A Question-Raising Glimpse Behind the Curtain of 2018's Tomb Raider

The underwhelming first photos of Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft raise questions about the premise of the film.

On February 5, a series of images showing a stunt double for 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot made their way onto the Web. Given that, so far, there have been very few glimpses behind the curtain of the upcoming film, this got fans pretty excited. The question, however, was when we’d get a look at the real deal: Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft.

As it turns out, we didn’t have long to wait.

The following day, photos of Vikander herself — in full costume — began to circulate, and, predictably, the mixed opinions began pouring in. I came down somewhere in the middle, myself, and, not long after first laying eyes on the images, Tweeted as much.

I regret that Tweet. Not because it lost me a significant number of followers — though it did… — but because, as time ticked by, I realised that I actually disagree with what I said.

I stand by what I wrote about having seen better cosplay, but, having thought about it, I don’t consider Vikander’s strong similarity to 2013’s Lara —

— to be much of a positive at all. In fact, it might prove to be just the opposite.

At present, there’s some confusion over whether the upcoming film will be an adaptation of 2013’s Tomb Raider. Certainly, it will borrow heavily from the game, but it’s never been definitively confirmed that it will follow the same story.

If it doesn’t — if it takes elements from the game, but does its own thing with them — then I consider Vikander’s similarity to the in-game Lara to be needlessly confusing. Casual gamers will flock to theatres expecting to see a story they’re familiar with, and, likewise, moviegoers may well pick up the games expecting to find the Lara they saw on-screen. (Admittedly, you might make a similar point about the original, Angelina Jolie films, but they, at least, were their own thing from the start.)

Overly cynical though it may be, if this does indeed prove to be the case, then it would seem that the filmmakers are using the games as a crutch — hoping, perhaps, to sell a few more tickets by associating the film with something it may, ultimately, have little to do with. And, frankly, I find the potential addition of yet another Tomb Raider canon — there are at least four already: Classic, Legend, Lara Croft, Reboot — to be deeply questionable.

Why not use the films to chart the further adventures of the existing Lara, to flesh out her character in ways that might not translate well to gameplay, further establishing a canon we’re still only just getting to know?

Still, reservations aside, I want the film to do well. I want it to be as good as it has the potential to be.

As much as I think there are numerous cosplayers out there doing a much better job, those images are just your average snaps. The film itself will no doubt employ all manner of methods (cinematography, colour correction, special effects) to improve the look of things. I have little doubt that, when we get our first official look at Vikander as Lara, the outfit will look fantastic.

Tempus fugit, and only tempus will tell.