Youth Obsession and the Missed Opportunity of Older Women Representation in Tomb Raider

With a new movie and a third installment on the way, I figured this was a good time to give credit to and vent some frustrations at the new and improved Tomb Raider series.

I love the 2013 Tomb Raider game. For all its many faults and and at least one major problematic moment, it made me fall in love with so much that it did. From the weird religious cult made up entirely of people who crash and become stranded on the island, to the depiction of the new Lara Croft. The connections and references to Japan’s past. It had me deeply invested from start to finish. It even has a half-decent multiplayer

I can’t help looking at this trilogy now though and seeing at best a missed opportunity, and at worst the continuation of a harmful cultural norm that makes youth the only thing that really matters, especially for women.

I don’t think pointing out American society’s obsession with youth is controversial.Pointing out how harmful it is to everyone is probably not either. But I don’t think many people understand how much it negatively effects women more than any other group in society.

People feeling like they have to get everything they’re ever gonna do in life accomplished before the age of 30 isn’t uncommon at all. 30 feels like an expiration date. And women are effected the most because of this horrible cultural norm, throughout their lives not just when they turn 30+. I’m not a woman though,and maybe shouldn’t be trying to talk in-depth about this topic. So here’s some relevant resources by women.

What does a better Tomb Raider look like though? I don’t think it’s one where strong young women with agency aren’t represented. And there’s no reason why two badass women that represent both younger and older women can’t exist in this franchise. In fact, I see a major missed opportunity to do just that.

What if Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider was less of a reboot and more of a continuation. What if there were two playable Lara Crofts instead of one?

What if the original Lara Croft at some point had a baby, a daughter. And seeing as being a treasure hunting killer isn’t exactly a career conducive to being the best parent, chose to keep being Lara Croft even if that meant her daughter growing up at least mostly without a mother. Not sure what the narrative explanation for her being named Lara Croft Jr would be, but if men can do it, why can’t women? Maybe LC Jr grows up wanting to emulate her mother instead of her father, against his wishes even. Maybe her father dies in England, and as a result her self-estranged mom tells her to pack her bags and come live in her mansion (that’s a thing right? I’m not just writing the outline of some weird fanfic right now right? OG Lara had a mansion didn’t she?).

And maybe in this version of Tomb Raider, themes and ideas presented in Crystal Dynamics’ reboot are actually explored. Like what it takes to take another persons life. In the 2013 Tomb Raider, near the beginning of the game there’s dialogue between Lara and another character, she talks about how scarily easy killing people is…what if it’s not? What if killing people isn’t something Lara Croft Jr. can just do? What if that’s a major aspect of the game? OG Lara being able to effectively commit mass murder at the drop of hat like the protagonists of so many games. But her daughter just can’t, like most people just can’t.

And maybe that one really problematic thing towards the beginning of Tomb Raider 2013 gets brought up in this Tomb Raider too, but instead is actually addressed on some level instead of just being a a throwaway moment meant to shock and horrify.

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