The very first trailer for the Tomb Raider reboot has dropped, promising a death-defying adventure on a mysterious island in the high seas. It offers our first real look at Alicia Vikander in action, sporting the iconic tank-top and compound bow of none other than Lara Croft. Drawing from recent iterations of the gaming franchise, Tomb Raider features a young Lara driven by a thirst for adventure, but when things go awry, she must learn to survive whatever the cost.
Billed as the beginning of her legend, the reboot will explore how Lara Croft became the eponymous hero. But what does it actually take to be a satisfying on-screen tomb raider? By looking back at some of the greatest tomb raiders in entertainment, here's what Vikander's Croft has to deliver in order to take the box office by storm.
1. A Passion For Adventure
Whether it's Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, or Uncharted's Nathan Drake, every tomb raider is driven by a passion for adventure. Sure, the promise of fame and fortune is a contributing factor, but the rush of discovery is the beating heart of the job. Fortunately, Alicia Vikander already conveys this in the film's trailer.
Her rapt attention on a three-dimensional puzzle box in the midst of a droll lecture about her future is something adventurers know all too well. It's reminiscent of Indy weighing out sand in a bag or Nathan Drake figuring out the best climbing route up a derailed train. This is the promise of an adventure – whether it's the hunt for treasure or a quest for knowledge.
2. Expert General Knowledge
Finding priceless relics, archaeological curios, or even the truth about your missing father often requires a backlog of expert knowledge, especially when it comes to history. While the Tomb Raider trailer focuses on the heart-racing side of treasure hunting, it still makes time to show Lara Croft's learned background. Her penchant for puzzles is a throwback to the game franchise's earliest polygonal roots, and when she isn't decoding multiple ciphers she's managing to chart her own course across the ocean into inhospitable seas.
We're yet to see if Lara wins at historical trivia, but at least she has the puzzle and nautical sections of the pub quiz covered. While charting a deliberate course into the ominously-named Devil's Sea doesn't sound very knowledgeable, the best tomb raiders rarely use their intelligence intelligently. How many times has Nathan Drake navigated his way to a tomb only to find himself derailed in an avalanche, ambushed by pirates in the jungle, or falling through precious architecture that's exploding all around him? Knowledge might be the path of adventure, but luck is the key to surviving it.
3. A Little Bit Of Luck
Sailing into the Devil's Sea doesn't appear to go swimmingly for Lara Croft, culminating in a daring leap into the ocean during a violent storm. Yet, as with many swashbuckling heroes, luck is on her side; in a manner of speaking. She washes up on the shore of the very island she was looking for and is seemingly captured by Tomb Raider's chief villain, played by Walton Goggins.
Despite the shipwreck and her untimely arrest, Lara survives. Judging from the ensuing action which features Alicia Vikander jumping, shooting, sliding, and sprinting in and out of danger, luck might just stay on her side for the duration of the movie.
It might not be pretty at times, but few tomb raiding jaunts are. In fact, there's often a bumbling, ad-libbed quality to the action of Indiana Jones and the like. Remember Indy diving after a vial of antidote, which rebounds forwards and backwards across a Chinese dance floor to the timorous tune of 'Anything Goes'? Remember Nathan Drake leaping out of a plane to realize that his parachute is peppered with holes, resulting in an eloquent outpouring of "Crap! Crap! Crap!"? A tomb raider needs to be lucky to survive their own desperate obsession with adventure, but that doesn't mean they will survive unscathed.
4. Toughness & The Marks To Prove It
Tomb raiders tend to wear their misadventures on their sleeves. The first teaser poster for Tomb Raider showcased some of the damage done to Lara Croft during the course of her adventures, but if the trailer is anything to go by, then the scratch on her cheek and that bandage on her arm are small marks from massive dangers.
The distress of Lara's attire and body in recent games drew some ire for appearing overly sexual. However, this cumulative damage is a rite of passage faced by many scrambling treasure hunters. It proves they can take a hit and serves as a visual reminder of the back-to-back trials they've had to overcome. Speaking to Vanity Fair about Indiana Jones, George Lucas once said:
It’s one of the few times when the hero [Indiana Jones] gets beat up and he also looked like he got beat up, and he actually continues through the movie looking beat up.
This is part of the Indiana Jones franchise's winning formula, so it's great to see this aesthetic in Tomb Raider. The film will certainly be carrying that tradition on as Lara travels across the island of Yamatai. Due to accidental script releases, we know that this Lara has no time for adversity, rolling with the punches and literally kicking harder when she feels undervalued, which factors in to what may be the totemic part of her character.
5. Someone Worth Rooting For
The best tomb raiders can be snarky, but not at the expense of their likability. Indiana Jones delivers some truly cutting one-liners and Nathan Drake has a self-deprecating charm to his quippy dialogue, but what about Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft? The trailer for Tomb Raider opens with a little tongue-in-cheek introduction to her character at the front desk of her family building. It immediately establishes her as the prodigal daughter, a woman of privilege that's capable of recognizing her own ironies. There's always time for a one-liner on even the most dangerous adventures, and we're confident that this Lara Croft can hit the comedic bull's eye in Tomb Raider - but can she go further?
Alicia Vikander needs to do more than merely run through the jungle and make jokes to become an iconic tomb raider. There's a believable humanity to the best of these characters that supersedes the thirst for treasure. Nathan Drake is an orphan desperately convincing himself of his imaginary heroic heritage. Indiana Jones is a pathological womanizer whose stiff and unconventional upbringing was touched upon in The Last Crusade. Spielberg aptly summed up the plot of Indy's third adventure in an expose with Empire, describing it as:
What if the Grail means more ... it could be seen as a metaphor for the relationship between Indy and his dad? Indy sets out for the Grail but ends up closing the distance between him and his father.
So, how will Tomb Raider mix-up that heartfelt formula? Lara Croft is clearly dealing with the loss of her father, but there's a deeper message to take from the Tomb Raider reboot. In a recent interview with EW, Alicia Vikander discussed what she wanted to convey with her version of the pistol-toting Lara Croft:
I went to the cinema and saw 'Wonder Woman' the other day. It’s a mixture of joy and sadness pouring over me, as I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I haven’t seen women onscreen like that.’ And I wondered how many stories there have there been throughout the years that haven’t been told. If 'Wonder Woman' made such an impact, which it deserves to, then we need to use ten times as much force to make some change. Because it needs to happen.
Tomb Raider will look to channel the profound, empowering impact of Wonder Woman in the hope of beating the game-to-movie adaptation curse and carrying Lara Croft's iconic gaming credentials through to the big screen. Exactly how Warner Bros. intend to do that remains to be seen. However, Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft has promptly shown fans that she has the satirical toughness and wily survivability to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any other tomb raider, be it Indiana Jones, Nathan Drake, or Tom Cruise's half-baked character from The Mummy reboot.