If Tomb Raider is a Superhero Origin Story, When Does Lara become Lara?

What makes Lara the character she really is? Could the new game have a defining "suiting up" moment like a superhero origin movie, and if so what form do you think that would take?

Every superhero origin movie has that iconic moment where the legend is born; Clark Kent putting on the cape, Bruce Wayne donning the cowl, Peter Parker unfurling the mask. It's a trigger point both emotionally and narratively, and let's you know that the hero you're familiar with has arrived. Regardless of what has gone before, they are past the point of no return, and the persona is established. Though Lara Croft isn't exactly a superhero, her place in the pantheon of modern day action heroes is safe and secure. She transcends the medium from which she was born, and thanks to a fairly consistent cross-media effort from Core Design, then Eidos, and now Square-Enix she is known by more than the just those of us that have played the games in which she stars.

Throughout the game, it seems apparent that we'll see nods to actions that we know she takes in later episodes, but at what point will we know it's really her? We know that she kills for the first time in this reboot, but is that her defining moment?

All told though, what really makes Lara, Lara?

The new Tomb Raider from Crystal Dynamics is still eight months away from release, but Comic-Con 2012 represents an important moment for the new game as it's the first time that the public has been able to get their hands on it. What's clear is that the gameplay is a slight departure from the classic formula. Yes, it's still a third-person action game with Lara firmly at the center, but there's now an emphasis on survivalism, stealth, and even lightweight RPG-like XP allocations. Want Lara to have better aim, or be able to fall from greater heights? Now you can boost specific skills and affect the way your experience with her unfolds throughout the game. It's not innovative stuff by any stretch, but it affirms the more considered, and character-focused approach that the new game takes.

Key to that focus on character is the fact that, like any superhero origin movie, we know where this is going. We know that Lara grows up to become a tomb raiding, gun-toting posh girl with a global network of adventuring chums that can help her out when she's in a bind. "You're a Croft, Lara," says her mentor Conrad Roth in the last trailer, in a nod to her adventuring (what's the word?) nobility that's only really been touched on a little over the past 16 years. Clearly her experiences on the isolated Pacific island in the Dragon's Triangle (it's just south of Japan, if you're interested in the approximate real-world location) are shaping her future abilities. In the relatively brief playable demo she shows her athletic abilities by climbing up a crashed plane, her skills with weaponry when she grabs a bow and arrow from a corpse and starts shooting at animals, and her tremendous tolerance for pain…well…pretty much all of the time. Throughout the game, it seems apparent that we'll see nods to actions that we know she takes in later episodes, but at what point will we know it's really her? We know that she kills for the first time in this reboot, but is that her defining moment? Surely she's much more than a badass killing machine, and our interview with both new Lara Croft actress Camilla Luddington and Crystal Dynamics' Karl Stewart (embedded below) certainly indicates that this is the intent.

So, will the game have a "suiting up" sequence, and if so what do we consider to be Lara's "suit"? Is it simply the double gun holsters? Or is it the full 1996 Tomb Raider ensemble with the teal tank-top, shorts, braided ponytail, and big boots? In the first episode of Tomb Raider: The Final Hours, Luddington says "the shorts are gone," perhaps acknowledging that the old style is gone for good. So are we going to see (and this is certainly my hope) that Lara is defined by much more how she looks and what she can do physically?

What do you think makes Lara the character she really is? Is she more than an image? Is she unique in that she can be recast with a different face, a different voice, a different body, and a different look but still maintain her true self? Is she becoming a character like Batman, where her look can be tweaked and changed with successive tellings of her story? Let's get a conversation going about this. Let us know what you think of this, and the possibilities for other important gaming characters in the comments.

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Discussion

83 comments
icebox98
icebox98

one of the trailers on utube left me hanging:

lara (while in the ship) was some sort of smartphone with the loud small headsets, stuff that is too futuristic for a setting that should be no earlier than 1996 *the year i know first tombraider game was released*

 

so talking about the flashback story, it aint making much sense.............otherwise, the game will rock!

 

icebox98
icebox98

The game is gonna be way too good, but i have a feeling that its not going to suport the stories of the main game.....

 

in short, the game will be like a brainwashed version of lara (somehow with the usual senses and everything) in another game with a story that never joins with that of its predecessors

 

RaiceGeriko
RaiceGeriko

I think the whole story is going to be utter bullshit, to be perfectly honest.  I'm sure it will be a fun game, and it will probably "OOOO" and "AWE" people over how "dark" and "gritty" and "real" the story is.  But... the whole thing is purely fantasy bullshit from the word go. Here's the deal - want to know what makes Spiderman a believable character?  Nevermind the whole spider stuff.  Even without the super-powers, Peter Parker would STILL be an interesting character.  Here's why:  He constantly suffers from the duality between providing for the needs, safety, and care of every human being in New York City vs... just doing whatever the hell he wants to do.  This is the core of what makes Peter Parker/Spiderman a great character to begin with.  He is a great character, because his core is totally based in reality.  Men understand this very simple and very basic concept.  "I want to do this.... but this here really needs to be done, even if it means I can't do what I want."  This is called sacrifice.  We do this on a constant basis. Lara never had a character outside of fantasy.  She was a female character written by a male who has no understanding of male/female social psyches.  "Rape victim turned strong, independent woman."  Bullshit.  Rape doesn't make a woman strong or independent.  She doesn't wear that shit like a girl scout patch of honor.  If anything - it does the exact OPPOSITE.  I'm so sick of this crap running rampant in our media. Anyway... I really hope they have something better than that planned.  Everything else aside, if "surviving rape" ends up being the turning point that really "changes" this Lara into the Lara we presume she is supposed to be (even though her character has always been paper thin), then all I can do is hope that people are smart enough to realize the bullshit when they see it. What would be WAY more awesome, and WAY more realistic, and WAY more interesting, is if her turning point (her character core conflict) was to find her way back to being able to put her trust in someone (anyone) once again, AFTER she was raped.  Her entire reasoning to all the dungeon spelunking that ensues later in her life, is really just her trying to defy that very basic, human need - to need and understand and appreciate the value and joy that others can bring to your life.  She constantly seeks danger, and adventure in these tombs of solitude because it's the only thing that she can identify with.  She is alone, lonely, desperate to LIVE once again.  She isn't looking for treasure - she is looking for herself - someone she lost a long time ago.  Anytime someone tries to get close to her, she runs away, again and again on some other adventure - she uses it as an excuse.  She doesn't really care about the treasure and reward (she's stupid rich anyway.)  She just wants to be alone because she is dealing with the abuse that she experienced.  The "fame" haunts her, because she is ashamed of when she was "weak".  When she is Tomb Raiding, she is actually deep in thought - she should start running into manifestations of her mind in these games, by the way - constructs that represent her fears and struggles. THAT would be interesting, and THAT would be realistic, and THAT would be the positive character image that girl gamers could identify with and relate to that isn't full of bullshit and make-believe, and male gamers could actually appreciate rather than her hotness.  That sort of story is worth telling and reading/listening to.  Anything short of that is just a waste of time and money if you ask me.

BloodRustKai
BloodRustKai

The moment for me would be when you can lock your butler in the freezer. It is not Lara Croft if this does not happen!!!

 

SDTalyor
SDTalyor

To me, I see this game doing to Lara Croft what Other M did to Samus Aran. I'm interested in this game, but so far like the old shorts wearing, duel pistol weilding, acrobatic Lara Croft better than this new scaled down lara croft. if they don't return to the real Lara after this origin story, I may forego any further games, and just be content to play through the trilogy collection again.

Amitoabe
Amitoabe

I just hope there will not be a chocobo or moogle in the game, now than Square Enix owns the franchise.

GianniBR
GianniBR

Sometimes a reboot may goes better than the original. Want an example?? Our little Batman of Nolan franchise is better than the old ones, no?? :P

lokar82
lokar82

Lara's not a superhero, just a badass adventurer.  The only thing that would make any sense for this game is that she was a girl caught in dangerous situations, overcomes obstacles, develops a hatred of tigers and tyrannosaurus rexes while overcoming those obstacles, realizes when she has survived all this that she is the greatest adventurer ever and embarks on her globe trotting lifestyle afterwards.  I have played Tomb Raiders since getting a 3dfx card for the first game and am afraid with the direction they are taking this.

Sndewey
Sndewey

Think about it this way through anybody who is not a active  navy seal in Lara's situation and you are going to strugle, probably die. Surviving somthing like that would really show off your survival skills. Honestly I dont care what they do to the character, as long as its a good game. However the previous games in the franchise have alot of puzzles involved in them, i think we can say good buy to that, but what do i know ive only seen two demos.

vsnake48
vsnake48

I love how they're making a thing out of the "this is the first time she kills someone" factor. I hope it doesn't affect her too badly, because we gamers do tend to like killing excessive amounts of people / monsters / crates (!) 

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

Her "suiting up" moment, for me, would be putting her hair up. :)

KFHEWUI
KFHEWUI

UGH!

 

Wow! Thanks, Crystal Dynamics for screwing up the series.

 

Lara's mentor is NOT Conrad Roth, but Werner Von Croy when she was a teenager. It is sad to see the clowns at Crystal Dynamics butcher a series that I love so much. I wish Eidos would put this series down for good instead of milking it.

zulwalks
zulwalks

Well....lara croft doesn't seem to mind the danger in the adventures she's in in the game and in fact, she actually embraces it....I think that the defining moment for lara croft should be that she stumbles upon a huge tomb full of ancient gold that would make her a kazillionare (she becomes so rich people make a new number for her) and suddenly all the danger and the pain seems all worth it.....and then she picks up another handgun, and start shooting tigers.....yeah.....loved the original game....although at the time I was a very small kid and didn't understand what was going on.....

Splincir
Splincir

She goes and gets a boob job, puts on the teal tank top, and voila! Lara Croft.

ice-milk
ice-milk

She has to realise that all men are pricks, visit "Uncharted" places and figure out that the world is created purely for her adventuring pleasure and her egotistical desires.

Opstinger
Opstinger

If I were to rename this reboot, I would rename it as simply "Lara Croft". This way you don't need to reference Lara Croft as depicted in the old Tomb Raider series.

 

It's simply "Lara Croft", the survivor, the heroine.

DarthLod
DarthLod

When politically correctness comes along and ruins everything. Here we have a prime example of that.

JJB03
JJB03

I hope there is not a 'suiting up' as such and they make a new lara that is more believable in terms of character, that does not conform to the generic 'sexy action heroine' that we saw in past games. Yes the fact that she was a sexual icon that skips around in skimpy clothing and stuff that made her this big up until now, does'nt mean she has to become that now. I think she should keep her more grounded and believable characteristics that we should hopefully see in this game.

Fartman7998
Fartman7998

Personally I don't mind the getup that she normally wears.  Actually, it kind of reasserts the fact that she's more than a talking pair of boobs.  When the bad guys see that she's sexy, and yet she still kicks their butts, it makes her more of a superhero-ish type. 

 

Just a thought.  Then again, they're trying to reboot Lara, so perhaps it is time for a step in another direction.  I don't think anybody is complaining about the scantily clad Lara though.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

The iconic moment will probably be when the controls all of a sudden lose their fluidity. And making jumps become a lot more frustrating. I'm glad for the new direction change. Say what you want, but if Tomb Raider had been staring a guy or a chick with more covering clothes and less figure the series would have been a forgotten memory by now, and if not would not be nearly as big as it is now.

Mister_Zurkon
Mister_Zurkon

I like that they are making Lara a deeper character...

But casting a VA who's best known for getting naked on camera is not a reassuring first step.

OurSin-360
OurSin-360

I hope they grow her in a different direction than before.  She was iconic yes, but pretty much a stereotype without a lot of depth.   All she needs is to raid tombs and be able to shoot things to be lara, so they can develop her character in many different ways.  I hope they add a little charm to her personality, right now she only seems stressed out and over whelmed, would like to see some nathan drake-esque jabs of humor at situations.  Could be dangerously close to being too distressing all the time.

kkushalbeatzz
kkushalbeatzz

I think the old Tomb Raider games were in fact lighter on story and more heavy on gameplay. But then again, it has been a while since I've played one.

evil_m3nace
evil_m3nace

maybe when she gets her brace of pistols...

espviper301
espviper301

Gut-toting?...was that supposed to be "gun-toting"?  Spellcheck fail.

vault-boy
vault-boy

I hope she never becomes like the original Lara Croft because that Lara Croft is literally the most evil video game character in the world. 

GreySeven
GreySeven

She becomes legit when she kills her first t-rex with a pair of pistols. 

dbzpranav
dbzpranav

Brilliant article, I think that "suit up" moment would define why the Lara that couldn't kill a deer now kills people without hesitation, Like you said a point of no return. It'll be interesting to see if and when that happens

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

I prefer thinking of this as a reboot and not a prequel. This seems to have a good story (older Tomb Raiders kinda didn't) and it doesn't suit the style of chronologically future Tomb Raiders.

CTU_007
CTU_007

 @SDTalyor If you want to get technical than the real Lara Croft was the one from Core Design's games, not the Legend Trilogy.

CTU_007
CTU_007

 @vsnake48 Rape controversy aside, Lara's first human kill in the reboot is shaping up to be a MUCH better scene than the one from Tomb Raider Anniversary (which remains one of the most embarrassing moments in the entire franchise)

 

Maybe it has something to do with them hiring a professional writer for this time around? I have faith they know what they're doing.

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

 @Opstinger that would have been suitable considering Tomb Raiding is barely mentioned anywhere with the new game. now it's all about Lara's personal struggle and personality.

 

Ok if you like that, but I liked the old Tomb Raiders because of the Tooombs. Peru, Greece, Egypt, Thailand, Atlantis etc. all great places to explore. So far this new island has shown nothing interesting.

Opstinger
Opstinger

 @DarthLod I don't think all of this is due to political correctness. I think the folks leading the franchise realized that Tomb Raider wasn't going anywhere despite various follow-ups that tried to do things differently, ranging from killing Lara Croft in the 4th game, having flashbacks on her death on the 5th game, bringing her back to life in Lara Croft: The Angel of Darkness, then trying to resurrect the series on next gen, and then trying to incorporate elements of Uncharted with Tomb Raider: Underworld... I mean, where else can you go from there besides rebooting the entire franchise from the ground up?

underoath83
underoath83

 @Chaos_Dante_456  That's not true at all. I remember when the first one came out, I was more excited to play a fully 3D exploration game that had puzzles and action mixed. The theme is what sold me as well. The fact that the character was a hot chick was just a bonus. The controls, while frustrating at times, were not that difficult to get used to.

FedCom
FedCom

 @Chaos_Dante_456 I don't know, sort of worked for Metriod, but of course we judged that for being a good game originally.

CTU_007
CTU_007

 @Mister_Zurkon How is Camilla getting naked any different to the times Angelina Jolie, Keeley Hawes, Rhona Mitra, Minnie Driver and Nell McAndrew done it?

jwhdavison
jwhdavison staff

 @kkushalbeatzz the background stories were actually quite complex in the earlier games, there just wasn't a huge amount of exposition as a proportion of the overall experience. There was less chat, and more gameplay

KFHEWUI
KFHEWUI

 @MooncalfReviews   Actually the original games did have a good story with continuity something the clowns at Crystal Dynamics have destroyed.

 

Tomb Raider (1996) states that Lara become an explorer after an incident when she was 21, and her plan crashed in the Himalayas. Tomb Raider (2013) takes place on a ship wrecked island when she is 21. This means that either the original game or this reboot cannot be cannon if that is so that will also eliminate several other games from the series as cannon.

evil_m3nace
evil_m3nace

 @MooncalfReviews what...the older tombe raider gme did have good storys... 

1st. Tomb raider(WIKIPEDIA):

The story opens with a prologue in Los Alamos County, New Mexico. A great explosion causes an earthquake and exposes an ancient device buried beneath the desert surface. The device unlocks and reveals a person in suspended animation. The story then continues in the present day.

 

At a hotel in present day Calcutta, Lara Croft is contacted by an American named Larson, who works for the wealthy businesswoman Jacqueline Natla, owner of Natla Technologies. At Natla's request, Lara sets out on an expedition to recover a mysterious artefact called the Scion (pronounced /ˈskiː.ɑn/) from the lost tomb of Qualopec, in the mountains of Peru. However after successfully retrieving the object, she is attacked by Larson who attempts to claim it. She beats him, however, and questions him, learning that the artefact she has is only a fragment, and that a man named Pierre Dupont has been hired by Natla to collect the rest.

Lara breaks into Natla Technologies to find out where Natla has sent Pierre. She discovers amedieval monk's journal, which reveals the depths of an ancient monastery of St. Francis in Greece to house the tomb of Tihocan, a ruler of Atlantis, along with a second piece of the Scion. Travelling to the monastery, Lara descends through an expansive underground complex, pursued and attacked throughout by Pierre Dupont. At the tomb of Tihocan, Lara recovers the second piece of the Scion and finally kills Pierre. An inscription inside the tomb states that Tihocan was "one of the two just rulers" of Atlantis.

When Lara joins the two pieces of the Scion, she receives a vision of the three Atlantean rulers and their respective pieces of the Scion. One of them utilizes it to create a mutant breed, but the other two confront her, and take her piece of the Scion. Then Atlantis is struck by a fireball from the skies, and the three pieces of the Scion become scattered as the civilization is destroyed. One of them goes to Egypt, Lara's next destination.

Lara travels to the City of Khamoon, a temple complex in Egypt that houses the final fragment. Here she battles the fierce mutants seen in her vision, and is once again confronted by Larson, this time in a battle to the death. She then takes the final piece of the Scion from the underground sanctuary. Upon leaving the tomb, however, she is ambushed by Natla and her henchmen, who steal the three artefacts and nearly kill her.

Having escaped, Lara sneaks onto their boat, which takes her to a remote island where mining operations of Natla Technologies have partially exposed the Great Pyramid of Atlantis. After making her way through the mines dispatching Natla's goons, and the mutant-infested interior of Atlantis, Lara reaches the heart of the pyramid chamber, where the complete Scion has been fused together as a source of power. Touching it, Lara receives another vision, where Natla is revealed as the previously seen third ruler of Atlantis. She betrays her co-rulers by abusing the power of the Scion for genetic experimentation, and as punishment is locked in a stasis cell by Qualopec and Tihocan, her resting place until the prologue of the game.

Natla enters the chamber and confronts Lara; having reclaimed the artefacts, she attempts to restore her former power with an army of mutants. Lara throws her into a chasm, however, apparently killing her, and confronts her newest breed, a huge, legless mutant. She then destroys the Scion, starting a chain reaction of collapse in the pyramid. As she makes her way out she meets Natla a final time, now mutated and winged. After beating her, Lara flees the island as it is destroyed in a great explosion along with the mutants, and the remains of the Atlantean civilization.

 

RaiceGeriko
RaiceGeriko

 @Danny_1993 I did - it didn't separate them for some reason.  I hate it just as much as you do - but I don't think anyone cares anyway.

jwhdavison
jwhdavison staff

 @CTU_007 they've definitely changed their attitude over the years. Nell McAndrew was fired for appearing in Playboy and baring Lara's boobs

CTU_007
CTU_007

Lets not forget Lara's backstory was retconned with the Last Revelation. Originally she became an explorer after surviving a plane crash at 21. All of a sudden she's now exploring tombs with her mentor when she's 16. Then we have Chronicles set shortly after where she's visiting mysterious haunted islands.

 

And are we forgetting Legend where Lara's backstory was completely rewritten much to the distain of fans? Lara is now surviving a plane crash at 9 years old. Her mother gets sucked through a Stargate to zombieland. There's no more Von Croy because Lara's father is an archaeologist and her entire existance revolves around him. Father did this. Father did that. If Father says so and so then who am I to argue? I only raid tombs now because of mommy and daddy. This is always what its been about. Oh Father!

 

This reboot is very much needed just to clear the mess of that storyline alone. In this game Lara survives a crash at 21 on a mysterious island with her mentor. Its essentially a tidied up version of her first backstory. You know back when she was a strong independant woman and not a whiny Daddy's Little Girl?

CTU_007
CTU_007

 @SDTalyor This Lara didn't murder a man to prove a point then spend the remainder of the game having some bizare fit where she's traumatized by the invisible blood on her hands, nor is she constantly crying for her parents in every second line of dialogue.

 

Sorry but this Lara is a hell of an improvement over the one from the Legend/Anniversary/Underworld trilogy.

SDTalyor
SDTalyor

Wow, thats a stretch. I guess if you are calling Lara whiney in past stories, then she must be an unconsolable toddler in total meltdown in this reboot.

KFHEWUI
KFHEWUI

The storyline did not become a mess until Crystal Dynamics was given Tomb Raider.

 

The expedition when Lara was a teenager with Von Croy does fit. Lara's father saw the expedition as a learning experience and allowed Lara to go. Later when Lara's plane crashed, she could have used the skills she learned from the expedition to survive the Himalayas. Then again that part of her story has never been explained which would be a perfect place to expand Lara's origins, but CD had to screw it up.

 

As for Chronicles story with Lara as a young girl, her age is never revealed so that haunted island could have easily taken place after the plane crash.

 

Legend's story was awful, and Underworld's story was even worse including the game.