Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean was a diamond in amongst years of failed attempts to launch pirate-based properties on the big screen. The film gained popularity thanks to its clever mix of open seas action and humor alongside a stellar cast of high-profile names.
Since the first movie in the series debuted in 2003 there have been plenty of films released telling the tale of Johnny Depp’s beloved Jack Sparrow and his adventures battling other pirates, the law, and even supernatural beings.
If you plan on binging through the series with set your compass in the right direction. Here are all the films in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in chronological order.
What order are Pirates of the Caribbean set in?
Curse of the Black Pearl
The very first time Jack Sparrow and his crew of unlikely companions graced the big screen was in 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. As the introduction to these characters takes place on screen we follow the blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) alongside Captain Jack, their goals align when Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) is taken aboard the Black Pearl.
As the movie unfolds viewers are invited into the mysterious world of the open seas and treated with their first supernatural threat. This film is widely regarded as the best in the series and for good reason.
Dead Man’s Chest
While Curse of the Black Pearl gave us a look into the backstory of Captain Jack, Dead Man’s Chest focuses on the origins of Will Turner. It introduced us to his father Bootstrap Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) who is sworn to service aboard the Flying Dutchman, a mythical ship captained by Davy Jones, ruler of the seven seas and commander of the feared Kraken.
Dead Man’s Chest is the first film in a two-part story that concludes in the following movie. While the focus is upon Will, the movie also gives viewers a greater exposure to pirate society and the code that they follow.
At Worlds End
After the groundwork set by Dead Man’s Chest, At Worlds End looked to conclude the story taking place upon the Flying Dutchman and it achieved this in style. The film draws to a close with a climactic battle between ships and wraps up the story of its characters perfectly. At the time of the release of this film in 2007, it didn’t look like there would need to be any further additions to the overall story being told, however, the story of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan was dug up down the line to many fans’ disappointment.
On Stranger Tides
As mentioned above, the overarching narrative of first three entries into the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise wrapped up in At Worlds End – so the release of On Stranger Tides looked to tell a story of its own. Drawing upon the ideas showcased in its predecessors and starring everyone’s favorite pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, On Stranger Tides tells us his story of chasing love and encountering the feared pirate Blackbeard.
Aside from some expected stellar performances from Depp and Ian McShane (who stars as Blackbeard), On Stranger Tides struggled, suffering from a disjointed story and serious pacing issues. This film marked what would be an ongoing downwards trend in the franchise.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
In 2017 Dead Men Tell No Tales would launch and looks to be the final entry into the franchise starring Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow. This film follows Captain Jack once again facing a nemesis from his past, this time in the form of Captain Salazar. With his only hope of emerging victorious Sparrow seeks out the fabled Trident of Poseidon, and doing so encounters former crewmates, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.
Upon its release, the film was hit with plenty of criticism, notably for their decision to bring the characters of Will and Elizabeth back to the story once again. Dead Men Tell No Tales is widely regarded as the worst film in the series and its reception could have been the final nail in the coffin for the once groundbreaking franchise.
Fans who want still want to give Disney one last chance reviving the series should be happy to hear that despite the public exit of star Johnny Depp, the studio still have plans to produce another entry.