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Taika Waititi’s Swashbuckling New Pirate Series Coming to HBO Max

Though his true motivation is lost to history, Stede Bonnet left his life as a father, husband, and wealthy Barbadian sugar plantation owner to become a dashing Caribbean pirate in 1717. Now this legendary tale is getting a proper TV adaptation, thanks to Taika Waititi.

“We’re swashbuckling. Let’s have fun with it,” Rhys Darby announces to his crew as the fictional Bonnet in a new series trailer.

Coming in March to HBO Max, Our Flag Means Death appears to be another wonderful, ludicrous romp from the same man who brought us What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, and Jojo Rabbit. With Waititi on board as executive producer, the adventures of the aristocratic plunderer were created and showrun by David Jenkins. If the teaser is any indication, Darby’s turn as the wealthy, cosplaying buccaneer looks to be a wild and wonderful journey on the high seas.

“This is it! Places everyone. Look scary!” Darby-as-Bonnet announces as the crew prepares to attack.

The legend of Bonnet’s adventures still illuminate the annals of pirate history today. And why not? Perhaps he’d gone bankrupt or perhaps he was just bored with the bourgeoisie, but the story of the “Gentleman Pirate” is truly a movie-worthy (or, in this case, series-worthy) tale.

“A series concept like this jumps off the page and you can instantly envision every moment,” Sarah Aubrey, head of original content for HBO Max, said when the show was first announced.

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Our Flag Means Death appears to be in good hands as Waititi not only appears as Blackbeard but also directs the first episode. How the show will approach narrative development isn’t a hundred percent clear, but if any of Waititi’s previous ventures are any indication, character development and interaction, as opposed to story events, represent the primary on-screen vessel. Just like his previous projects, Waititi seems comfortable letting his well-meaning yet bumbling protagonist carry along a universal theme. In this case, it’s answering the temptation to blow up everyday monotony with a spontaneous life decision. This choice, of course, almost always goes awry.

Rhys Darby as "Gentleman Pirate" Stede Bonnet in Our Flag Means Death.
YouTube/HBO Max

“You’re an idiot,” Leslie Jones says after removing a knife from Bonnet’s nose in the trailer.

It’s the true believers, though, that stick to their plan even in the face of failure. History deemed Bonnet to be inept at the beginning, but he managed to gain a toehold after being first befriended, then betrayed by Blackbeard.

In the show, the notorious pirate, whose real name was Edward Teach, is attracted to this man in white — his almost diametric opposite. It will be fascinating to see how this relationship develops over the course of Our Flag Means Death.

The show is slated to set sail on HBO Max in March. Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with watching Bonnet philosophize about the corsair’s life in ruffled wrists and silk coats.

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