We are currently living in a nightmare vortex where every day feels like a week, a week feels like a year, and it seems like our dystopian present has always been and will always be. Time has lost all meaning, so the news that Disney is considering rebooting Pirates of the Caribbean just one year after releasing a new Pirates movie is, yeah. Why not? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales came out last year and next year and a hundred years ago. Time is taffy, so go ahead and reboot Pirates.
Although it’s not clear what “reboot” really means. Jerry Bruckheimer is still in charge, so it’s not like this will suddenly become a historically accurate series of piratical adventures. And it’s not clear if Johnny Depp will return as Jack Sparrow—if he does this is not a reboot, it’s just Pirates 6, a movie already penciled in at Disney. “Reboot” implies change, it implies new, and Bruckheimer and Depp making another Pirates is not change or new, it’s just another Pirates. What is new is the writing. Disney met with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the duo behind Zombieland and Deadpool. That actually seems like a good fit for the Pirates franchise, assuming it stays in a similar, supernatural lane.
But maybe, with all that has happened in the last year, particularly in the last few months, Disney is actually considering dropping Depp. When the James Gunn situation blew up, a lot of people, including me, noted that firing Gunn but keeping Depp was hypocritical. Maybe Disney heard that. Maybe they see an opportunity to fix something in their house. Or maybe it’s just Depp’s legal woes have become distasteful, as that suit over punching a crew member on set hasn’t gone away. It would be something for Disney to cut ties with Depp, especially as other studios have not, even as his reputation sours. Disney would be the first studio to imply Depp’s ROI is not what it once was.
There’s a chance Disney uses this moment to really shake things up and totally overhaul—or careen, if you will—the Pirates franchise. But there’s an equal chance they don’t and we get another Depp-Sparrow movie. It’s Schrödinger’s franchise. All we really know is Disney met with Reese and Wernick, so “reboot” could mean anything. It could mean just cooking up a new story for Jack Sparrow that doesn’t involve some combination of Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, and/or Captain Barbossa. Or it could mean reinventing a franchise that just released a new movie last year. Hey remember when “reboot” meant bringing back something from a previous era? Those were the days, when “reboot” implied some time had passed, time which was defined by interstellar bodies orbiting in fixed points within three-dimensional space. Now time is defined by the length of our screams into the gaping void of eternity. So yeah, reboot Pirates of the Caribbean, an ongoing franchise still releasing new movies.