When players think of treasure hunters, Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider franchise may immediately come to mind. After all, it’s Lara and her crazy adventures in Tomb Raider that prove human curiosity has no bounds, and her journey to collect mysterious relics had her end up not just discovering ruins and ancient civilizations, but even transcending console generations.
With Lara Croft’s adventures taking the form of not just two separate video game series but also numerous films and comics, there’s got to be the best version of the protagonist of this high-octane treasure-hunting series.
9 Tomb Raider Reloaded
Although the newest in the Tomb Raider games, Tomb Raider Reloaded from Emerald City didn’t push through with the edgier Lara from the second reboot and instead opted for the classical, more “adventurous” depiction of Lara Croft from the earlier games. This is apt, considering the 3D top-down room shooter approach of the game.
Unlike other games in the series, Reloaded doesn’t have that much of a serious story. Instead, it seeks to unite various versions of Lara Croft as playable characters. Its owner Lara Croft serves as the centerpiece of the game, boasting her twin guns and a sense of adventure as she doesn’t seem to tire of running around and eliminating her enemies. The lack of a precise “personality” however makes her pale in comparison to the other depictions.
8 Tomb Raider Animated Series
When Tomb Raider: Anniversary‘s release in 2007 marked the second game in the “Legend Trilogy” reboot of Crystal Dynamics, there also came the Tomb Raider Animated Series. In this 10-episode series, Lara Croft once again is the Tomb Raider, this time with completely new adventures that try to further develop her character outside the games. Unique to the series itself is how a lot of the episodes have unique animation styles, depicting Lara’s adventures in different ways.
The animated series tries to flesh out Lara’s character throughout her youth. It’s shown here that Lara already had a knack for “borrowing” artifacts even at school and throughout her early adulthood. This particular version of Lara has a sense of responsibility, especially to the artifacts introduced around her. She would go out of her way to retrieve artifacts she thinks need to be safeguarded, or even destroy those she thinks could be a threat to mankind.
7 Tomb Raider: Journeys
The Tomb Raider: Journeys comics is actually a mini-series that takes its version of Lara Croft across multiple adventures with no sequential order and no greater narrative. In this alternate universe, Lara Croft made a promise to her mentor not to kill anyone – something that sets this Lara apart from others. Interestingly enough, this Lara immediately starts the story as a seasoned adventurer and treasure hunter, sometimes lavish enough to have vacations all by herself in between her adventures.
While just as adept and skilled as her other counterparts, this particular Lara Croft is more of a spot-on adventure flick protagonist than a fully-fleshed character. If anything, Lara is the wheel with which the adventures move around, with her supporting cast and antagonist being appropriately more developed compared to her. Despite her “lack” of hard development, this particular Lara is still 100-percent badass.
6 Tomb Raider (2018)
Alicia Vikander’s portrayal of Lara Croft in the 2018 Tomb Raider film helped the movie gain the reputation of being one of the more “accurate” adaptations of a video game to ever make it to the big screen. Serving mainly as an adaptation to the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, the 2018 Lara Croft is already an adventurer by heart and adopts her father’s love for adventuring after discovering a secret room in his tomb.
Completely inexperienced like her gaming counterpart, the 2018 Lara Croft is by no means a pushover. Her keen interest in athletic and sporting activities gave her an immediate edge when she started searching for Himiko in the film. Throughout the story, Lara Croft has been able to use her martial arts training, archery proficiency, and acrobatic prowess to outpace cars in traffic via her bicycle, scale walls, and survive dangerous environments thanks to her wit. She isn’t perfect either – the film completely demonstrates Lara’s capability of making mistakes and rising to the challenge, committing mistakes in combat and other situations that punish her but at the same time push her to go past her limits.
5 Tomb Raider: The Series
If there’s anything considered the “most expansive” depiction of Lara Croft outside the games, it could be Tomb Raider: The Seriesa series of various comics by Top Cow Production based on the first Tomb Raider run. Similar to other non-game titles, Lara Croft of The Series takes herself on various adventures, encountering individuals in her journey to search, secure, and safeguard several artifacts.
While Lara Croft keeps her general skill set here, what makes this version of Lara Croft more iconic compared to the rest were the changes and surprises that occurred throughout the rest of the series. It’s in these comics that Lara Croft started with her parents dying and Lara having taken their love for adventure. She also uniquely possesses water from the Fountain of Youth, allowing her to have a prolonged life to continue her adventures. Most interestingly enough, Lara Croft in Top Cow Productions first appeared in a crossover with the Witchblade series, with Lara teaming up with NYPD Detective Sara Pezinni to combat supernatural threats.
4 Tomb Raider (2001)
When one thinks of Lara Croft, older movie fans would probably remember Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of the character. Following the plot of the first reboot with some changes, Lara became the heir-countess of the Abbington Estate after her mother’s death and her father’s presumed death due to his disappearance.
Her admiration of her father led Lara to archeology and physical activity, and a chance discovery of an antique clock in a secret room at their home plunged Lara into a life of adventure. Such was Lara’s skill in exploration and adventure that she’s become the go-to person of other agencies to investigate ancient relics and civilizations – like when the MI6 tasked Lara Croft to secure Pandora’s Box, or when Lara discovers the Triangle of Light, both of which are artifacts that could bring destruction to the world.
3 Tomb Raider (Original Series)
Perhaps the most iconic version of Lara Croft to exist, Lara from the original Tomb Raider series of games probably changed gaming as fans knew it – both in terms of gameplay and its sense of style. Through her youth, Lara already had a knack for adventure and archeology. Since her plane crash, Lara used the next decade to focus on digesting as much knowledge as she could about ancient civilizations – to the point where she had to write to fund her journeys as her family practically disowned her.
She’s since then left her life of the aristocracy and instead pursued a life of adventure – discovering things such as the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, the Atlantean Scion, and various other wonders. While she’s essentially becoming an icon in gaming for being one of the few female protagonists to stand on their own feet, she’s becoming infamous for her rather voluptuous portrayal, with reboots working constantly to change this iconography.
2 Tomb Raider (Second Reboot)
One of the most surprising twists Crystal Dynamics did in the past few years was rebooting Tomb Raider a second time. Its first game, Tomb Raider, released in 2013, finds rookie explorer Lara Croft in a fight for her life as the ship Endurance crashes onto an uninhabited island near Japan. Unfortunately for rookie Lara, she has nothing but her grit and instincts as she braces the island alone as it’s filled with its share of dead bodies, ancient relics and rituals, and opposing forces that want nothing but her death.
It’s perhaps this iteration of Lara Croft that is also the most developed, and one where players accompany her in her journey to maturity as an adventurer. Throughout the games, players see Lara make mistakes and try to rectify them as best they could. As such, this slate of Tomb Raider games shows Lara on her path to growth, something that is unique compared to other games in the franchise.
1 Tomb Raider (First Reboot)
When Crystal Dynamics rebooted the first series of Tomb Raider games, they did so with a completely new depiction of Lara Croft. In this first reboot, Lara Croft still dons her twin guns with the same unrelenting fuel of coolness. However, this time Lara isn’t just motivated by the adventure alone – she wants to find out what happened to her mother after they crash land over the Himalayas. Struck with a deep sense of guilt, Lara Croft has developed a knack for adventuring thanks to both her father and personal interest.
After her father went missing, Lara Croft became the 11th Countess of Abbingdon, inheriting her family’s fortune which she uses to fund her adventures. A lot of her journeys weren’t just motivated by adventure but also a sense of responsibility. She’s saved the world countless times in her journeys, finding and securing artifacts such as the Atlantean Scion and Excalibur, as well as discovering various ancient civilizations.
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