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After making her video game debut in 1996's Tomb Raider, Lara Croft has gone on to become one of the most iconic characters in the history of gaming. The character's tenure has seen her appear in many video games and two films over the years, and now she is returning to the big screen with March's Tomb Raider. Alicia Vikander's portrayal of Lara Croft in the upcoming film will be the fourth different version of the character overall between the games and the films, but for Alicia Vikander, this just adds to the evolution of the Lara Croft and the richness of her history, as she explained:
I think it's a wonderful character that has been with us for like 22 years. She's become a great role model and I love the fact that she's been able to take such a big place as a female character in the gaming world and in cinema. I think there's definitely room for this character to evolve, and it felt like it came out in '96, and I think it reflects a strong woman with the same kind of essence still as a smart, very curious, feisty, vulnerable woman. It's almost like she has changed due to how society has changed, she has become more a woman of now, of the time.
The fact that Lara Croft has endured as long as she has is a testament to the appeal and interest the public has in a strong female character. But part of what has made Lara Croft a pop culture mainstay has been her reinvention. As Alicia Vikander told Game Informer, there is room for the character to grow and evolve beyond the original 1996 iteration. Different versions of a character are sometimes necessary. As society evolves and tastes change, what we want from our stories and characters changes with it. There's a reason the character has been rebooted in the video games to great success. The Lara Croft Alicia Vikander looks to be bringing to the screen is a complex and capable woman; a true badass that reflects society's more nuanced views of women and expectations for female characters. She is a role model not because of her looks, but because of her strength, both inside and out.
There is nothing wrong with new versions of fictional characters, and such evolutions are to be expected in order to keep the character fresh for new audiences and tell different stories. We saw a goofier, more fantastical James Bond before the current crop of Daniel Craig-led films, and the Batman suit no longer has nipples. Changing with the times is necessary and often for the better. Lara Croft in the original video game was the rare female hero in a male-dominated medium. But, as a product of the time, she was hyper-sexualized and featured proportions human biology does not allow for. Angelina Jolie brought the character to life on the big screen, but those films featured a fully-formed, confident Lara, whereas the new film will be introducing the character at the beginning of her journey.
When Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider video game franchise was rebooted in 2013, the focus was more on Lara Croft's survival skills than her looks, and it is clear that the upcoming film is very much inspired from that game. Each of these versions told us something new about the character while still remaining true to her nature as a badass, female Indiana Jones. Now, Alicia Vikander will be introducing fans to another new version of the character that could be the most compelling one yet.
A new version of Lara Croft, and hopefully the first truly great video game movie, arrive when Tomb Raider hits theaters on March 16. Blockbuster season is year round now and March is sneakily jam-packed. Check out our guide to see the biggest films joining Tomb Raider in theaters next month.