For years on end, making a pirate film somewhat spells box office flop in Hollywood. Directors, writers, and producers alike try to stay away from the touchy topic as apparently, movies and pirates just don’t make a good mix. That all changed when Disney began the acclaimed Pirates of the Caribbean series back in 2003.
Inspired by a ride at Disneyland, Pirates of the Caribbean tells the tale and mishaps of Captain Jack Sparrow. The swashbuckling epic has been told through 5 movies only with the latest one being released a few weeks ago. People just can’t get enough of the antics of Captain Jack, Will Turner, and many others more.
In a span of 14 years, the series has spawned a cult following and fans are always eager to watch the latest adventure of the Pirates on film. Some take it to another level though by looking out for things a casual fan could’ve missed the first, second or 8th time around. There have been a ton of underlying surprises in the series and it’s hard to keep track of each one. Nonetheless, here are 15 things you might’ve missed in Pirates of the Caribbean.
15 Ride References
It’s no secret that that Pirates of the Caribbean is based off a ride at Disneyland. With the setup, the writers have ensured to add a few shoutouts to the theme park ride during the duration of the entire film. In fact, there are quite a few nods to the ride already, but of course, only those who’ve ridden the ride can point these out.
For instance, Tia Dalma’s Swamp is a complete redo of a bayou scene that riders can see at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. Aside from parts of the ride being reenacted on screen, the writers also added a few lines heard from the attraction to play in the movies. For starters, the Dead Men Tell No Tales subtitle for the fifth film is also a famous line in one part of the Disneyland attraction.
14 Curse Of The Black Pearl And Monkey Island
Long-time gamers are definitely familiar with the point and click adventure, Monkey Island. There are actually a lot of similarities between Pirates of the Caribbean and Monkey Island that devoted fans should’ve noticed from the get-go but since Monkey Island is a very old title, not many might’ve noticed the similarities.
The entire plot of The Secret of Monkey Island tells of a curse and a princess in trouble. In the case of Pirates of the Caribbean, the curse is of course none other than The Curse of the Black Pearl and the damsel in question is Elizabeth Swann. Another key similarity is the undead pirate LeChuck who shares a few traits with Captain Barbossa including the fact that they’re both dead and they grow really neat beards.
13 Ships From Other Movies
There are a ton of ships featured throughout the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise and let’s face it, that would’ve cost a lot of money to produce even if they’re just props. The main problem with that is that the prop makers might’ve run out of ideas for ship designs. Lucky for them, film and real world history have a few popular ships to be used as models.
Those who’ve seen Star Trek: Generations’ episode titled "Treasure Planet" might be familiar with Norrington’s HMS Interceptor called the Lady Washington. The ship under Norrington’s command was deeply inspired by the RLS Legacy in the Star Trek episode. Another ship reference is the figurehead on the HMS Interceptor. That same figurehead was placed in front of a real life ship called HMS Victory.
12 Res Ipsa Iloquitur
Rumor has it that Johnny Depp sometimes improvises whatever it is he does as Captain Jack Sparrow. That makes it all the more fun to watch the silly antics of the great pirate. In one scene, Johnny Depp may have given a nod to his real-life close friend, Hunter S. Thompson.
During At World’s End, Jack gives a speech in front of the pirate council to which he says “res ipsa iloquitur.” Translated into English, it means “the thing speaks for itself.” Depp might’ve gotten the line from filming Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Johnny developed a strong relationship with Thompson; who wrote the film, during production. Thompson often spurted out the line during filming and it shows in Captain Jack Sparrow.
11 Johnny Depp’s Ad Lib
The filmmakers scored it big when they cast Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. The award-winning actor seemingly owned the role of the pirate and it’s all thanks to his superb acting. Sometimes during the film, Depp steered away from the script with a few improvised lines of his own.
One of the most popular ad libs for the entire film franchise was when he stumbles down the stairs and stands up with a jar. He wittingly starts singing about how “I’ve got a jar of dirt” and what we got was an instant classic scene. That scene was not in the script and was Depp’s own addition to the film. Aside from this, the line “bring me the horizon” was ad-libbed and Depp said it as an ode to a British rock band.
10 Jack Sparrow’s Islamic Inspiration
Out of all the pirates seen in Pirates of the Caribbean, Jack Sparrow is the least pirate looking of them all. He doesn’t have a peg leg or many pieces on his body that are reminiscent of a great pirate. In fact, Captain Barbossa and Davy Jones look the part more than the series’ lead.
What you may not know, is that Jack’s appearance is indeed inspired by a pirate who converted to Islam after his career ended.
That pirate was named Jack Ward and he remains as the inspiration of Jack Sparrow’s overall get-up in the franchise; the clothes, the eye shadow, the pendant and the headband. Aside from this, one more relation between the two is that Jack Ward’s nickname is Birdy, which is a clear reference to Jack’s surname, Sparrow.
9 Bootstrap Bill Is Gone?
In the third film, we got to see Will Turner’s father Bootstrap Bill aboard the ship of Davy Jones. His father was riddled with the curse and was forced to work with the previous Dutchman for the rest of his life. When Will was made as the new Dutchman, he gave his dad the chance to live out the rest of his life on land. Bootstrap Bill declined the offer though and decided to work with the new Dutchman instead.
They were a close father and son duo up until Bootstrap Bill went missing. Oddly enough, he was nowhere to be found again in the latest film, Dead Men Tell No Tales. He wasn’t even mentioned in the film. He could’ve left his son at some point in time but it’s rather unlikely as he might’ve wanted to spend eternity adventuring with Will instead.
8 The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Reference
The guys behind Pirates of the Caribbean are definitely film buffs as they are more than keen on placing in a few odes to great films in the series featuring Jack Sparrow. Not everyone can see the references though as most of the movie Easter Eggs are either for the older or deeply devoted moviegoer.
In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, we get to see one particular stand-off between Will Turner, Jack Sparrow, and Norrington. Those who’ve seen the classic Spaghetti Western film The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, should be pretty familiar with the scene. It reenacts the stand-off between Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef. In the case of Pirates of the Caribbean, we’re guessing that Turner is the good, Sparrow is the bad and Norrington is the ugly.
7 The Hidden Mickeys
We can’t forget that the entire franchise is from Disney. As such, those with eagle eyes are quick to point out several hidden Mickey’s throughout the franchise. This has been a staple Easter Egg from Disney and for those who weren’t way too attentive, Mickey appears more than once in the entire film series.
In the first film, the first hidden Mickey for the franchise is found when the Black Pearl attacked Port Royale. We see the Mickey shape appear in one of the smokes from the cannons. In the second and fourth film, Mickey’s head was used as a lock design for the Dead Man’s Chest and one of the lockers in Davy Jones’ room.
Perhaps the most fantastic form of hidden Mickey in the film series is the Mickey tattoo on Jack Sparrow in Dead Man’s Chest. The image of Mickey can also be seen in one of the pieces that Jack wears in his hair.
6 The Wilhelm Scream
Even the regular movie watcher knows what a Wilhelm Scream is. It’s the most popular sound effect in history and almost all movies insert the sound effect, regardless of how out of place it seems. In the entire Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, the Wilhelm Scream can be heard three times.
In the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the familiar sound effect can be heard as a background sound during the battle on the Dauntless. More specifically, it’s played during the attack of Barbossa’s skeletal pirates. In Dead Man’s Chest, the scream plays over the Kraken’s attack on the Edinburgh Trader. It plays exactly when Will Turner helps everyone escape. Last but not the least, the sound can be heard during the Singapore battle in At World’s End. It plays when the area housing the fireworks detonates and when the maelstrom comes.
5 The “Immortal” Pirates
One of the most prominent terms in the entire film franchise is “The Curse of the Black Pearl.” In the first film, the crew of the Black Pearl becomes cursed after stealing Aztec Gold. The curse turns them into immortal zombies until they return all pieces of the Aztec Gold. Unlucky for them, one coin went missing and was put in the hands of Elizabeth Swann.
The crew of the Black Pearl can sense where the last remaining gold is. When they have Swann in their hands, she threatens the crew by dumping the coin in the water.
This shouldn’t have posed a problem though because they can basically swim for eternity to look for the coin. Looking for the coin shouldn’t even take long because THEY CAN SENSE IT.
4 Did Will Turn Bad?
At the end of the third film, one extra scene reveals Will Turner’s return to land. As the new Dutchman, he was allowed to return to land once every ten years. We got to see Elizabeth Swann and her and Will’s son, Henry who was a kid back then, waiting for the Dutchman to arrive. Will wasn’t crusty and riddled with barnacles because he couldn’t have broken the rules to be inflicted with the curse of the Dutchman.
When the fourth film begins, Henry - now a bit older - sees his father but is afflicted with the Dutchman’s curse. The time between the extra scene at the end of the third film and the start of the fourth film was very short and it’s unexplained how Will got afflicted with the curse in such a short matter of time. Even more questionable was the fact that Will is a "good guy".
3 Davy Jones Is Alive?
One of the monumental scenes in the original trilogy was the death of Davy Jones. His heart was pierced by his own blade, and his curse passed onto Will Turner. Basically, Davy Jones was a goner and his curse was no more. It was a good end to the memorable villain but not after he appeared in a post credit scene of the latest film.
We didn’t get to see Davy Jones exactly but fans are familiar with his build and tentacles even if it just a silhouette. There are several questions here. First, how would he have come back from the afterlife? Next is that even if he were to come back, he should’ve been in his human form already because his curse was ended in the third film. We might get answers in the sixth film but this is just a really big plot hole.
2 DVD Hidden Features
True to the pirate and treasure hunting film of the franchise, the makers of the Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs love to keep their owners on the hunt for a few hidden features. One of the best hidden features of the Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs is the one found in At World’s End.
A short interview with Keith Richards, who played Jack Sparrow’s dad in the film, can be accessed if DVD owners pressed down twice on the Moonlight Serenade menu option of the DVD. In the interview, Richards explained the links between his real life rocker self and the pirate he played in the films. It was just a minor addition to the DVDs but the feature felt like treasure to be discovered by us wannabe pirates.
1 Prison Dog Is An Adventurer
Among the many animals seen in the film franchise, the most memorable one is without a doubt Captain Teague’s canine companion also known as Prison Dog. The mutt has had his own set of adventures in the original trilogy and it leads many to believe that he could be a better adventurer than Jack Sparrow himself.
Along with the help of Pintel Ragetti, Prison Dog was brought to the island of Pelegosto. When they arrived, Sparrow was hailed as the new chief and this meant he was to be eaten by the natives. Sparrow, Turner and the rest of the crew managed to escape. Prison Dog was left on the island and he was made the new chief, meaning he had to be eaten.
Later on, we saw the Prison Dog inexplicably escaping certain demise by joining the Brethren Court at Shipwreck Cove. When asked how the dog escaped, Captain Teague answered, “sea turtles.”
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