Despite having years of production problems, the upcoming Uncharted movie appears to be moving along swimmingly, with Tom Holland reportedly done with filming. On top of that, the star recently released the first photo of himself as Nathan Drake on social media, and the voice actor who plays the character in the video games, Nolan North, has posted photos on his own pages after visiting the set. All these sneak peeks seem to point to various aspects of the production, including what the story might be about. So, I went digging to see if I could find any clues. Here's what I learned.
They Want Tom Holland To Match The Look Of Older Nathan Drake
When it was announced that the Uncharted movie would be dealing with a younger Nathan Drake, we never really knew how young. In several of the games, there are flashbacks featuring the hero in his younger years – sometimes when he’s still a fairly young kid. Much younger than Tom Holland.
The young Nathan Drake in the video games could be seen wearing a long-sleeve baseball tee with jeans and a satchel, and on another occasion he’s wearing a jean jacket. The older Nathan Drake never really wore the costume that Tom Holland is sporting in the first look image. All that being said, in the games he was clearly still a kid and he still had a lot to learn, and that doesn’t seem to be the version of the character we’re going to meet in the Uncharted movie:
This look is very much in line with the older Nathan Drake. In this photo, Tom Holland’s wearing a dirty light shirt with brown cargo pants, something the playable character in the game might wear. But, more notably, he’s donning the brown shoulder holsters that Nathan Drake wears in the games.
It's easy to shrug this off, but I think it says more than one might think. First, even though Tom Holland is playing a younger version, they want fans to associate him with the older Nathan Drake. They want to have their cake and eat it too. This makes sense because video game fans know the older Nathan Drake more, right? Giving fans anything else might risk making it seem too different. So, go into the movies knowing you'll be getting a young Nathan Drake, but one that's evolving into who he becomes later on as an adult.
There Are Going To Be Puzzles
I know what you’re thinking. “It’s Uncharted! Of course, there are going to be puzzles!” But slow down a second. This is a video game adaptation we’re talking about here. We all know filmmakers have a bad reputation for not sticking to the essence of a video game and going off on their own path instead. There was no guarantee that they’d include some of the key elements of the source material. For example, the Tomb Raider reboot (which also centered on a younger Lara Croft) subdued the puzzle element of the video game. They had some puzzles for sure, especially at the end, but it was clear they decided to focus more on spectacle and action.
With the latest photos revealed by Nolan North on his social media, one thing becomes clear right away: the puzzles may be a big deal for this movie. This hit me specifically with the photo of the gold cross. First off, it’s in what looks like an abandoned cave. More importantly, it has several circular devices surrounding it. The games often had these contraptions, forcing the player to line them up correctly to open a door or reveal something new. The puzzle element made the game way more fun and challenging and is a key part of what makes the games so great. Without it, Uncharted just wouldn’t be the same. Hopefully, this means they’re going to lean in on this and make the characters try to figure these things out.
It Could Be About Ferdinand Magellan
Here’s where things get even more interesting. It’s hard to have an archaeology movie that’s not based somewhat on history. The Uncharted games have always done an awesome job trying to tie the two together; it makes the story way more compelling.
One of the pictures Nolan North revealed was of a book with a drawing of a man on the left and text on the right. Most of the text is blurred out, but I took a closer look and discovered a few things.
First, the book is called The Life of Ferdinand Magellan, and the First Circumnavigation of the Globe by Francis Henry Hill Guillemard. If you’re looking for a real page-turner, you can read this book for free on Google. As you probably have already gathered, it’s about Magellan’s voyage to the Maluku Islands (once called the Spice Islands for their abundance in a variety of spices, like nutmeg, mace, and cloves). While Magellan mostly gathered spices to bring back to Spain, it’s said he also found an abundance of gold. As you probably know, archaeological movies and gold go together like peanut butter and jelly. So there’s a good chance Magellan’s discovery of gold could be part of Uncharted's plot.
Here’s the second thing that’s pretty interesting. We all know Magellan was supposedly the first man to circumnavigate the globe (he didn’t, but more on that later). Who was the second man to circumnavigate the globe? Sir Francis Drake, Nathan Drake’s ancestor and one of the key historical figures that show up in Uncharted and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. 60 some years after Magellan, Sir Francis Drake followed Magellan’s path and made it around the world.
But It’s Likely More About Juan Sebastián Elcano
Here’s the thing about Magellan: He didn’t personally circumnavigate the world. He died in the Philippines in 1521 during a battle and never made it back to Spain. The man who did make it back was one of Magellan’s fleet officers, Juan Sebastian Elcano, who took control of the ship known as the Victoria, traveled through the Indian Ocean, and eventually made it back to Spain, albeit in fairly bad condition.
Here’s why Uncharted's plot might be more about Juan Sebastian Elcano. In the photo of the book The Life of Ferdinand Magellan and the First Circumnavigation of the Globe, the page is turned to near the end of the book, which is about Elcano’s return to Spain, being paid 500 ducats, and given a coat of arms. Since most of the filming for Uncharted was done in Spain, I’d say the pieces are starting to connect. This could be about the treasures Elcano brought back.
Pope Alexander And The Treaty of Tordesillas Might Be A Key Plot Point
But that’s not all! I came across one more important clue that might tell us more about the story. One thing about the photo with the gold cross perplexed me. It seemed important, but I couldn’t place it until I did a bit more digging.
First, a little history lesson. After Christopher Columbus returned to Spain, there was a territorial dispute between Spain and Portugal. To settle it, Pope Alexander put in motion a treaty that eventually became the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, giving the Portuguese Eastern trade routes around Africa and to Asia. Years later, Magellan (who was Portuguese) consistently had his expedition requests denied by King Manuel of Portugal. So he went to King Charles I of Spain instead and suggested going west, bypassing Portgual’s routes. It had never been done before.
That brings us back to the gold cross. It looks an awful lot like the Papal Cross. The key difference is that it has four bars rather than three. Still, since Magellan was a staunch Catholic and known to evangelize in the Philippines, and since the Treaty of Tordesillas caused him to take the western route, it seems suspect that they would show a gold cross resembling the Papal Cross. If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say that it was in Magellan’s possession and Nathan Drake is trying to find it.
The beauty of Uncharted, like Indiana Jones before it, is that it finds clever ways to mix fact and fiction. I have no doubt the filmmakers will do that for this movie. They could easily intertwine Magellan and Elcano’s voyages with myths about buried treasure, hidden artifacts, and who knows what else. In the end, it’s a clever idea to focus on Magellan’s voyage in this Uncharted movie since that is, in a way, a prequel to Sir Francis Drake’s voyage. And, if I were a betting man, I’d wager they’ll likely find a way to connect those two as well, but we'll just have to wait and find out as more about the movie is revealed.