Force Awakens. So hopefully the rest of the crew can prove they can do a big hit with Tomb Raider.
2 A LARA WHO DOESN’T PANDER TO SEX APPEAL
When Lara Croft first appeared in 1996, female game protagonists were rare, and gaming still had some growing up to do. So suffice to say, her character design was absurd looking. The original Tomb Raider movies were no stranger to fan service either, with the first one having an extensive Lara Croft shower scene that could have been cut from the film with nothing lost, save titillating the viewers with a naked Angelina Jolie.
Gaming has matured since then, and so have the most recent depictions of Lara Croft. While Lara’s former status as a sex symbol may linger, it doesn’t need to be pandered to. There were once discussions of Megan Fox, and even porn stars, starring in the Tomb Raider reboot. Tomb Raider could create a huge movie franchise, but it needs to be taken seriously, and bring out Lara’s depth for it to succeed. Skip the fan service and just deliver a good story. It’s not like anyone thought Jennifer Lawrence was any less attractive for not having any raunchy scenes in the Hunger Games movies, and they were some of the most financially successful films for each year they came out.
1 LOTS OF FUN THINGS FOR LARA TO SHOOT
Lara will of course need other interesting people to work with, clash with, and eventually take down. But some of the most fun encounters in the Tomb Raider games have been with the non-human enemies. Lara has taken on wild animals, robots, dinosaurs, and even undead warriors in the name of getting her prize. Part of the fun of each archaeology mission is you never know what Lara will find hidden away from the world for her to encounter.
Word is that the movie reboot will be adapting the story of the 2013 game, which primarily dealt with henchmen, cultists, and some cannibals. But Lara also had some rough encounters with a pack of wolves in the game, and even got to use a grenade launcher on some vengeful spirits as the story went on. There’s plenty for the movie to draw on, but there’s no denying it’d be cool to see Lara try and shoot down a T-Rex.
What are you hoping to see in the Tomb Raider reboot? From the cast, to the tone of the story, tell us what would excite you in the comments!