The inactive National Treasure franchise is officially brought back by Disney+, however, a reboot with the absence of Nicolas Cage is a mistake that the studio cannot make. The green light has been given to a series of 10 episodes featuring the historical treasure hunting franchise that became famous in the mid-2000s thanks to Cage and a great ensemble cast. This reboot is not going to focus on the franchise’s biggest star but will instead give the spotlight to a younger and more diverse cast than its prequels. Lisette Alexis will play Jess Morales, the new protagonist of this series, a 20-year-old dreamer whose intention is to crack her mysterious family history to pursue the lost treasure. In a figurative passing of the torch, Alexis will take the role of Cage, who played historian, treasure hunter and cryptologist Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure and its sequel, Book of Secrets.
The original National Treasure, released in 2004 by Walt Disney, was a campy action-adventure movie. The franchise stars Harvey Keitel, Sean Bean, Jon Voight, Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, and Christopher Plummer. However, the storyline focuses on Gates, who hails from numerous treasure hunters. He assembles clues along with his amusing sidekick Riley (Justin Bartha), searching for lost treasure and historic artifacts that were hidden away by American Freemasons in the American Revolutionary War. Digging deeper into the entertaining side rather than sticking to the history, the National Treasure franchise received mixed reviews but was a commercial hit, earning $347 million all over the world. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, even divided critics further, but at the same time it also went beyond expectations and grossed a massive $455 million at the ticket booth in 2007.
Disney+ probably cannot pull off the TV reboot of National Treasure if Nicolas Cage is absent. The idea of bringing the famous franchise to a new, younger generation is reasonable, however, it requires the presence of Cage to bring the series success, as he is probably the most renowned and crucial factor of the original movies. Just like an Indiana Jones reboot without Harrison Ford, a National Treasure remake that doesn’t have Cage playing Ben Gates would always be under the iconic actor’s shadow. It was lucky for Indiana Jones’ fans that Ford is returning to his role in the upcoming 2023 movie. Disney should consider the same thing for their National Treasure TV series.
In this era of requels, it is not a wise move to exclude the original star and hope the series will work only based on the name brand. Cage, winning an Academy Award for playing Ben Sanderson in Leaving Las Vegas (1995) and famous for being in several summer hits, brings a fascinating intensity to all of his characters. This has made him nearly always entertaining no matter how goofy or strange the role is. Cage can move between genres, styles and accents, making him more of a performer with his own signature gusto rather than just an actor.
The creators of the National Treasure franchise clearly want to focus on their target audience‘s desire. The series is joined by the original producer jerry Bruckheimer, director Jon Turtletaub and writers Cormac and Marianne Wibberley. Therefore, it is likely that the storytelling will be continued in this new sequel, in which Jess looks to crack her family’s past story and save a lost Pan-American treasure. From that storyline, Cage’s character, Ben Gates, is potentially a mentor for the promising treasure hunter. If Cage and his attractive screen presence is not there, it is possible that even the most amazing implausible stories will become less interesting.
Though it isn’t certain about the appearance of Cage in Disney+’s National Treasure reboot, set to begin filming in 2022, Cage’s and franchise’s fans can expect an upshot. The third installment of National Treasure has long been anticipated and discussed since 2008, and it got stuck in several developmental obstacles until confirmed its ongoing status in 2020 by Bruckheimer. This confirmation came alongside with an announcement of the TV reboot on Disney+. As the TV series is now in further development, it is hopeful that the success of this Disney+ spinoff will raise audience’s interest in Cage’s return for the National Treasure sequel – one that could even include the cooperation of Lisette Alexis and Cage on his greatest adventure yet.