Aye! Avast! Let me tell ya bloomin' cockroaches a story. 11 years ago today, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment of the film franchise, was released on May 20, 2011. But before that fateful day, like with most movies, there were a series of trailers, TV spots, and even behind the scenes footage. Of course, even before that, there is the script that started it all. Among the iconic scenes featured, there is a scene during the Battle at Whitecap Bay where Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) comes face-to-face with one of the mermaids (Jorgelina Guadalupe Airaldi). Called "Marina" by the captain himself, the beautiful-but-deadly mermaid proceeds to give Jack a great big slap in the face. Indeed, one scene that was in a lot of Pirates fans' mind at the time, but who actually covered it? Well, as Captain Jack himself once said, "Me dear beloved crew, finally, today is..."
First, let's look at how the infamous scene is played out on paper. Here is how the scene plays out in a late production draft of On Stranger Tides presented by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio for both educational purposes, and to allow interested fans to track the progression from script to screen...
EXT. LIGHTHOUSE - NIGHT
Jack flies through the window, somersaults down into the water below --
The Lighthouse EXPLODES, a spectacular CONCUSSION, lighting up the night --
Philip turns away from the blast -- but a mermaid attacks him, 118 118 pulls his legs out from under him; he lands HARD onto the rocks as he is pulled under, debris flies everywhere --
UNDERWATER, Mermaids cower; frightened, blinded, they flee the rocks, dart away from the shallows --
Jack breaks the surface of the water, turning in place, watching the Mermaids flee. As his head comes around, suddenly there is a Mermaid RIGHT THERE, staring.
Jack attempts a smile -- the Mermaid winds up --
--and SLAPS Jack, hard, his head spinning, water flying off his dreads. The Mermaid takes off with the others--
ELSEWHERE, Angelica pulls Blackbeard to his feet. Suddenly, a commotion on shore:
We got one!
The net is pulled up, but it's a false alarm: the person caught is Scrum, sputtering out sea water.
I'm in love!
So, as you can see, the screenplay had the scenery but the name "Marina" was nowhere to be found. That's very interesting, isn't it? It appears to be very possible, if not likely, that the name came from Johnny Depp, who was known to improvise on set and add lines, most notably the "I've got a jar of dirt!" scene in Dead Man's Chest. Now, as far as released footage or promotional material...
- Pirates fans first saw the mermaid slap near the end of the second trailer of On Stranger Tides, which was uploaded on March 17 via the official DisneyPirates channel on YouTube. Here, we only see Jack slapped by the mermaid for like a second at most.
- Around this time, as with all film advertisements, promotional photos were released. Such images from photographer Peter Mountain included one character shot of Jorgelina Guadalupe Airaldi, which had the name "Marina" in the photo's description.
- On May 3, 2011, The Art of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was released, which features the aforementioned promotional image. However, while the photo and actress's name are within the book, Jorgelina Airaldi was not credited as "Marina" only credited as a "beautiful-but-deadly mermaid" in the photo's description.
- If fans tuned in the USA Network's "Special Look" that aired in May, they would once again see Jack getting slapped by the mermaid. Although here, it's probably the most of the scene you would see on TV screens, given this is the only currently-known footage where Jack called Marina by name. "Marina. Please, don't—"
- On May 5, MakingOf on YouTube uploaded "On-Set Footage" which feature Marina slapping Jack. But unlike the previously mentioned, where trailers and featurettes tend to show the slap only, the scene actually ends with Marina splashing Jack after the slap as she takes off with the other mermaids. Though it appears to not be final cut footage, as there is still CGI needed to be added with some blue screen and of course Marina's tail, as you can see Jorgelina's legs splashing around.
- On May 16, a very similar-if-not-exact featurette like the USA Network footage was uploaded on the DisneyPirates YouTube channel. Unfortunately, while the mermaid slap scene was shown again like in the USA Network, it did not feature Jack's dialogue revealing the mermaid's name.
Aaaand that's all folks! As far as I'm aware there are no additional footage or photos depicting the scene in question. To this day, Pirates fans have wondered why the scene was cut, or worse why Disney never had the scene in their home video releases or even Disney+ streaming service. A mystery that may be unsolved for years to come, but one can only hope someone would come to their senses and release the damn (language!) fan-favorite scene. Not to mention current drama surrounding Johnny Depp and the current status of the Pirates franchise, but that's a story for another day.
So tell me, do you like the Mermaid Slap scene? Do you not like it? Or by some miracle, is this your first exposure to it? Feel free to come on down and comment below! And please, as always...Keep to the Code!