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The production of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales hasn't been an easy one for Johnny Depp, whose personal and professional issues have been duly noted in the past year. This latest story isn't likely to make anything easier for Pirates 5 or Depp. The film's writer, Terry Rossio, claims that the villain of the movie was originally a woman, but that Depp ultimately nixed the idea. The villain is played by Javier Bardem in the movie, and Depp's reasoning for why his character couldn't be a female isn't likely to sit well. Rossio writes:
Terry Rossio wrote a lengthy post on his blog about the development process for a screenplay, and touched on the reasons why some his were thrown to the wayside, such as his script for a feature called Lightspeed being "put on the backburner" when Disney acquired Star Wars. Rossio, who wrote all the previous Pirates, wrote an early draft of the Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales that was eventually scrapped (Jeff Nathanson holds the screenplay credit). However, that version had a female villain, and Rossio claims that Johnny Depp vetoed the idea because it was too similar to his film Dark Shadows, which also had a supernatural female villain bent on revenge against the protagonist.
Now, Terry Rossio later notes that this script could have been dropped because it "simply sucked," but he makes it fairly clear that he usually doesn't think that's the case with his scripts. As he elaborates, sometimes it just takes one person with "often just a whim" to destroy years worth of work and world-building.
There feels like there are some key details that we don't know about, but with only the given context of Terry Rossio's words, this is pretty bad. The logic of Johnny Depp's decision doesn't really fly. Sure, maybe the villain in Pirates 5 was similar on a surface level to the one in Dark Shadows, but that means that there can only be one female villain ever? There are a million man-on-man revenge stories, so the decision to take away a female villain -- which are lacking in Hollywood -- doesn't hold up under much scrutiny.
While this decision is enough to really make one bemoan an ugly trend in Hollywood, female villains have been one the rise this year. The Mummy, The Fate of the Furious, and Thor: Ragnarok are all blockbusters that feature women as the main antagonist, so the roles are (very slowly) being created. Plus, we'd be crazy not to remember Wonder Woman, which sheds a positive light on female lead characters in an entirely different way.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is set to sail into theaters on May 26, 2017.