Post by greenapples on Feb 23, 2016 21:46:02 GMT -5
Barbossa isn't a protagonist, but besides the first film he isn't an antagonist either. By the fourth movie he's even helping Jack Sparrow -- and they've always sort of had a rivalry going on, but neither one is more evil than the other.
Like almost every other character in the franchise, Barbossa really only does what will benefit himself. In the second and third movies, Davy Jones and Lord Cutler Beckett were the antagonists, and in the fourth it was Blackbeard. You couldn't even say that Barbossa was a secondary antagonist (like Kaa) -- he's more or less neutral.
Please feel free to post your own opinions.
This may have gone a bit out of hand. It's not really that big of a deal; I just don't want the bad rap.
Considering, good sir, that I happen to be the 'other hand' who made this debate spiral out of control with dearest Rapunzel (sorry, but not sorry, Sage....), I suppose that it behooveth me to explain why I wholeheartedly believe that Captain Barbossa is most assuredly a villain. And since, I already have quite the reputation as playing the villain on the site, though in a metaphorical sense, I am most heartily prepared to accept that in actuality (Though let's be honest, moderate debate is healthy on the ever so rare occasion, so I'm sure this will be kept to a civil conversation, or at the very least, a dull roar...)
As t'was mentioned by you, yes, pretty much every character in the PotC series suffers from the same flaw of "looking out only for me" (with a few exceptions, in say.... Master Gibbs or, more accurately, Phillip and Serena) The main characture difference however, is a set of morals. Every single antagonist character in the series fails to have a decent set of morals. And Barbossa is no exception. In Curse of the Black Pearl, Barbossa's motivation is to free himself from the curse. His lack of moral guidance appears multiple times: committing mutiny, shooting Ragetti to see if the curse is lifted, sacking and looting Port Royal for the last gold piece, being more than willing to kill Will the second time around to ensure there are "no mistakes", leaving Jack and Elizabeth on the deserted island with one pistol and telling Jack he can "be a gentleman and shoot the girl and starve himself," et cetera, et cetera. Now, granted, in this film, he is meant to be portrayed as the villain, so yes, all these rather nasty dealings are meant to be seen by the audience to show him as such.
However, it doesn't end there. In CotBP, his real colours are shown twice: when he bends 'The Code' and or his own word to suit his will. By kidnapping and subsequently marooning Elizabeth by twisting hers and Will's requests, Barbossa shows that not only does he have just his own interests at heart and no one else's, but he is willing to do so at the expense of someone else. Not even Jack would dare to go so far, which is why Captain Sparrow is more fitting of the neutral title than Barbossa. Jack has a moral system. Granted, it's often mad and completely insane, but he understands the concept of what is a 'fair sacrifice versus a careless sacrifice.' When Jack tells Barbossa to kill Will to end the curse, he amends himself by asking Barbossa to wait until the opportune moment, thus giving Will a chance to escape his grisly fate.
Moving on however, we find that Barbossa's nature actually doesn't change in the next three films. Granted, he only arrives in film two for about fifteen seconds, so we'll bypass that one. In At Worlds End, our ragtag bunch of misfits begins by sailing off to save Jack from Davy Jones' Locker. But Barbossa is only there for one reason still: himself. Barbossa, being dead, was brought back to life by Tia Dalma, under the condition that he free her from her curse. Without Jack's ninth piece of eight, this is quite impossible and having been the only one who really knows how to get to the Locker, Barbossa goes quite reluctantly to save Jack, in order to save himself. At the end of the film, when his attempt to free Calypso to have her help the pirates fails, he is left as an unwilling participant of the battle, but fights anyway because he does not wish to die. Self-preservation is his only motivation in this film, so still, villainnnnnnn...... Also, stealing the Pearl at the end of the film for the second time pretty much screams 'pirate,' if not also villain.
And in On Stranger Tides, we have what is probably Barbossa's most depraved deed we've ever seen him commit, which is truly being a villain for villain's sake. Do the words 'seagulls nesting' ring a bell? If not, I'll get there. Let's start with the interrim of AWE and OST, where Blackbeard captures the Pearl. He lost the Pearl, as he lost his leg, did he not? Well, "If that ship be sunk properly, you should be sunk with it." And Jack has every right to say this because the Pearl was sunk properly twice before, and twice before Jack sank with it! (For those who don't know, it was sunk once prior to CotBP and secondly at the end of Dead Man's Chest) But, Barbossa's sense of self-preservation succeeds and he does the ignoble bit of cutting off his own leg and sacrificing the Pearl and it's crew to Blackbeard.
Now, we see that Barbossa's motivation turns from self-preservation to revenge, which leads us to the incident of the 'nesting seagulls'. Bent wholeheartedly on killing Blackbeard, Barbossa allows an entire ship and crew be ravished by mermaids without a second thought or a care in the world. Any other time in the series (i.e. every single Kraken battle in DMC), the character(s) involved at least have the decency to stay and fight and try to defend the ship and those on it until all hope is lost. Barbossa sacrifices two full crews and ships in a single movie, without a single thought but for himself. And that, I believe marks Barbossa as a villain through and through, because it doesn't matter to him who lives or who dies, so long as he lives and he gets what he wants. He may be a pirate who follows the Code (loosely), but he still has no moral compass. And without an honest moral compass, I do not believe Barbossa to be in any way a neutral character, but a complete bone fide villain.
Sir Basil, your Honor, I rest my case and I offer my most sincerest apologies if I have taken far too much longer than was necessary or have overstepped my bounds. And my apologies to you, sir, Captain Barbossa, if my overly worded opinion has offended.
Last Edit: Feb 25, 2016 11:29:17 GMT -5 by heymilo
I ought to chime in, as it was my placement of Barbossa in the "villain" category that started this whole thing.
For what it's worth, Barbossa is definitely my favourite character from the POTC franchise. The fact that I really, really like him, however, has no bearing on his status.
I admit I consigned him to the villain group without giving it any thought at all. I have always considered him a villain; never even thought anyone would have a different view. But I am willing to hear any reasonable debate on the subject, and will definitely move him if I deem it necessary.
I am also in the middle of re-watching the POTC trilogy, in case that throws any new light on the subject. I don't own On Stranger Tides, so I guess I'd better check Netflix for that one.
As Barbossa is clearly a villain in the first movie, I'm thinking you'll have to show that he changed by the 4th, that he softened from villain to neutral. And, of course, there's always the upcoming 5th film to consider, which might change things for us.
Post by greenapples on Feb 25, 2016 18:29:49 GMT -5
I believe that if the story had ended with the first movie, he would absolutely be a villain. Barbossa, however, has been on Jack, Will, and Elizabeth's side many times throughout the films -- even if it was for his own benefit.
In the first film, it's true he did shoot at one of his own men, he did leave two people stranded on an island, he did do all sorts of unnecessary things just for the sake of it. But wouldn't Jack? Jack has no problem lying and betraying others in order to come out on top. But I know, we're not talking about Jack here.
Now you said that in OST Barbossa doesn't care that he sacrificed ships and crew members, but that doesn't make him evil. He doesn't make "careless sacrifices" -- his foresight isn't as strong as Jack's, but he does what he thinks needs to be done. Whatever he did he did for a reason, and he didn't care because he doesn't cry over spilt milk. He's not one to mourn the loss of a group of men who willingly went on a dangerous mission. I sensed a touch of resentment towards him when it comes to revenge on Blackbeard, but (sorry to bring him into this again) Jack spent the better part of ten years waiting to shoot Barbossa. Wanting revenge -- especially when you're a pirate -- doesn't make you a villain. And cowardice doesn't either (not going down with the Pearl).
As for staying to fight until all hope is lost, what about Shanghai? What about when he and Jack were taking the chalices from the Spaniards? What about -- most importantly -- when battling Davy Jones and his crew at the end of AWE? He didn't fight just because he didn't wish to die -- he could've pulled a Jack (at the end of DMC) and commandeered a longboat.
His nature really does change after the first film. For example, he married Will and Elizabeth. True, he wasn't excited about that, but he did it! He absolutely wouldn't have done it in the first film. And take any other villain -- Blackbeard, Davy Jones, Beckett -- I seriously doubt they would have taken the time and effort to marry two people while at the same time engaging in a life-threatening fight with sea monsters. This shows me that Barbossa has grown close to them. He's on their side even if his morals (which he has a few) are questionable. After all, even Elizabeth tied Jack to the Pearl to save herself and Will from the Kraken.
And (as mentioned earlier) he worked with Jack in OST. I can't see Hades helping Hercules accomplish anything, even for his own gain. Barbossa can be trustworthy as long as he has nothing to lose.
So he does good things, but only for himself. It balances out to neither good nor bad. Neutral.
I'd like to talk about this from the point of view of a movie-maker. The opinions about and/or definitions of good and evil as expressed in this film series in no way reflect my own views.
It's clear that in the first film, we have Will & Elizabeth as the heroes, Barbossa as the villain, and Jack as something in between, a criminal the audience can root for. To achieve that neutral status, he must not go too far in his villainous acts, or the audience will never accept him as anything but a villain.
So, Jack has a reputation as a pirate without showing us any piratical acts. Except for some thievery, and that is carefully orchestrated to garner audience sympathy by stealing from a) worse pirates, and b) Will's rival for Elizabeth's hand, a character set up from the start to be disliked, no matter which side of the law he's on. For the rest of the movie, Jack's evil acts are always mitigated by an odd concern for others' well-being. He goes out of his way to not kill Will, rescues a total stranger from drowning for absolutely no reason, and, every time we think he's betrayed the good guys, Jack reveals it was all part of some deeper plan to thwart the real villains.
The only person he deliberately harms is Barbossa, a forgivable act, as the villain must be defeated in the end.
The question is, do the filmmakers play the same game with Barbossa? Is he intended to be not quite a villain?
Certainly not in Black Pearl, where he is completely the main villain with no mitigating circumstances. Although he is a very cool character, we are not meant to feel any kind of sympathy for him, or to believe he is, at heart, a good man (or at least, a pretty good one).
Dead Man's Chest is about good and evil, about how far a criminal will go to do good, and how far a "good guy" will go to do wrong. As such, the waters get a trifle muddier, and it isn't easy to tell the good guys from the bad. But the adding of worse villains helps to create audience sympathy for the recurring characters. Beside which, Jack is far too engrossed with saving his own skin to engage in any crimes.
To be sure, he does behave abominably, with none of the regard for Will's well being showed in the first movie; this is to show the struggle within Jack between good and evil, and to make his eventual return to the ship more meaningful.
And, no, the discussion isn't about Jack. But examining his carefully-cultivated neutral status can help, I think. As for Barbossa, his involvement in Dead Man's Chest is negligible, and sheds no light on the question.
I'll be watching At World's End again as soon as possible to gather more data. And then On Stranger tides, if it's available on Netflix.
I watched At World's End last night and would like to present my views:
This third film is very much about betrayal. All the main characters make deals and agreements, break them, and change their allegiance so many times that it becomes nearly impossible to remember who is on whose side. All this makes for a scarcity of heroes as everyone slides more nearly toward the side of evil than toward good. The only really heroic act performed is Elizabeth's willingness to be traded to Sao Feng in order to save the others, though Will at least has a good motive for all his treachery in the desire to keep his promise to rescue his father.
The only thing that saves our cast in the eyes of the audience is, once again, the presence of worse villains than a slew of pirates, namely Davy Jones and the odious East India Trading Company.
I'm afraid I don't see any indication here that Capt. Barbossa has drifted out of the realm of villain. He works with the others in as far as is necessary to further his plan to defeat the EITC, all the while bemoaning the need to rescue Jack. He determines to keep the Black Pearl, insisting it belongs to him, though he only got it through a treacherous mutiny. He cares nothing in particular for anyone save his pet monkey and his own skin. He even directly disobeys the order of the Pirate King, though that is supposed to be anathema to a buccaneer.
True, he marries Will and Elizabeth in the middle of a battle. But, why not? It doesn't cost him anything; in fact, he seems to me to think the whole idea is absurd.
At the very end (my favourite scene), he does show respect to Elizabeth, as does the entire crew. But she's just proven herself to be a capable Pirate King, and her plan to fight worked well (aided, of course, by his plan to free Calypso). I question whether this makes him any less of a villain.
As far as the filmmakers were concerned, ti seems pretty obvious to me that they intended the entire remaining crew of the Pearl to be considered by the audience as villains in the end, which is why they so carefully removed, not only Jack, but also Gibbs, too humane a man to ever be a true villain, before the Pearl sailed away, stolen once again by that villain Barbossa.
As I suspected, if Barbossa's status is to change, it will have to be due to On Stranger Tides, which is next in my Netflix queue.
Post by greenapples on Mar 1, 2016 13:11:31 GMT -5
This film series really plays with the boundaries of good and evil. But like you said, the main characters are all pirates, murderers, and thieves -- we only root for them because the other option is worse (Jones, Blackbeard, EITC)
But maybe it's all relative. For example, Lady Tremaine is no where near as evil as Jack Sparrow. She hasn't killed or stolen; she just abused her step daughter, and it wasn't very extreme abuse, like some of the things these pirates do to each other. Yet we still see her as more of a villain than we see Sparrow. Why? Because we compare her to Cinderella, who is so kind and pure, while we compare Jack to those even worse villains (mentioned above) where he's more virtuous than they are.
It seems to me that you are trying to compare Barbossa (and the rest of the crew) to those heroes as ethical as Cinderella, Hercules, Aladdin, etc. instead of to heroes like Jack, Will, and Elizabeth who, while being on the good side, are thieving and murdering pirates.
And to what you said in your second to last post:
"To achieve that neutral status, he must not go too far in his villainous acts, or the audience will never accept him as anything but a villain."
I disagree. The audience accepts what the filmmakers want them to accept. I don't know about this in real-life, but in movies and TV shows, characters do turn from good to evil or from evil to good. Regina from Once Upon a Time is an example. She killed in cold blood, she cared about no one but herself in the beginning. But when she wanted a 'happily ever after' she realized she needed to switch sides. Motivated by her own (perhaps villainous) self interests she became a 'good guy'.
Don't tell me that the audience can never accept a villain as a hero. Look at Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, Gru from Despicable Me, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and the Grinch? I know we're not talking about any of these characters, but characters can change sides.
Of course everyone is entitled to his opinion; mine is no more or less valid than yours. But I maintain that there are certain places a character may not go, or else he will not be accepted by the audience as a hero (the audience as a whole--there will always be a minority that doesn't fit the general characteristics).
Which doesn't mean a character can't reform. Ebeneezer scrooge is mean and heartless, but he doesn't actively abuse anyone, except, perhaps, verbally. If he was, say, a murderer, would we call it a satisfying ending when he changes his tune? Not unless he goes to jail or is otherwise punished. This is why, for all the sympathy we feel for the Phantom of the Opera, he cannot live happily ever after at the end of the book and/or play.
The Grinch is a comic villain whose evil ends with stealing Christmas trees, and that in a comic, over-the-top way. Notice that Gru is called a criminal mastermind, but we really don't see him doing much by way of evil. He spends most of the (first) movie fighting a different villain, once again giving the audience no reason to really hate him or demand justice upon him.
Now, Darth Vader, once he repents, is wisely killed off by the filmmakers. Are we going to watch him sitting down to dinner with Han and Leia? ("Sorry I tortured you guys. And killed off thousands of your rebel buddies. Not to mention my own admirals.") He does switch sides, and it works because he then gives his life to save Luke.
In Dead Man's Chest, I could see Norrington's death coming a mile away. He'd just gone too far down the wrong road to ever get back where he'd started in the eyes of the audience. Death was his only way out, cinematically speaking.
And, BTW, as far as we know, Jack Sparrow never murdered anyone except Barbossa. And that was killing the villain at the end of a battle, which the audience will generally accept. In fact, Jack is anachronistically merciful throughout the trilogy. On purpose, I have no doubt. Will and Elizabeth, though straying into pirate territory, are very carefully made to be not murderers.
Post by greenapples on Mar 1, 2016 23:28:41 GMT -5
I hope there's no bad blood between us. I really like you and respect you as a writer and an intellectual. I also absolutely respect your opinion. Just wanted to clear that up.
I'll take back Gru and the Grinch because, as you said, they're just comical, but I stand by Scrooge and Vader. Vader died, and Scrooge wasn't as bad as Barbossa, but both were redeemed in the eyes of the audience. Though you might argue that both characters were created with the intention of having them turn good in the end. But what about Regina in Once Upon a Time or King Richard in Galavant (just two examples)? They both start out as bad guys in their TV shows with the writers having no intention of turning them good, but they evolved into better people throughout the episodes -- and the audience accepts that!
You were right when you said that seeing Barbossa as a villain or as a more neutral character is a matter of opinion. I'd just like to dig deeper into both of our thought processes to find the facts that determine our views of the character.
It's also true that Jack, Will, and Elizabeth haven't killed any main characters, but they kill those nameless crew members and royal soldiers who aren't on their side. They were in combat, but it's still murder. Barbossa hasn't really killed anyone either, though! He left Jack to die, and he shot at Pintel to see if the curse was lifted (mostly for comedic purposes), but those, again, were in the first film where he was undeniably a villain. I believe it was Milo, though, who pointed out that Barbossa didn't seem to care that a whole shipload of people died. But would Jack? Would Mr. Gibbs? They're not villains but they really don't care about anyone else.
I'm not saying he's a hero, he's more of an antihero. The only reason I wouldn't definitely call him an antihero is that the plot doesn't revolve around him.
And back to that scene where he marries Will and Liz, true he did it reluctantly and he thought it was absurd, but that was because they were in the middle of fighting, not because he didn't like them. After all, how evil could he be if they even considered asking him? Phillip and Aurora wouldn't ask Maleficent to marry them. Hercules and Meg wouldn't ask Hades to marry them. This pattern sort of leads me to believe they've come to accept each other as friends.
And again, I really don't feel that strongly about it. 'Villain' sounds a heck of a lot cooler than 'Neutral'. It's just that as you said you'd never thought of him as anything but a villain, I never really saw him that way after the third movie. But that's where that opinion comes in again. . .
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2016 23:29:18 GMT -5 by greenapples
I don't watch Galavant, so I'll let that lie. But I have to admit that Regina bucks the pattern. Though episode after episode is devoted to her trying to become (and remain) a hero. The lines are so blurred (by design) in that show, that it defies definition.
I hope there's no bad blood between us.
I'll second that. If we can't debate this and remain on good terms, then the whole section of the site has got to go.
And I have to agree that, in the long run, either choice, villain or neutral, won't have any earth-shaking effect. It's not a deal-breaker for me, and I hope it isn't for you.
Post by elizabethswann on Mar 2, 2016 18:47:16 GMT -5
Okay, I'll finally put my two cents in.
Not really. I've kept mum on this for a reason... We'll not get into that though.
Barbossa, I suppose we can still be pals.
And yes, I agree. If this section led to such disagreements that it began affecting posting with other members, I would say it had to go. As it is, this appears to be a wonderful idea, and I thank Jadon wholeheartedly for it! It's a good way for is Disney fans to discuss different topics in a new way. Well, new to the site.
I must say I enjoyed analysing the 3 films, and look forward to number 4. I've never given them that kind of in-depth consideration before.
And, I am prepared to move Barbossa to a Neutral. Even though I still think "Villain" is more appropriate for him, it's not by much of a margin, as those films delight in blurring the lines of demarcation.
Besides which, there are a few other characters who could possibly fit in more than one category. So it's really just a matter of opinion.
BTW, even if you play the most evil villain of them all (whoever that may be), it doesn't mean they can't kick back and do some non-villainous things on occasion. Including making friends with a hero, if circumstances dictate.
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