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Jungle Cruise: Dwayne Johnson’s character and curse explained

Frank Wolff in Disney's Jungle Cruise has a mysterious past, here's everything you need to know about Dwayne Johnson's character

Jungle Cruise: Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff

Who is Dwayne Johnson’s character in Jungle Cruise? Frank Wolff, otherwise known as Skippy, is the captain of the boat that takes Emily Blunt’s Lily through the rivers of Amazon. Knowledgeable of the area, and adept at maneuvouring troubled waters, at first he seems like an affable sailor in need of some quick cash.

As the film progresses, though, we learn much more than that. He has a history with the waters he knows so well, and with some of the horrors that lie in wait during the fantasy movie. Indeed, Frank is much closer to villain Aguirre and the legendary Tears of the Moon than he initially lets on.

By the Jungle Cruise ending, all is revealed, but certain parts happen so fast, it’s easy to wind up a little confused. The Tree of Life, how Frank ended up here, how he and Aguirre know each other, some parts are clearer than others. Rest assured, we’ve meticulously examined the maps of Jungle Cruise to tell you what Frank’s deal is, and how it might figure into a sequel.

What is Frank Wolff’s backstory?

When we first meet him, Johnson’s Wolff is running his usual trip through a river in the Amazon. Heavy on the dad jokes, and some orchestrated distractions, he amuses his audience enough to yield a small payday, that’s cut short due to debts soon after.

When Blunt’s Dr Lily Houghton shows up, he drives a hard bargain price wise, that he then undercuts when he finds out she’s looking for the Tears of the Moon, a mythical plant that only grows in the South American rainforest. She’s got the only known map, and he’s as driven as her to find the hidden treasure.

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This seems convenient, until they’re attacked by the Spanish conquistador Aguirre and his men. Now monsters that have special powers drawn from the jungle, they’re horrific entities that represent what happens when you get on the wrong side of the local tribes.

After the encounter, Frank reveals the truth: he used to be part of Aguirre’s troupe. Centuries ago, Frank’s father died in service of Aguirre’s, and he was taken in by that family. When Aguirre’s daughter got life-threateningly ill, he decided to venture out in search of the Tears of the Moon to save her.

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Frank was the cartographer, expertly detailing their quest in the Amazon. Everyone almost died, but they were saved by people of the rainforest, who used the Tears to help them recover.

Even though the tribe saved his life, Aguirre still tried to bargain for the map to the Tree. When they refused, he became angry, and the resulting fight burned down their village. The tribe elder cursed Aguirre, Frank, and the remainder of their group to always be bound to the river. They’re immortal, but if they stray too far inland, they’re violently drawn back by vines.

Aguirre and Frank had many battles afterward, and eventually Frank tricks Aguirre into a pit and locks him in. Frank continued living a regular life, helping found the port town we meet him in, leading up to the events of the film.

What happened to Aguirre?

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Frank sealing them away meant that Aguirre and his men were bound by vines inside the pit, and eventually dried up. Their corpses lay there, soaking into the jungle, becoming the strange, mutated creatures we see in the movie.

By the time Prince Joachim sets them free, they’ve become one with different animals. One is now part beehive, and Aguirre himself has the power to control snakes. Their abilities are ill-defined, but no less threatening.

What is the curse?

Frank, Aguirre, and their comrades are bound to the river for eternity. This means they must keep to the riverbed, or near enough to it, lest they be pulled back. In the end, Frank makes a sacrifice that leads him to be dried out and bound like Aguirre is when we first see him.

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After centuries, anything different is a certain kind of freedom, and Frank is content to let that be that. The curse appears broken by the end, but nothing seems certain in the world of Jungle Cruise. Except, of course, going for a ride down the river.

Jungle Cruise is in theatres and on Disney Plus Premier Access now.