There was a time when the idea of doing a Pirates of the Caribbean movie without Captain Jack Sparrow was a definitive recipe for failure. However, as actor Johnny Depp’s personal life begins to muddy the waters of his career, Disney is being forced to ponder whether or not the franchise has any sea-legs without him.
According to a new rumor from WeGotThisCovered, the Mouse House is reportedly moving forward on a sixth installment in the franchise with supporting characters taking over and leaving Captain Jack out of it. How will they pull this off without fans rioting you may ask? The answer lies in a bit of clever storytelling that may whet people’s appetites for a seventh movie. The idea is reportedly to mention that Johnny Depp’s character met his demise off-screen. However, there will be whispers and rumors throughout the pirate community that Captain Jack merely faked his own death to get himself out of whatever new debt he finds himself in. The ruse, as fans of the franchise will recognize, is exactly the kind of thing Captain Jack Sparrow would do.
The fate of Johnny Depp’s role in the series has been in question for a while, ever since his high profile split with Amber Heard made him a bit of a toxic figure in Hollywood. The first domino to fall was his role as Grindlewald in the Harry Potter franchise offshoot, Fantastic Beasts. It was announced in November that Hannibal star Mads Mikkelsen would take over as the series’ antagonist going forward. The move came after Depp sued The Sun newspaper for labeling him a wife-beater.
The ensuing libel lawsuit, which the actor lost, aired a lot of dirty laundry in Johnny Depp’s personal life between him and the Aquaman actress that left an unsavory taste in the studio’s mouth. He was reportedly asked to resign from the role and it seems Disney may ask for a similar sacrifice in Pirates of the Caribbean. However, if the new rumor is to be believed, the door will be kept open for the actor to reprise his role as Captain Jack should the controversy blow over.
Those who have been paying close attention may have seen Johnny Depp’s departure from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise coming. In May of 2020, producer Jerry Bruckheimer noted in an interview with Collider that the studio wasn’t sure if there was room for Captain Jack Sparrow in the sixth movie that’s currently in development. He stopped short of blaming Depp’s personal struggles for the big question mark over his involvement in the film, but fans were able to read between the lines. After all, why make him the focal point of five previous movies only to bump down his importance for number six?
Now it becomes a matter for the fans to grapple with. The loss of Grindelwald after what was effectively a cameo in the first movie and a heartier role in its sequel wasn’t that much for even the Harry Potter fandom to stomach. However, the Pirates of the Caribbean fandom is a different animal altogether. Johnny Depp is far and away a more essential cog in that franchise’s machine and Disney will have to make the call whether or not a movie that doesn’t include his Oscar-nominated performance is something the box office will bear.