Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time. You may think was only due to her physical attractiveness, but Lara Croft represents a huge shift in the way that video game developers marketed their characters.
The first Tomb Raider game appeared on the 32-bit consoles of the day, which allowed 3D models to be used in a way that the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo could not. This meant that games could now star reasonable facsimiles of human beings, rather than cartoon-style sprites.
Lara Croft was a pioneer in marketing a character based on fanservice, while still making the character appealing to both genders due to the fact that she was a badass who went on exciting adventures. Lara Croft may have been running around in short shorts, but she was no Princess Peach and wasn't spending her time waiting to be saved: Lara was the star of her own series and she had no problem gunning down anyone who tried to get in her way.
Since the release of the original Tomb Raider, Lara Croft has been interpreted in many different ways and has appeared in numerous different franchises. This means that Lara has had some bizarre adventures in her many multimedia appearances, many of which the fans may not be aware of.
We are here today to learn the secrets of Lara Croft's journey to video game stardom: from the inspirations of her design, to the controversy created when one of her models tried to show things.
Here are Twenty Weird Things About Lara Croft’s Body Fans Forget!
20 Lara Croft Has Appeared On More Magazine Covers Than Any Video Game Character
Lara Croft became one of the most iconic video game characters of all time during the period when video game magazines were still a big part of the industry. The Internet had yet to evolve to the point where any piece of video game news was instantly broadcast to the world, which meant that magazines still had all of the scoops.
Lara Croft was actually honored by the Guinness World Records for being the video game character who has appeared on more magazine covers than any other. To date, Lara has appeared on over 1,200 magazine covers and will likely continue to do so in her latest iteration. A near-complete directory of these magazine covers can be found here.
19 The Shadow Warrior Cameo
The popularity of Lara Croft has meant that several different games have made reference to both her and the Tomb Raider series as a whole.
The first-person shooter title called Shadow Warrior once featured quite an obvious Tomb Raider easter egg, as you can find Lara Croft hanging in a cell. It's possible for the player to slay Lara Croft, which is the only way in which you can interact with her.
The Lara Croft model looked different in the beta version of the game, as her clothes were torn and her mouth was taped up. The version that made it into the game was a lot tamer than what was originally planned.
18 The Final Fantasy Cameos
In 2009, Eidos was purchased by Square Enix, which meant that the creators of Final Fantasy now owned the rights to the Tomb Raider franchise. The fact that Square Enix owns Lara Croft is something that has cropped up in a few Final Fantasy titles in the past.
It was once possible to acquire Lara Croft as a playable character in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. She appeared as part of an event to promote the release of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris. A Lara Croft outfit was also available for Lightning to wear in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
17 The Rare Tribute To Lara Croft
Lara Croft was so popular that she received her own tribute album, filled with songs from some amazing artists. "A Tribute To Lara Croft" features songs from acts such as Aphex Twin, Depeche Mode, Faith No More, Gary Numan, Moby, and Underworld. It was available as both a CD and a vinyl record.
One of the benefits of purchasing "A Tribute To Lara Croft" was the fact that it came with an exclusive image of Lara with her braid down, which can be seen above. Lara has been depicted with it down in numerous promotional images, but this was one of the few times that she was shown like that while wearing her original outfit.
16 Lara Croft Had To Appear In A Commercial (For Legal Reasons)
Gordonstoun is a highly prestigious boarding school in Scotland. It's notable for the fact that many members of the British royal family are alumni of the school. It has also been suggested that Gordonstoun was one of the inspirations for Hogwarts.
The developers of the Tomb Raider franchise decided that Lara Croft attended Gordonstoun in her youth, as she comes from a highly respected noble family. The problem with this decision is that they never actually asked anyone at Gordonstoun if they could tie Lara to the school. This led to Lara being used in a commercial for the school that ran before the first Tomb Raider movie.
15 Lara Croft Was Originally Laura Cruz From South America
When the decision was made to create a female lead for Tomb Raider, the designers decided to go for a character with a rougher edge. The original lead of the game was named Laura Cruz. This early version of Lara Croft was from South America and was the daughter of a serviceman, rather than being a member of a noble family.
Laura Cruz was originally a mercenary and her tomb raiding was as a result of hiring her services out to wealthy individuals. The decision was made to anglicize Laura's name, which resulted in her becoming a full Englishwoman.
14 The Magic Retcon
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation ended with Lara Croft being trapped beneath a ruined temple, seemingly with no means of escaping. The following game in the series was a game called Tomb Raider: Chronicles, which was all about Lara's friends reminiscing about her, which left her true fate unknown.
Lara Croft showed up alive and well in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, with no explanation as to how she survived the events in The Last Revelation. There is an unused cutscene in the files of The Angel of Darkness which revealed that a shaman, named Putai, saved Lara Croft with the use of magic. This explanation was never used in the game.
13 The Tomb Raider Promo
A lot of modern video games use motion-capture to record the movements of real-life actors, in order to make the characters in the game seem as real as possible. The technology to support motion capture didn't exist during the PlayStation era, which meant that Lara Croft's movements were animated by hand.
It was for the best that Lara didn't use primitive motion-capture in the old Tomb Raider games, as a nightmarish version of her appeared in the "Virtual Lara" promo video for Tomb Raider III. "Virtual Lara" is the stuff of uncanny valley nightmares, with her movements and facial animations being so off that they are downright creepy to watch unfold on the screen.
12 Lara Croft Was Almost In A Relationship With Another Woman
The lead writer on both the Tomb Raider reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider was Rhianna Pratchett, who has also worked on games like Heavenly Sword, Mirror's Edge, and BioShock Infinite.
Rhianna Pratchett said in an interview with K. Screen that she would have loved to make Lara Croft gay in the Tomb Raider reboot, but she didn't think the developers would have gone for it.
Rhianna Pratchett never specified which girl Lara would have ended up with, but those who played Tomb Raider have guessed that it was likely Samantha Nishimura, who is Lara's close friend and was often the damsel in distress of the game.
11 She Wasn't Supposed To Look Like That
We've made it through ten entries without bringing up the aspect of Lara Croft that made her so famous in the first place. The reason why Lara Croft had such a chest was due to an error on the behalf of one of the programmers of the original Tomb Raider.
Toby Gard had meant to increase Lara Croft's chest size by fifty percent while experimenting with different designs. Gard accidentally increased the amount by one-hundred and fifty percent, which was met with a positive reception by the other people on the team, so the change stuck around. It wasn't until the Tomb Raider reboot that the proportions of Lara's body were changed to a more realistic size.
10 Lara Croft Has Wielded Both Excalibur & Mjolnir
The version of Thor's hammer that appears in Marvel Comics can only be wielded by someone who is worthy. The version of Thor's hammer that appears in the Tomb Raider universe isn't as discerning, as Lara has used it as a powerful weapon in Tomb Raider Underworld.
Lara Croft also discovered Excalibur during her adventures and used it as a powerful weapon against her foes. She managed to find King Arthur's sword during the events of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.
9 It Took Four Months To Turn Alicia Vikander Into Lara Croft
Alicia Vikander is the most recent actress to take on the mantle of Lara Croft, as she appeared in the recent Tomb Raider movie, which was based on the reboot version of the character.
Alicia Vikander has admitted that she lacked the athleticism to pull off the stunts necessary for an action movie, which is why she entered a four-month-long period of intense training in order to reach the stage where she could play Lara Croft. When Alicia Vikander's training was complete, she had put on over ten pounds of muscle, which involved a regime where she had to eat every three hours.
8 The Lara Croft & Black Widow Connection
The first time that Lara Croft's movements were created by using a motion-capture actor was in Tomb Raider Underworld. The actress who portrayed Lara Croft was Heidi Moneymaker, who is a prominent stuntwoman and actress.
Heidi Moneymaker has appeared in numerous movies, but her most famous outing of late has been working as Scarlett Johansson's stunt double in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Heidi Moneymaker became especially important on the set of Avengers: Age of Ultron, as Scarlett Johansson was pregnant throughout the production of the film, which meant that she had to rely on her body and stunt doubles more than she normally would have to. This means that Black Widow and Lara Croft have shared an actress in an unusual way.
7 Lara Croft Once Battled The Worst Of The Top Cow Universe
The Tomb Raider franchise is best-known for its video games, but Lara Croft doesn't get enough credit for appearing in several successful comic book series, the most famous of which was published by Top Cow.
The fact that the Tomb Raider comics were published by Top Cow meant that Lara was able to have crossovers with the other prominent Top Cow characters. This meant that Lara Croft had team-ups with the likes of Witchblade, Aspen Matthews from Fathom and Jackie Estacado from The Darkness.
Lara Croft's adventures with the Top Cow crew were often more supernatural in nature than those from the video games and she constantly came into contact with the likes of demons and ghosts.
6 The Spice Girls Turned A Man Into Lara Croft
The initial idea for the protagonist of Tomb Raider was for it to be a man, as that was standard among video game protagonists at the time. The early designs were rejected on the grounds that they were too similar to Indiana Jones.
One of the main reasons why Lara Croft was turned from a man into a woman is due to the success of the Spice Girls. This was a girl band that had taken the world by storm, with their "Girl Power" slogan and a string of catchy pop tunes.
The Spice Girls prompted Toby Gard to change the design of the Tomb Raider protagonist from someone that was just eye candy to a character whose positive traits went beyond just beauty.
5 Compiling Lara Croft Sound Effects (Just Don't Tell Her Actor)
The actress who has voiced Lara Croft for the longest period of time so far is Keeley Hawes, who is best-known for starring in Ashes to Ashes. Hawes voiced Lara Croft in five different games over the course of eight years.
It seems that the fans were fond of Keeley Hawes' performance, as they used to compile all of the sound effects she made for Lara Croft and would upload them to the Internet.
Keeley Hawes had a chance to listen to these clips when they were played for her on The Graham Norton Show, which included a series of grunts that were edited together in a weird manner.
4 The Return Of The Lara Croft Model
Have you ever wanted to hear a band that can charitably be called the German version of Bowling for Soup? No? Oh well, we're talking about them anyway. Die Arzte is a punk band from Germany who released a song called "Manner sind Schweine" in 1998. The English translation of that song title is "Men are Pigs."
The video for "Manner sind Schweine" features an extended cameo by Lara Croft. The band get into a firefight with a terribly animated Lara Croft that is on par with the "Virtual Lara" mentioned above.
3 The Woman Without Skin Wants To Help With Skin
Lara Croft has appeared in numerous different commercials over the years and has endorsed products such as Lucozade and SEAT cars.
One of the most bizarre times that Lara Croft was chosen as a spokesperson was for the Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation of Minden, Nevada. She was planned to appear in special media that was meant to be shown at schools across America. The reason why this decision is so odd is that the Skin Cancer Awareness Foundation chose a woman who doesn't actually have any skin to be their advocate. You would think that a real-life actor or actress would have made for a better spokesperson, considering that they can actually demonstrate proper skin care techniques.
2 The Magazine Problem
Lara Croft had become so iconic that real models were used to represent her for public appearances and promotional events. This list of models included Rhona Mitra, who portrayed Lara from 1997 to 1998.
One of the Lara Croft models was actually fired for abusing her position.
Nell McAndrew was the Lara Croft model from 1998 t0 1999. The reason she was fired from this position was that she appeared in a magazine in a way that the publisher of Tomb Raider didn't like. The publisher of Tomb Raider threatened them with legal issues. This resulted in the reference to Tomb Raider being covered with a sticker.
1 Lara Croft's Design Was Based On Neneh Cherry & Tank Girl
The task of designing the character who would become Lara Croft fell to Toby Gard, who wanted to break the mold set by other video games of the era and use a female lead for the game. The reason why Gard wanted to use a female character was partly due to the original Virtua Fighter, as he had noticed that the game only had two playable female characters, yet they would almost always be chosen by the fans.
The original design for Lara Croft was inspired by Neneh Cherry, who is a Swedish musician with several big hits throughout the late '80s and '90s, such as "Buffalo Stance" and "Seven Seconds."
The other major inspiration for Lara Croft's design was Tank Girl, from the comic book of the same name. Tank Girl was created by James Hewlett (of Gorillaz fame) and has been starring in a post-apocalyptic comic book series that has run sporadically since 1988.