Movie Sleuth: Captain Jack’s Seen Strange Tides Before – Spoilers for Pirates 4?

Johnny Depp appears as Jack Sparrow at the D23 fan convention

Since the first time Jack hit the high seas in the Black Pearl, we’ve all been led to believe that his fantastic journeys were inspired by the classic Disney attraction—Pirates of the Caribbean. In a clever throwback to the genius of Walt himself, the ride now reflects the movies, and the movies often put classic scenes from the boat ride on the silver screen. But is it all that simple? I beg to differ.

Ever since Mr. Depp made an awe-inspiring announcement of the 4th film at the recent D23 fan convention (See Below!), the rumors about the movie’s plot have been flying. Here’s something to add a little more to the mix—and to rub in your friends’ faces when you blow the plot for them before the cameras stop rolling.


(Dead men tell no tales, etc.)

Twenty-one years ago a man named Tim Powers released a fantasy novel conveniently titled On Stranger Tides. Here’s a rundown of some of the most relevant parts of the story:


The main character is John “Jack
Shandy” Chandagnac, a puppeteer-
turned-pirate who journeys to Jamaica
to recover stolen money from his
wicked, inheritance-stealing uncle.

Hello? Jack Shandy? There’s always
been speculation that Disney might
take the route of a prequel for the
Pirates trilogy, especially since
some of the primary actors have
stepped away from the franchise.
Besides, we all know that we watch
the films for Jack Sparrow.
One of the primary villains of the novel is Blackbeard—yeah, that Blackbeard. Magic is also involved.

Can there be a better mix for a Pirates movie? For one, we’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the infamous Blackbeard on the screen—he’s the pinnacle of pirate cool. As for the magic, we already know that Disney LOVES that stuff—and they’re not afraid to throw voodoo magicians and sort-of zombies into the mix (both of which are in the book too). Sounds like a winning combination to me.
Pirates of the Caribbean Fountain of YouthThe characters in the novel are whisked away to the Fountain of Youth.

This is probably one of the strongest ties to the Pirates franchise other than the name of the novel itself. The final film left us with Jack on a journey to the Fountain of Youth using the navigational charts he’d stolen from Captain Barbossa. This would suggest that the movie’s not a prequel, but elements of the novel apart from the Jack Shandy’s induction into piratehood could be incorporated in the movie.
A love interest for Captain Jack?

One of the things we’ve always loved about Jack is that he’s endearingly not a ladies’ man no matter how hard he tries. It definitely seems that no woman could ever tie him down—even the fiery Elizabeth Swann only kissed him to send him to his watery grave. If Disney’s using a large portion of the plot from the book, however, it’s possible that Jack might meet his match in a lass named Beth Hurwood—the lovely lady Jack Shandy rescues in his search for the Fountain of Youth.
Disney supposedly bought the rights to the novel ALREADY.

Locus Science Fiction and Fantasy News reports that Tim Powers has confirmed the rumor with the following statement: “I can now say that Disney optioned On Stranger Tides and will use elements of the book in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. I can also say that I did not ever specify that Serena and I get parts in the movie or have dinner with Johnny Depp! (Not that we’d mind.)”

It’s impossible to say what elements the Disney folks will pull out of Powers’s novel to incorporate in the Pirates franchise. What’s clear is that there are some very strong connections between the two. So here’s the challenge to the hardcore Pirates fans: buy the book, study it, and tell me what you think. I’m personally pulling for Blackbeard and a legitimate romance for Captain Jack (short-lived, traitorous, and slap-filled though it may be) —but we won’t know for sure until Summer 2011. Arr!

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