The Tomb Raider franchise is one of the longest-standing franchises in the world. It spawned dozens of games and other media; it holds several Guinness World Records and features one of the most recognizable protagonists on the planet. In its 26 years of existence, it sold over 88 million units of games and expanded its brand on multiple markets, including The Tomb Raider Live Experience. It is safe to say that Tomb Raider is also one of the most successful franchises in the world, and it was inevitable for Hollywood to want to dip their golden fingers into the TR cake too. The subsequent collaboration gave us three interesting movies: Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider- The Cradle of Life and Tomb Raider 2018, and two amazing interpretations of Lara Croft characters: Angelina Jolie’s and Alicia Vikander’s.
However, after the heated bidding wars that took place this past summer and early autumn over TR movie rights, all has gone silent. We still don’t know who is the new movie rights owner nor when (and if) the next Tomb Raider movie is even happening. After the cancellation of the Tomb Raider 2018 sequel starring Alicia Vikander, it seems the next Tomb Raider movie is in the ‘will it, won’t it’ phase. On the other hand, the franchise seems just too lucrative for Hollywood to keep its fingers out of it for too long. Tomb Raider 2018 alone earned $274.7 million at the box office. It seems likely that the next Tomb Raider film will happen sometime in the future. And while we are waiting for relevant news on the matter, let’s take a look at 3 things we definitely don’t need in the next Tomb Raider movie.
To Be Called Tomb Raider
From Tomb Raider (1996 video game), Tomb Raider (2000 Game Boy video game), Tomb Raider (2013 reboot), to Tomb Raider (2018 film reboot), we really don’t need the next Tomb Raider movie to be called simply Tomb Raider. It’s confusing, it’s unimaginative, and honestly just plain dumb. Save for the very first game, the other titles come off as self-rip-offs. We, humans, tend to create mental images when we think, read, listen or speak. Those mental images help build our lasting impression of something. Having many identical titles in the same franchise contributes to blandness. It also sounds greedy and exploitative, as if the franchise wanted to recycle the tile as many times as necessary to collect as much money as possible from its fans. The next Tomb Raider movie deserves better.
We also don’t need combinations of the words Lara Croft and Tomb Raider in the title, like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. After 16 main games, 12 mobile and spin-off games, 3 films, an animated series, 6 official novels, and more comic books than I care to count, almost all of which use Tomb Raider and/or Lara Croft in their titles, enough is enough. A little creativity would be nice. Titles such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider already do the job quite nicely, not to mention novels such as The Amulet of Power whose standalone titles don’t hurt the cause either.
The next Tomb Raider movie deserves to have its own creative title, and stand out as its own thing in the larger Tomb Raider context. The fans are really getting tired of calling them the first, the second and the third movie. On top of that come main game titles, where fans come to similar problems (the first original game, the first reboot game). It’s clear that the next Tomb Raider movie desperately needs fresh ideas.
For Lara Croft Not to Overcome a New Challenge
Seriously, how many times in how many ways can Lara Croft search for her mother or father? How many times does she need to come to terms with their deaths? From the first reboot (including Tomb Raider: Legend, Tomb Raider: Anniversary and Tomb Raider: Underworld games), the entire new reboot (the so-called Reboot Trilogy: Tomb Raider 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider), and two out of three movies, the story of Croft and her parents has been re-used more than enough. Maybe it is time to stop imagining Croft in terms of her mommy and daddy issues and start treating her as an adult person, with adult ideas and challenges. The next Tomb Raider movie has a chance of doing just that.
As the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider- The Cradle of Life showed, it is ok for Croft to have a romantic interest and friends, and even to have them at the same time. It would be refreshing to see Croft on screen dealing with the intricacies of friendship, or trying to navigate the world of online dating while hanging from the ceiling of some godforsaken tomb. Or maybe Croft overcomes some new personal obstacle. For example, throughout the franchise Croft has a difficult relationship with planes, she seems to crash them a lot, and I mean a lot. Why not have her develop a severe phobia of planes and put her in an adventure where she has to deal with them all the time?
In any case, it also wouldn’t hurt to see Lara Croft established as a character in the next Tomb Raider movie, instead of having the movie bank its character upon viewers’ per-existing meta-knowledge of it. It’s an easy trap to fall into and takes away all the potential the movie as a media has to offer. While it is harder for action games to work the mundane into their story, it can work quite well on screen. It simply wouldn’t hurt to see some context when Lara all of a sudden speaks every language necessary, can decipher any kind of code, knows how to use any form of martial arts or understands any kind of technology mandated by the plot. Croft has a rich well of history in the TR universe, why not use that? In fact, establishing Lara Croft as a character and letting her have a strong character introduction can work wonders later in the story, when we root for her to solve that puzzle, or outrun that thing in the dark desert.
Not to Have an Original Plot
We don’t need the mish-mash of a plot delivered by the last movie Tomb Raider 2018. While Alicia Vikander’s performance was flawless, the plot didn’t say anything new and contributed nothing to the overall broader story. One of the best features of the Tomb Raider franchise is that, despite its many, many offshoots, it rarely overwrites itself. Save for a few exceptions, every new game, comic book, or novel tries to add detail to the overall Lara Croft story. For example Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Path to Apocalypse novel deals with the events between the events in Mexico and Peru in the main game Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Movies Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Lara Croft Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life deal with completely independent adventures.
That’s what TR as a whole is, it is a sandbox for telling numerous adventure stories with Croft as a protagonist. There is simply no need to take two already existing and polished stories and blend them into something that feels only half-baked, like the Tomb Raider 2018 movie did with the stories of the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot and the Rise of the Tomb Raider games. By the way, do you see what I mean when I say there’s just too much of ‘Tomb Raider’ in the titles? It all just becomes one big bland.
The adventures of Lara Croft have the potential to be much more than recycling old ideas and tried-out storylines. She could be doing something new and different, something that is still a classic TR adventure, yet doesn’t strictly rely on any given timeline. Now, of course, with the popularity of the Reboot Trilogy that is not likely to happen. But even within the Reboot setting, there is bound to be something new to say. And if not that, then at least give us a good adaptation of the Reboot Trilogy. Please, give us at least that.
In any case, whatever the next Tomb Raider movie will be, for now, it’s still in the realm of wishful thinking. Maybe the next Tomb Raider movie won’t happen at all. Or worse, it could happen and be more of the same old. We just have to wait for now and see what happens.