Written by Tadashi

Modified & Updated: 17 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Pirates Of The Caribbean Jack Sparrow

Pirates of the Caribbean stands as one of the most successful film franchises of the 21st century. Inspired by the Disney theme park ride of the same name, it’s also the 14th-highest-grossing film series of all time. Currently, the franchise has a total of five films, with a sixth film currently in the works. Haven’t seen the franchise or want to start from the beginning? Here is a list of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies in order.

Pirates of the Caribbean Movies to Watch in Order

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Released in 2003, The Curse of the Black Pearl is the first movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC) franchise.

Set in 1728, the movie follows blacksmith Will Turner and the pirate Jack Sparrow as they chase after the abducted Elizabeth Swann. Aboard the pirate ship Black Pearl, Elizabeth uncovers the truth behind her abduction, as well as the curse of the ship and its crew. Matters get more complicated when the Royal Navy gets involved, led by Commodore James Norrington and Elizabeth’s father, Governor Weatherby Swann.

Starring Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley, The Curse of the Black Pearl is the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2003. It’s also the first-ever Disney film to have a PG-13 rating by the MPAA. Critics were pleasantly surprised by the film, having predicted a box office bomb over how past pirate-themed films had always flopped. Johnny Depp’s performance was particularly praised, him winning a Screen Actors Guild Award, and receiving other nominations. The Curse of the Black Pearl earned an estimated $654 million worldwide, guaranteeing two sequels in the following years.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Released in 2006, the franchise’s second film takes place soon after the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl. It introduces two new antagonists, first the East India Trading Company led by Lord Cutler Beckett, who arrests Will and Elizabeth on piracy charges, and Davy Jones, Captain of the Flying Dutchman, and his crew. Jack Sparrow has to face them, over debts owed. This leads them all to pursue the titular Dead Man’s Chest, in the hopes of using it for their own ends.

Similar to its predecessor, Dead Man’s Chest was the highest-grossing film of its year, earning over $1 billion at the box office. It was also Disney’s highest-grossing film until 2010, when it lost to Toy Story 3.

That said, Dead Man’s Chest received a mixed reception from critics. On one hand, they praised its action sequences, direction, humor, and special effects. Hans Zimmer’s musical score was also lauded, as were Johnny Depp and Bill Nighy’s performances. Criticisms involved the plot being somewhat underwhelming and the film being too long.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Released in 2007, At World’s End marked the third, and originally, the final film of the franchise.

Lord Beckett launches a brutal anti-piracy campaign around the world, together with Davy Jones and the Flying Dutchman. This forces Captain Barbarossa, Will, and Elizabeth to rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ locker. The world’s greatest pirates band together for survival. At the same time, supernatural forces move towards a reckoning for past betrayals.

Released in 2007, At World’s End was the highest-grossing-film of 2007, earning an estimated $690 million. Critics, however, were less enthusiastic about it. The film was praised for its action sequences, the actors’ performances, the film direction, humor, musical score, and special effects. But it was also criticized for its contrived plot and needlessly long running time. Film critic Peter Travers, in particular, described the film as “too much of a good thing”.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Released in 2011, On Stranger Tides is the fourth film in the franchise and a standalone sequel to the original trilogy. In particular, only Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbarossa return in the film. On Stranger Tides introduces two new antagonists, Blackbeard and his daughter, Angelica. The two of them blackmail Jack into helping them find the fabled Fountain of Youth.

Meanwhile, both the British and Spanish Empires dispatch their expeditions to find the enigmatic fountain. Barbarossa has since become a privateer with sanction from King George of II and leads the Royal Navy’s forces. Similarly, King Ferdinand VI dispatches the Spanish Armada, led by a mysterious officer known only as The Spaniard.

On Stranger Tides struggled at the box office, only becoming the third-highest-grossing film of 2011. It was given mixed reviews, with critics praising its action sequences, performances, and visual effects. The Spaniard, as well as the treatment of the Spanish in the film, particularly received praise for avoiding Hispanic cliches and stereotypes. But on the other hand, critics found the film’s screenplay underwhelming and its plot unoriginal.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The fifth and currently the last film in the franchise, Dead Men Tell No Tales takes place 13 years after the events of At World’s End. It introduces Will and Elizabeth’s son Henry Turner, as well as a new antagonist, Captain Armando Salazar. Killed in a battle with Jack Sparrow in the latter’s youth, Salazar’s hate allowed him and his crew to remain as vengeful ghosts. After Jack accidentally allows them to track him down, he teams up with Henry and an astronomer, Carina Smyth. Together, they set out to find the mythical Trident of Poseidon, while Salazar forces Captain Barbarossa to help him against Jack.

The film was poorly received by critics, with Peter Travers describing it as boring and repetitive. Other critics described the plot as overcomplicated with too many characters. Some praised the film as a comedic standalone, with Johnny Depp’s performance remaining the film’s highlight. Ultimately, despite the critics’ largely-negative responses, the film achieved financial success by earning an estimated $795 million worldwide.

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