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Mistakes Disney Needs To Avoid In Pirates Of The Caribbean 6

When the inaugural Pirates of the Caribbean feature — Curse of the Black Pearl — hit cinemas nearly two decades ago, no one expected it to perform as well as it did. Not only was it a financial home run, but it left general audiences and critics wanting more. The result was one of the silver screen's most well-regarded trilogies, with 2006's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End dazzling everyone further. With the former grossing over $1 billion, and the latter coming in at $961 million, as one would expect, the House of Mouse didn't drop anchor with the series just yet.

In a bid to keep the Pirates momentum going, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides arrived in theaters in 2011, followed by 2017's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Much like their predecessors, raking in cash wasn't an issue for either, however, public opinion took a nosedive very quickly. The general consensus was that the franchise has lost its luster, and its golden years were far behind it. Nevertheless, Disney hopes to breathe new life into the IP, reportedly considering the reboot route for the unnamed Pirates of the Caribbean 6, according to Deadline.

Given the increasingly complex nature of Captain Jack Sparrow actor Johnny Depp's legal battles, and the general fatigue surrounding the Pirates of the Caribbean name, Disney has to be very careful in how it proceeds with the next adventure. Here are some mistakes it should especially avoid with Pirates of the Caribbean 6.

Simplify the story

Pirates of the Caribbean, while based on a 1960s-era Disneyland attraction, has developed an incredibly rich and layered lore across its five installments. There's political intrigue, good and evil supernatural entities, heated rivalries, family matters, and so much more. In fact, there's so much to deal with that one would imagine trying to pack all of these elements into a single flick would be impossible. Although, it has been done multiple times, to great success even, but the series' ability to fit everything into a cohesive narrative has recently begun to wane. 

A major drawback for both On Stranger Tides and Dead Men Tell No Tales was that they were too convoluted for their own good. They couldn't keep track of all the ongoing threads, they kept introducing characters only to not develop them (more on that soon), brought in elements that didn't meaningfully further the plot, and led moviegoers on drawn-out McGuffin hunts. The result was a couple of Pirates adventures that were unnecessarily complex and not worth investing in by default. As one would expect, this drove audiences and critics alike away. 

Therefore, Pirates of the Caribbean 6 should take a less is more approach — trim the fat, take time to develop story beats and characters, and strengthen them in the eyes of the viewer. In essence, bigger isn't always better.

Reel the comedic elements back in

The Pirates of the Caribbean series is, at its core, one of action and adventure. When the franchise began, viewers were sold on the promises of thrilling sword fights, cannonball-launching sea battles, and the exploration of a brand-new cinematic world. From the outset, thanks largely to Johnny Depp's wacky performance as Captain Jack Sparrow, comedic elements found their way in. One-liners, laughable moments, and more added some levity to otherwise grave situations. The problem? Pirates of the Caribbean has become a comedy with the odd bit of tension now and again.

This isn't to say that there can't be any jokes in Pirates of the Caribbean 6, but they can't dominate every scene. The first three movies worked so well because they found a happy medium in this regard, letting audiences know when it was appropriate to laugh or take things seriously. The latest installments have thrown this balance out the window, giving fans all the Jack Sparrow shenanigans they desire while simultaneously reducing the weight of what's going on around him. It grows tiresome, and even makes what should be chuckle-worthy scenes total eye-rollers.

If the next Pirates outing is to bring the saga back from life support, with or without Sparrow, it'll have to keep the giggles in check.

Character progression is key

What would Pirates of the Caribbean be without its cast of characters? Aside from Jack Sparrow, names like Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) helped make the franchise what it is today. They and many others played a crucial role in the narrative, receiving plenty of backstory and logical progression along the way to make them so memorable. In recent years, not only has Disney lost sight of what made the old guard so revered, but it failed to make the franchise's newcomers worth remembering.

The two latest Pirates productions have introduced fans to a slew of fresh faces, ranging from Penelope Cruz's Angelica to Brenton Thwaites' Henry Turner. The actors behind them, for the most part, did a solid job, but they were ultimately squandered in one way or another. Some simply disappear without a trace, calling into question their relevance to begin with, or lack the depth necessary for moviegoers to connect with them. If the ensemble is bland and the plot is lackluster, why buy a ticket?

Whether it's a continuation of the existing Pirates saga, or a total overhaul of the property, Disney should keep Pirates of the Caribbean 6's main cast list tight. They should iron out every little detail of who they all are, their goals, personalities, backgrounds, etc. and stick with it. The stronger plan they have for the players, the more justified their inclusion will feel.

The villain problems

With plenty of beloved heroes to its credit — no matter how morally ambiguous — the Pirates of the Caribbean series also contains some truly remarkable villains. Curse of the Black Pearl introduced viewers to the undead menace turned reluctant good guy, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush). Years later, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End saw the vile Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) take center-stage. Since then though, it's almost as if Disney has been trying to replicate their success with the likes of Blackbeard (Ian McShane) and Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), ultimately to no avail.

There are two main problems Pirates of the Caribbean 6 will need to steer clear of when it comes to the antagonist. For one, Disney needs to come to terms with the fact that attempting to clone Davy Jones simply won't work. That means it's time to let the mystical, inhuman elements go, since zombie Blackbeard and ghost Salazar went nowhere. Second, it's about time audiences got a villain who wasn't trying to kill Jack Sparrow, and also just so happens to have minor motives. It's overdone, causes the rest of the cast to feel passive in the grand scheme, and once again allows Jack to hoard screen time.

Unless Pirates of the Caribbean 6 expands on the Davy Jones tease at the end of Dead Men Tell No Tales, it should totally overhaul its approach to bad guys. It'll need someone fresh, driven, and dangerous to replicate the highs of those who came before.

Give everyone a reason to care again

In the mid 2000s, pop culture was severely lacking when it came to a defining box office sensation. The Star Wars prequel trilogy wrapped up in 2005, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe hadn't quite taken off yet, leaving Pirates of the Caribbean a chance to shine. The original trilogy stood out as a breath of fresh air in mainstream filmmaking and established a ravenous fanbase who truly adored every second they spent on the high seas. Simply put, the Pirates IP ruled the roost for years, before nearly falling off the map by the time the 2010s crept in.

It's certainly easy to blame the return of Star Wars, the rise of the MCU, and superhero cinema in general, as the chief reasons for Pirates of the Caribbean's fall from grace. But, such a claim isn't totally true, as the swashbuckling saga itself failed to innovate. Repetitive villains, dull stories, and forgettable supporting cast members contributed greatly to its downfall and the dissipation of audience interest. Dead Men Tell No Tales' $750 million gross, the lowest since Curse of the Black Pearl, further indicates viewers' growing indifference to the Pirates of the Caribbean brand.

Above all else, Pirates of the Caribbean 6 has to find a way to get people excited about the movie. Up the ante with advertising, bring on some popular stars, and craft a story that's absolutely must-see, anything to rectify the mistakes of yesteryear.