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Why Terminator Is Better For Margot Robbie Than Pirates of the Caribbean


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Margot Robbie is reportedly attached to both a Terminator and a Pirates of the Caribbean reboot, but why would the former be a more fitting franchise for the actor than the latter? Released in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was an unanticipated hit from director Gore Verbinski and Disney. After the then relatively recent failure of Renny Harlin's flop Cutthroat Island, Hollywood had all but accepted the box office potential of swashbuckling action movies had sunk without a trace.

Despite this perceived wisdom, the first Pirates of the Caribbean proved them wrong with a massive $650 million haul. According to critics and fans alike, the movie succeeded thanks to its stellar cast, fast-paced action, witty script, and surprise breakout character Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. While the sequels failed to recapture the critical success of the original, they were massively popular nonetheless, with each movie earning over a billion save for the fifth installment Dead Men Tell No Tales (which still netted a more-than-respectable $800 million).

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RELATED: Why John Cena Would Be A Better New Terminator Than The Rock

In contrast, sci-fi horror franchise The Terminator has struggled to recapture the favor of both critics and audiences since its second outing Judgment Day. Since that 1991 landmark, the reviews and box office receipts of each sequel have grown gradually weaker. Now, leading lady du jour Margot Robbie is rumored to be attached to the upcoming reboots of both high-profile franchises. So, why is the Terminator franchise actually a better bet for Robbie’s impressive career going forward than a proposed Pirates of the Caribbean reboot?

Robbie Already Has A Jack Sparrow-Style Antihero

Since her 2016 debut, Robbie’s Harley Quinn was roundly acknowledged as the breakout star of Suicide Squad. The film may have been deeply flawed, but one thing even its harshest critics agreed on was that Robbie stole the show as the unhinged antiheroine. As of 2021, Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the actor’s signature blockbuster role thanks to her Birds of Prey spin-off movie. This could prove problematic, as the character shares enough DNA with Depp’s Sparrow for Robbie’s Pirates of the Caribbean character to potentially end up being seen as a retread that amounts to “Harley Quinn at sea.”

Both Birds of Prey and Pirates of the Caribbean (particularly the more recent, Jack-centric sequels On Stranger Tides and Dead Men Tell No Tales) are action-comedies that follow an amoral antihero playing both sides off one another in a convoluted plot, whilst also winking at the audience and escaping scrapes through quick wit and guile rather than physical strength. While the conceit of Birds of Prey only shares some similarities with the franchise, the sight of a wisecracking, cunning Robbie heroine will still be familiar for fans of the DCEU spin-off. The character’s comedic lunacy and unhinged attitude are not copied from Jack, but a Sparrow-style heroine for the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot would likely touch on similar territory to the underperforming Birds of Prey. Meanwhile, the fact Robbie is revisiting the role in the upcoming The Suicide Squad means audiences will have seen even more of Quinn by the time the Pirates reboot actually arrives in cinemas.

Terminator Needs A Successful Reboot More

The latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie made “only” $800 million, a sum that was considered a disappointment only because of the incredible success of earlier outings. The three installments preceding Dead Men Tell No Tales made over a billion apiece, a staggering sum that proves the franchise is not in dire straits. In contrast, almost twenty years ago the third Terminator outing Rise of the Machines made $430 million the same year that the original Pirates earned $650 million, and this was only the beginning of the franchise’s gradually worsening financial woes. Since then, 2009’s Terminator Salvation earned only $370 million, the ill-fated reboot Terminator: Genisys made $440 million and, despite bringing back Arnie (as a retired, drape-selling Terminator named Carl), Terminator: Dark Fate earned a paltry 260 million on a budget of over $180 million.

RELATED: POTC: Why Jack Sparrow Is The Series’ Worst Sword Fighter

It is clear after not one, not two, but three failed reboots in ten years that the Terminator franchise seriously needs help at the box office. As a bonafide box office draw in the era of streaming services, Margot Robbie doesn’t come cheap, and the money spent securing her as a star for the Pirates of the Caribbean reboot would be better spent on fleshing out the lore of the fictional universe. Fans may love Depp’s Jack Sparrow, but the superior critical reception of Verbinski’s Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End compared to the later, lesser On Stranger Tides or Dead Men Tell No Tales proves reviewers want more insight into the mythology of the Pirates franchise. With no trouble earning box office returns, the series can now afford to go after a better critical reception where, in contrast, the Terminator franchise needs to prove it can still appeal to audiences, let alone critics.

Robbie’s Star Power Elevates Terminator More

This is arguably more subjective, but Margot Robbie’s statue as a major star would be a first for the Terminator franchise that tends to cast smaller actors in lead roles. Admittedly, Salvation starred Christian Bale at the height of his Batman fame, but that outing also suffered an infamously messy production thanks to casting the star and rewriting the story to prioritize his role. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, meanwhile, did not rely on star power as a general rule outside of Depp (and, at a push, Orlando Bloom, who was known from Lord of the Rings at the time). The series doesn’t need to start now and would be better off ignoring big names and focusing on its story as outlined above.

In contrast, the failure of Genisys could be down to TV’s Emilia Clarke being its most notable star, and the fact that Hamilton and Schwarzenegger were the only notable stars in Terminator: Dark Fate can’t have helped the movie's disastrous box office showing. Robbie’s status could elevate the appeal of a Terminator reboot even more than the rumored casting of John Cena or Dwayne Johnson in the title role as she would be playing a heroic, rather than villainous character, whereas her presence is not as urgently required for Pirates of the Caribbean to win back critical favor.

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