Lara Croft is the unexpected-superstar and linchpin of the iconic video game-turned-film franchise Tomb Raider. As the series grew and made a significant leap from the console to the big screen, her backstory has always seemed to be in a state of disrepair.
Lara Croft, played by Alicia Vikander, swang her way back into theaters in 2018. This franchise reboot happened after Angelina Jolie’s role in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life (2003) delivered a successful yet utterly forgettable adaptation.
While the 2018 Tomb Raider was seen as unexceptional as the first two movies, its improvements were well-received and just profitable enough for another sequel. Since fans will see Lara dodging bullets and hunting treasure in 2021 yet again, it’s perfect to delve into Lara Croft’s story a little more.
Lara and Her Beginnings
In 1994, a team composed of six people designed the Tomb Raider video game. Produced by Core Design, now Rebellion (Derby) Ltd, it delivered an unexpected smash hit in 1996, saving distributor Eidos from supposed bankruptcy.
Although the original character in the game storyline was a rugged man modeled loosely on Indiana Jones, the protagonist became Lara Croft. According to some sources, the alterations may be due to the studio owner’s fear of copyright litigation.
Moreover, in a 2001 BBC interview, designer Toby Gard said that it’s clearly observable that gamers wanted playable women. To support his claim, he mentioned the first big 3D-character console game, Virtua Fighter, where almost all the players picked one of the only two female characters in the line-up in every game.
After deciding to make a female protagonist, designers opted to begin the game with Laura Cruz, a South American heroine, instead of the then-unbuilt Lara Croft. At first, Cruz was characterized as domineering and combative.
But after moving the character to the UK, in respect of their boss, they turned her into a woman of British nobility and personality quirks.
Lara and Her Father’s Absence
Being a fiercely independent daughter of British aristocracy, Lara has grown disinterested and bored in upper-class society. As she is more interested in probing the mysteries of history and looking for what is believed to be non-existent, she became an archaeologist, treasure hunter, and tomb raider.
Her eccentric adventurer father, Lord Richard Croft, is always dead or missing in nearly all Tomb Raider versions. The 2018 Lara Croft could have chosen to claim all her inheritance and live a lavish lifestyle, but she refused the estate of her father, who was presumed dead.
For her, claiming the estate would mean accepting her father’s mysterious disappearance as sure death. When she’s arrested after being involved in a bicycle accident, an associate of her father bailed her out and explained that she has to claim it; otherwise, the estate will be sold off.
Once she took over their business, she was led to discover a puzzle that gave her hope that her father might still be alive. She embarked on a dangerous journey to his last-known destination, which is a fabled tomb called Yamatai, a mythical island somewhere off the coast of Japan, to solve the mystery.
First created as a sexy character, she has evolved into a powerful icon who is more than a sex symbol in the video game and film industry. There are plenty of lessons to pick up while delving into her self-discovery journey, adventure, and growth.
While exploring her world, Lara fails multiple times, but she continues to choose bravery. She also waves the banner of strong and independent women who are more than capable of taking care of themselves.
Although there have been many changes in her character– from being an established Marvel-tone fighter and adventurer to being a little more human– Lara Croft is undeniably one of the most iconic female protagonists in history.