Salvaging Patriarchy in the 2018 Film Adaptation of Tomb Raider
This article focuses on the recent film adaptation of the 2013 Tomb Raider video game. Its main goal is to show that, despite the significant changes that the plot undergoes when transitioning from video game to feature film, the adaptation remains faithful to the conservative gender politics of its ludic source text, in the sense that in both the game and the film Lara must struggle to maintain patriarchal order. While in the game the female protagonist has to fulfil her late father’s unfinished archaeological (in fact colonial) project and redeem his name, in the film she has to compensate for her father’s masculinity crisis. The resolution of the plot coincides with a resolution of the crisis of masculinity, which reinstates the gender power relations privileging masculinity. Furthermore, this article shows that Lara’s struggle to re-establish patriarchy in the film’s storyworld coerces her to adopt a colonial attitude with respect to otherness. By performing phallic masculinity, Lara Croft acts as an agent of colonialism whose intervention in foreign territories and cultures is rendered by the film providential for the emancipation of the native populations.