With the Pirates of the Caribbean movies more accessible than ever, and a summer season void of blockbusters, this month we’re diving deep into Disney’s swashbuckling series. Grab your cutlass and hoist the colors: here be Polygon’s take on all things PotC.
When I was but a wee 13-going-on-14-year-old, my biggest crush was Davy Jones. Not the nautical superstition, but the tentacle-faced captain of the Flying Dutchman played by Bill Nighy (with the aid of a lot of CGI work) in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. From the moment I saw his piercing blue eyes in the first trailer for Dead Man’s Chest and heard his nasally Scottish accent, I had found the pirate for me.
As related in my conversation with my Polygon peers about our respective opinions about the most smoochable Pirates characters, my obsession with Jones — in itself the subject of a chicken-or-egg debate over whether my Nighy crush came first or if Jones was the reason for it — grew to such a fever pitch that my friends’ birthday gift to me was a poster of pictures of Bill Nighy and a Davy Jones head-topped pen. (At my obsession’s peak, I forced all my friends to watch The Girl in the Café at a sleepover, which they resigned themselves to.)
But why was a man with an octopus for a face so appealing? The reasons, as it happens, are many. Here is my Davy Jones manifesto, courtesy of my 13-year-old self:
1. He’s an emo rocker. For the same reasons I love bands like Panic! At the Disco, Fall Out Boy, and Jimmy Eat World, I love Davy Jones. The fact that he plays an instrument — the organ, no less — is already a huge plus, but he’s also using music as a way of expressing all of his heartbreak and angst. His songs are just a big riff on the tune played by the matching pair of lockets he shares with his lost love, which is, if you ask me, very romantic! He also isn’t afraid to play loudly enough for all of his crew members to hear it. There’s no shame in being emotionally vulnerable!
2. He’s funny. Despite being possibly the most feared pirate out there, he’s not afraid to crack a few jokes every now and then. Granted, they’re at the expense of others (see: when he tells Will to feel free to go ashore whenever they make port … which is only once every 10 years. It’s funnier if you don’t care about Will too much — i.e., if you’re me and only have eyes for sweet Davy).
3. He’s hot. To be clear, I am into marine life, but not in a romantic way. I have no real desire to kiss an octopus. But Davy Jones has undeniable presence — the way he stomps into any given scene is enough to send chills down anyone’s spine. He knows the value of a dramatic entrance! He also carries that nose for the dramatic (unfortunately no literal nose) into all of his interactions, occasionally adding extra syllables to words just for the sake of flourish. It all adds up to making that tentacle-y visage more appealing. He has a normal human mouth, at least; it’s just that his whole face is a little moist. And his eyes! My God. They’re CGI, which is the only way to account for their superhuman ability to stare straight into the human soul. But if the fact that he’s all octopus-y is an insurmountable dealbreaker, we do handily get a brief look at his human face, which is perfectly normal and extremely handsome.
4. He’s not really evil. He’s bitter, sure, but the whole reason he ends up pursuing Jack and company to begin with is because Jack breaks the terms of their agreement — that Davy would bring the Black Pearl back in exchange for Jack serving 100 years on the Dutchman. This all could have been prevented if Jack Sparrow wasn’t selfish! And his becoming a pawn of the East India Trading Company isn’t his fault, either, as he’s basically helping them under pain of death. They even force him to kill the Kraken, which is particularly cruel.
5. He has an awesome pet. So, he only has it for one movie, but the Kraken rules, and even has its own theme music. I’m sure it’s nice under some circumstances. Let me go on a ride on the Kraken.
6. A new relationship would be good for him. The fact that he’s been hung up on Calypso for such a long time is romantic, especially since they’re both heartbroken over each other and it isn’t just one-way pining, but the sheer amount of angst he’s carrying around is exactly why he looks so much like an aquarium display. The state of the Dutchman’s captain directly affects the state of the ship and the crew (hence the ship losing its barnacles once Will takes over) and, frankly, a makeover would be good for everyone. I know that the whole reason he became cursed to begin with was because he betrayed his main squeeze, but the third movie sees them coming to terms with and moving on from what happened (yes, here, “moving on” means “Davy Jones dies”), so you already know that he’s capable of growth.
Though I don’t think about Davy Jones as much, now, he’s still always in my heart, and I’m still as ready to go to bat for him as I was in 2006. He’s a perfect pirate, and I will always love him.