The year is approximately 1740 AD; the place is the Caribbean Sea. Pirates roam the oceans freely, and their lives are just as exciting and filled with adventure as any story ever made them out to be. This is a world where magic is alive and well, a world where Davy Jones' Locker is more than just a saying, where curses are more than mere superstition.
Captain Jack Sparrow, as he insists on being called, has been raiding the seas since he first left home as a teenager. Born into a family of pirates, his greatest desire was to follow in his father's footsteps and become a pirate captain himself.
In his early life, Jack embarked on a series of misadventures, both as a pirate and as a member of more legitimate organizations, and met a number of interesting people, the most important, perhaps, of which was one Cutler Beckett, Director of West African Affairs for the East India Trading Company. When Beckett offered Jack the captaincy of a ship transporting slaves, Jack refused; Beckett instead gave him a different command, as captain of the EITC ship the
It wasn't long, however, before Jack managed to find himself in Beckett's bad graces; after Jack refused to share the location of a lost island full of treasure, Beckett again ordered him to transport slaves. Jack set off with the human cargo, but soon his conscience caught up with him and he freed the slaves. In retaliation, Beckett had Jack caught and thrown into prison, branding him with a P for Pirate and soon after burning the
Wicked Wench. Jack, en route to his own execution, was thrown from Beckett's ship into the sea, where, near death, he made a deal with Davy Jones, captain of the ship the Flying Dutchman and appointed ferrier of souls to the underworld. Jones would save both Jack and his ship; he would grant Jack thirteen years of captaincy, after which Jack would serve Jones aboard the Dutchman for a century. Jack agreed, and upon his return to the surface world, rechristened his ship the Black Pearl.
Being a pirate in this world is more than just raiding and pillaging. Since the Pirate's Code was set down approximately a century earlier, all pirates are bound to honor the code, or risk being blacklisted and forced to find more honest work. While choosing a pirate's life requires a desire to take charge of one's own destiny and a willingness to ignore rules, the pirate community, such as it is, does recognize that occasionally, banding together against a common enemy is necessary to ensure their way of life continues unimpeded. Thus, the first meeting of the Brethren Court, sometime in the 1650s, approximately at the same time as the development of the Pirates' Code. Nine pirate lords representing nine domains convened and agreed to trap the goddess Calypso, untamable ruler of the seas; she would remain trapped in a human body until - well, we'll get to that later.
In the meantime, Jack had been captain of the Black Pearl for two years, and, this dream realized, turned his attention to other pursuits. On a quest for the fabled Isla de Muerta and the cursed Aztec gold hidden there, Jack was betrayed by his first mate, Hector Barbossa. Barbossa took advantage of Sparrow's trust in his crew and convinced him to give up the location of the island. He then led a mutiny against Jack, leaving him abandoned on a deserted island and leading the rest of the crew to the island and the gold.
The gold, however, carried an ancient curse. For ten years, the crew was doomed to live as the walking dead; though they appeared human, the moonlight revealed their true form as walking skeletons, and they could neither be killed nor enjoy any food, drink or other earthly pleasures. Eventually, the pirates managed to regain the coins they had spent, placing them all back into the chest and ending the curse. Jack never forgave Barbossa for betraying him, and shot him just before the curse was lifted, killing him.
It wasn't long after this, and after Jack managed to regain captaincy of his ship, that an old debt came due. The thirteen years granted him by Davy Jones were up, and Jack knew he was coming for him. Knowing that Jones could set foot on land only once every ten years, Jack avoided the open seas and searched for the one thing that could give him leverage against Jones - Jones' heart, locked in a chest and well hidden. His plan ultimately failed, and Jones, furious with Jack for reneging on their agreement, sent his 'pet' the giant kraken after him. Jack perished, and both he and his ship were sent to Davy Jones' Locker.
Death isn't always permanent in this world of magic and legends come to life, however. The sea goddess Calypso, bound to human form by the nine Pirate Lords a century before, knew that the only way she would ever regain her old power was for all nine Lords to agree to release her. She was not without power, even now, and she had already brought Barbossa, one of the nine, back to life. Another of the Pirate Lords - and don't tell me you didn't see this coming - was Jack.
And so an expedition set out to go over the edge of the world, to Davy Jones' Locker, in order to retrieve Jack. Jack was naturally less than thrilled at seeing Barbossa, along with others who had at one time or another tried to kill him, but when Barbossa revealed that he had the maps that would lead them out of the Locker and back into the world, Jack agreed to sail with him.
Jack returned to discover that not all was well in the world. His old acquaintance Cutler Beckett, now a Lord and King George II's representative in the Caribbean, had taken it upon himself to wipe out the pirate threat by declaring a state of martial law and executing anyone remotely connected with piracy. Beckett's determination, however, had extended beyond merely utilizing British naval forces against pirates. He had possession of Davy Jones' heart and therefore control of Jones; Beckett had blackmailed him into helping to wipe out piracy for good, in the process eliminating the man who had once defied him, Jack Sparrow.
It takes a lot for pirates to trust each other, and even more to agree to work together. The steady stream of hangings in Port Royal, however, was enough to stir them to just that. For only the fourth time in history, the Pirate Lords agreed to convene and decide how to face the threat that is Beckett's alliance with Jones. The decision was made to free Calypso from her human form, returning her power over the seas, in the hopes that she would choose to assist the pirates and work against Beckett and Jones - a risky prospect, but the only hope they had.
Long story short - or at least, not quite as long - the plan worked, Beckett and Jones were defeated, and the pirates went their separate ways to continue pirating. Jack emerged from a bar in the pirates' town of Tortuga to find that Barbossa had, for the second time, gone off with his ship. His dismay did not last long, however. Unbeknownst to Barbossa, Jack had stolen the other captain's valued map - the same one that led them back from the end of the word, the one that showed the location of both Barbossa and Jack's next destination: the legendary Fountain of Youth, Jack's next bid in his eternal (hur hur) quest for immortality.
"I must admit, Jack, I thought I had you figured. But it turns out you're a hard man to predict." "Me, I'm dishonest. And a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly."
Jack's driving desire is very simple: all he really wants, and the ultimate goal of all his various plans and schemes, is freedom: ideally,
immortality, the freedom to roam the oceans forever. In Jack's estimation, the best way to achieve this freedom is through captaincy of a ship, his ship, the Black Pearl. Though the Pearl has passed in and out of his hands many times - piracy is not a profession especially dependent on loyalty, and mutinies are not uncommon - Jack still very much thinks of her as his ship, and he always seems to find his way back to her.
While he is a pirate, willing to use or manipulate others to achieve his own ends, Jack is not a brute or uncaring man. He has no moral qualms about shooting Barbossa in retaliation for leading a mutiny against him and leaving him to die; however, he has never been shown to kill innocents. He was willing to offer Will Turner to Davy Jones in fulfillment of his own debt to Jones, sentencing the young man to 100 years in service on the
Flying Dutchman, in order to avoid the same fate himself - but when Turner suffers a mortal wound, Jack helps him to stab Jones' heart, so that Turner will take Jones' place as immortal captain of the Dutchman, a position Jack had dearly wanted for himself.
Jack conforms to his own personal code of conduct. He is pragmatic, willing to work with those who have betrayed him when doing so helps him gain his own ends. He has a sense of honor and does his best to avoid killing those who have not earned death, but he has no qualms breaking society's rules of engagement - pulling a gun during a duel with swords, for example. He recognizes and respects the right of each person to look out for their own interests first, as he does himself, but when he is truly betrayed, he does not quickly forget it. He is eternally optimistic, with the ability to recognize the humor even in dire situations, and when he finds himself in trouble, his tendency is to focus his strong will on finding a way out - or, if this proves impossible, to simply wait for a rescue that nearly always comes. When he faces his own death by Kraken, he does so head-on, going down fighting.
He tends to either grow on people or grate on them - and on rarer occasions, both at once. He earned the loyalty of the initially pirate-hating blacksmith Will Turner, to the point where Will, unable to bear the thought of Jack being hanged for his crimes at the end of the first film, rescued him from the gallows, openly allying himself with Jack though he knew he was risking his own life by defying the law and saving the life of a pirate. Jack thinks very poorly of 'betrayers and mutineers,' but did not blame the crew of thePearl for keeping to the Pirates' Code and leaving the Isle of Muerta when they had the chance, leaving him behind.
He is ultimately self-serving: Jack knows exactly what he wants and is willing do to what is necessary to get it. However, he has also been known to risk his own life to save those of others who have earned his affection or loyalty, and even those who have not - he dives into the water to save Elizabeth Swann, at that time a complete stranger, when she falls into the sea. When he is, as a result, caught and put in irons, his attitude is more one of resignation and black humor than of regret at having saved her and thus drawn attention to himself.
Jack is a legend, of a sort, at least in his home timeline, and he seems quite willing to allow and at times even encourage the wild stories that spring up around him. He does not speak much about his past, and given that his father's last name is given as Teague, it is likely that even the name Sparrow is either a self-appointed name or a nickname he picked up somewhere in his travels and chose to keep. Ultimately, however, Jack does not seek out power or fame except that which may put him a step closer to his personal goals of freedom and immortality.
"When you marooned me on that godforsaken spit of land, you forgot one very important thing, mate…I'm Captain Jack Sparrow."
Jack Sparrow does not cut an imposing figure at first glance. Small, lithe, nearly perpetually drunk and seemingly touched in the head, his opponents have a habit of underestimating him - at least until they get to know him.
While Jack is a more than capable swordsman and has excellent aim with a pistol - he successfully shoots Davy Jones' chest from his hand while swinging through the air above a ship in the middle of a storm - he prefers, when possible, to avoid physical confrontations and excessive violence. He relies largely on his fast thinking, strategic thinking, and mastery of language to talk his opponents in circles or otherwise manipulate situations into his favor. When that doesn't work, his natural agility, resourcefulness, and willingness to ignore the rules are usually enough to allow him to retreat.
Jack is extremely intelligent, with a surprisingly expansive and distinguished vocabulary for a pirate. His intelligence and steadfast focus on his own goals allow him to think three steps ahead of his adversaries; he is very adept at staging elaborate escapes and setting himself in a position to be of use to those who would otherwise be just as happy to put a bullet in his head.
He is human and has all the attendant squishy parts and vulnerabilities; he is unfamiliar with any technology or weaponry past his own time, though could probably become fairly competent with them as soon as he recognized their usefulness and put his mind to educating himself in their use. Despite his ability at getting himself out of sticky situations, Jack, too, can be tricked or otherwise bested, especially if his opponent shares his willingness to ignore the rules of engagement or is canny and devious enough to take advantage of his altruistic nature.