Think of the principal heroines of video action games and you’ll be struggling to come up with many. Women, when they appear at all, tend to be bit characters and minor players. And many don’t even manage to achieve that status in some games – yes, we’re talking about you GTA.
So, following the release of Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy, this seems like the ideal time to take a look at how Lara Croft has evolved over the quarter of a century that she has been with us – and what might also lie ahead.
Revolutionary start for Croft
It was back in the mists of 1996 that the franchise first kicked off. The very first game was created and developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive. The person credited with creating Lara was Toby Gard who cited Tank Girl and Indiana Jones as inspirations.
The 3D grid design that played out in an Egyptian tomb setting was revolutionary for the time and the game was very positively reviewed. This success led to a new game being created annually for the next four years but by the sixth game in the series it was proving to big a task for Core to continue – so Crystal Dynamics took over and have stayed with the project ever since.
As the games became more sophisticated, the character of Lara became more complex. However, this didn’t prevent criticism that the way she was portrayed objectified her, despite her brave and heroic deeds.
Branching out to other media
In 2001 the first film in the franchise was released with Angelina Jolie in the role. The critics weren’t exactly overwhelmed by the plot but most agreed that Jolie made for a good heroine. But perhaps the most damning criticism was that the original game was more involving and cleverly plotted than the movie version.
Two years later, Jolie was back in the role. This time, it was better received with even the distinguished critic the late Roger Ebert awarding it 3 out of 4 stars.
While the production of Tomb Raider games continued, the poor box office performance of the movie sequel was put on ice for a few years. That’s not to say that there wasn’t other Croft action going on. The title became very popular amongst online casino slots fans where it joined a whole host of other movie titles from Gremlins to Ted that have made an easy transition from the big screen. For fans of the video games, this includes much of the spirit of the older titles which adds to its appeal.
New beginnings for the Tomb Raider
The next major milestone came in 2018 with the rebooted Tomb Raider movie franchise starring Alicia Wikander in the title role. In this iteration, she was a strong and independent woman more in tune with the times. And, although some we critical about the plotting, it’s been good enough to ensure that a sequel is in the works. Where director Ben Wheatley and writer Amy Jump will take the story, we’ll just have to wait and see.
But we can be sure that the character of Croft will be moved along and be made action-ready for the world we’re living in today. Because she’s a survivor and always will be, however much times change.