One of the more disappointing announcements of 2022 was the news that Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider sequel had been officially shelved after years of being stuck in production hell. The film was originally scheduled to start filming in early 2020 but suffered numerous setbacks, including rewrites, a literal pandemic, and a change of creative team.
Jake Lunt Davies, one of the artists who had been hired for this project, has generously uploaded some of the storyboards he had created for the cancelled sequel to his professional website. You can find the gallery of these Tomb Raider sequel storyboards over here.
The storyboards give us a tiny glimpse into what I assume is one of the film’s earlier drafts. There are high-speed chases through bustling streets and markets. We see Lara wandering through dimly-lit corridors, using the light from her flare to uncover ancient glyphs and markings. We see Trinity agents breaking into what appears to be Croft Manor – or a museum – in search of a centuries-old dagger. There are booby traps, attempted human sacrifices, daring rescues, and an intriguing sequence showing Ana being encased in gold panelling.
It’s also interesting to see which characters would have been in the film. Trinity agent Ana and Lu Ren, Lara’s companion from the 2018 film, would have returned for the sequel but fans would have been pleasantly surprised to see a few other familiar faces from the Survivor trilogy games. Lara’s friend/love interest Sam can be seen in a few scenes, most notably in a scene where she was mere seconds away from being ritually sacrificed. Trinity council leader Dominguez and his right-hand man, Commander Rourke, would have been among the film’s antagonists.
The film was rumoured to be loosely based on Rise of the Tomb Raider and Shadow of the Tomb Raider but, judging from the storyboards, the film’s story would have differed in a number of ways. Sam was barely mentioned (let alone present) in either of those two games, Ana and Dominguez were never seen together on screen – the latter had the former killed at the end of Lara’s Siberian adventure – and the ancient dagger that Dominguez was after seems to have been housed in a museum instead of hidden away on the top of a long-forgotten underground pyramid in Cozumel. That said, Cozumel was going to be in the film, judging from this tweet from Jake.
And, of course, there was still no sign of Jonah, Lara’s long-suffering but loyal travel buddy from the aforementioned games; Daniel Wu’s Lu Ren would have filled this role in the cancelled sequel.
Sadly, none of the storyboarded scenes were filmed. Director Ben Wheatley and screenwriter Amy Jump both left the project when the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the film’s production indefinitely. Months later, Misha Green (Lovecraft Country) was hired to write and direct the troubled Tomb Raider sequel. Unfortunately, MGM failed to greenlight the project in time and ended up losing the film rights to this beloved adventure franchise last summer.
So it may be a while until we see Lara Croft back on our screens in any form. At the time of writing, there was still no official release date for Netflix’s upcoming Tomb Raider anime series. The next Tomb Raider game is currently in development but little else is known about it at present.
At least we can thank Jake for giving us a sneak peek at what could have been.
All of the images featured in this article are the work and property of Jake Lunt Davies. You can find an archive of Davies’ Tomb Raider sequel storyboards over on his website.
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