The following contains major spoilers for Disney's Jungle Cruise.
Disney's Jungle Cruise movie is here, following a year long delay that changed it from a 2020 release to one of 2021's new movies. And whether you watched it in theaters or on Disney+, the movie is a fun adventure that is absolutely worth seeing. Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt are incredible together and they make the movie so much fun. Jungle Cruise is clearly following in the footsteps of Pirates of the Caribbean, a film that was also based on a Disneyland theme park attraction. The Pirates movies became a massive franchise worth billions of dollars, and it seems quite clear based on the Jungle Cruise ending that there are hopes this movie could become a franchise as well.
So just what happens at the end of Jungle Cruise, and what does it mean to this potentially brand new franchise? And just what sort of inspiration could the theme parks be for future films? Let's take a look at how Jungle Cruise ends to see where it may be going in the future.
How Disney's Jungle Cruise Ends
The quest of Jungle Cruise is all about the discovery of a mystical tree that legend tells has magical healing powers. If this tree could be found it could potentially save millions of lives. That's the goal of Emily Blunt's Dr. Lily Houghton, but we learn earlier in the film that Dwayne Johnson's Skipper Frank Wolff is also looking for the tree for his own reasons. He's been cursed and he needs the tree to break the curse so that he can finally die.
It turns out Frank was part of the same group of Conquistadors who went searching for the tree hundreds of years before, and he was cursed along with his leader Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez). Frank hopes that the tree will set him free of the curse, which forces him to stay near the Amazon River. After living several hundred years, Frank is ready to simply find his final rest, though Lily, who realizes she has feelings for Frank, is not as interested in this possibility.
In the end, the tree is discovered, but Lily is only able to obtain a single petal from it before the tree goes dormant. At the same time, Frank blows up his ship in order to use it as a dam and block the Amazon River inside the cave. By separating Aguirre and his soldiers from the water, they become frozen in time and trapped among the tree roots. Unfortunately, since Frank is under the same curse, the same fate befalls him.
Lily ends up using the one petal from the tree to attempt to rescue Frank and it works. However, instead of dying, by choice or luck, Frank lives on rather than dying.
And luckily, a last minute ray of moonlight creates one final petal, which Lily and her brother take back to London to prove that their theory about the tree had been true. In the final moments we see that Frank is in London with Lily, proving that the curse is truly broken and the two drive off together, and Lily has even learned to pun.
What The Ending Means For The Future Of The Jungle Cruise Franchise
The cast and crew of Jungle Cruise have been open about the fact that sequels are very much a possibility here. Having said that, the first movie ends having simply opened the door to them, without any specific set up in the film. Frank and Lily are together. Frank's curse is broken, meaning he can travel anywhere he wants to go, and so, if adventure calls them, they can answer.
A lot of comparisons were made between between Jungle Cruise and the Indiana Jones movies, as well as Romancing the Stone, which also was a movie that got a sequel. And those comparisons make a lot of sense after seeing the movie, especially in regards to how it ends. While those movies saw their main characters go off onto new adventures, those adventures were not directly connected to what came before. Each story was complete in itself, and each new entry simply told of the next big adventure the character(s) experienced.
That feels like what Jungle Cruise is doing here. This particular entry feels complete and it seems unlikely that there would be any particular need to return and continue this story. Instead, if we do see sequels, they will likely be entirely new adventures that Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, and Jack Whitehall go on together, maybe searching for other mystical objects or traveling the world in search of something else. And the Jungle Cruise itself really does lend itself to that idea.
What Disneyland's Jungle Cruise Could Tell Us About Future Movies
The movie is called Jungle Cruise and because of the cross promotional opportunities between the movie and the theme park, we can be fairly certain that any sequels will use the same name, and will likely thus involve our heroes traveling down a river in the middle of a jungle. But that's just fine because the actual Jungle Cruise attraction includes many of the world's greatest rivers already.
The story of the Jungle Cruise attraction at Disneyland suggests that guests actually travel down several of the biggest rivers in the world, one right after the other. The Amazon, the setting for the new movie, is actually the last river you travel down, after already visiting the Irrawaddy and Mekong rivers, then traveling down the Nile and the Congo.
As such, it would make all the sense in the world for future Jungle Cruise movies to be set in one of these other places. All the next movie would need is a reason that Frank, Lily, and McGregor would want to travel there, and then they can head down the river once more, in search of some new mystery and with all new dangers trying to stop them.
There's even more inspiration from the ride to be found, both the Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions of the Jungle Cruise just saw significant updates that creates a bit more of a cohesive story for part of the ride. It also introduces a host of new named characters within the lore of the attraction, who could be introduced as characters in future movies, as happened with Trader Sam, or they could simply be name-dropped as part of the backstory, as was done here with Dr. Albert Falls. In fact, Dr. Falls granddaughter is now part of the ride's story, so perhaps she could appear in a future film.
Whether or not there will actually be Jungle Cruise sequels will be determined by Disney from a combination of the film's success at the box office and on Disney+. But if it does happen there are many cruises left to take.