This week sees the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the fifth installation of the franchise and Hollywood’s latest attempt to assuage all those assault allegations because isn’t Johnny Depp quirky! The film stars Javier Bardem as the vengeance-driven villain Salazar, an undead sea captain who wants Depp’s Jack Sparrow dead. But it turns out an early pitch of the sequel could have had a female foe, if it weren’t for Depp putting the kibosh on it.
Movie Pilot uncovered a blog (which is currently offline) by screenwriter Terry Rossio, who had a hand in writing every Pirates of the Caribbean film to date. Recounting the development of Dead Men Tell No Tales, Rossio wrote:
“My version of Dead Men Tell No Tales was set aside because it featured a female villain, and Johnny Depp was worried that would be redundant to Dark Shadows, which also featured a female villain.”
The implication here seems to be that either Depp didn’t want to remind anyone of the absolute bomb that was Dark Shadows by having the common thread of a villainess, or that the scandalized actor somehow thinks that Dark Shadows having a female antagonist was somehow the problem with the Tim Burton debacle. Because Depp himself could not possibly have been in any way to blame for the absolute awfulness of that wildly dumb adaptation. Because Eva Green—no. I won’t even follow the thread of presumed Depp-thought that blames Eva “I was made to make even the shittiest movie better by my mere presence and theatricality” Green for Dark Shadows failing. There was a lot wrong with that flick, but Green was nothing but so so right.
I can’t help but wonder if maybe Depp thought it might not be a good look for him to battle a woman onscreen right now. Regardless, Depp got his way. There are women in Dead Men Tell No Tales, but none of them villains. Still, the high-seas movie is tanking with critics (including this one).
Who might Depp blame if this film bombs like The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mortdecai?