The film's plot is loosely based on the 2013 reboot of the video game series, Tomb Raider (2013). It also shares some minor elements of Crystal Dynamics' rebooted video game sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015).
In March 2013, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that they acquired the rights to the "Tomb Raider" film franchise from Paramount Pictures, who had let their film rights expire after Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003) failed to find audiences.
For this film, Alicia Vikander wanted to play a strong and physically fit Lara Croft, so her goal was to gain enough muscle and strength. Walton Goggins stated that: "She is just a real powerhouse. She made me embarrassed to take my shirt off, and I go to the gym five days a week!"
In one of the trailers released for the movie, Lara Croft is seen buying two Heckler and Koch USP Match handguns and saying "I'll take two." In the 'Lara Croft' movies starring Angelina Jolie, Lara wields the same weapons in both movies.
When Lara enters for the first time in the Croft company it's playing the Piano Concerto in F Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. The same melody plays in the first Tomb Raider movie when Lara is doing gymnastics with bungee cords in her house.
Alicia Vikander is the second actress to portray Lara Croft in a movie, but is also the second Oscar winning actress to do so after Angelina Jolie. The two won in the same category, Best Supporting Actress (Jolie in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted (1999) and Vikander in 2016 for The Danish Girl (2015)). Furthermore, both actresses were born with the same first and last initials (AV), since Jolie was originally called Angelina Jolie Voight before she dropped the 'Voight' name.
When Empire Magazine interviewed Gemma Arterton on her vampire film Byzantium (2012). The actress was told that she had been on many fan's wish-list for the role of Lara Croft and one of the series of Twitter questions put to her by the interviewer asks, if she would be interested in playing Lara Croft and she gave the standard answer "If the script was good" and revealed she was a big fan of the video game as a teenager.
After the release of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), Angelina Jolie announced she didn't want to do another film as the iconic video game character, hence the reboot of the franchise. However, in late 2013, there were rumors Angelina Jolie wanted to come back as Lara Croft, but the rumor was false.
In 2009, Warner Bros. had plans to reboot the franchise with some help from Lin Pictures with Megan Fox attached to star. However, when in 2011 the project died, MGM began its efforts to bring their prequel version to life. In 2013, the studio brought on Marti Noxon to rewrite the reboot and take over for Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, all of whom are now being replaced by the Daugherty.
The film borrows some plot elements from Star Trek: Beyond (2016). Paramount Pictures that produced and released the film, produced and released Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) which this film is a reboot of.
Saoirse Ronan, one of the frontrunners for Lara Croft had starred in the action film Hanna (2011) as the title character. In that film, Hanna (Ronan) lives in a Finnish wilderness training as an assassin which in the opening scene, she's seen hunting a reindeer. In the 2013 video game which this film is a loose adaption. Lara Croft learns to survive and becomes a warrior when she is stranded on a island.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
During the film's climax, Lara leaps across the "Chasm of Souls" and grasps for the ledge, driving her pry axe into the wall and hanging on by one arm. This is a frequent game mechanic of the 2013 video game, Tomb Raider (2013), often timed with a button press to prevent falling.
After escaping Vogel and landing from the parachute, Lara is impaled by a stick through her side. This injury is the same injury she suffers in the opening of the 2013 video game, and serves as a key plot element for the opening chapters.
The movie does not feature supernatural elements, unlike the video game it's based on. Instead, it is told that the Queen of Death is immune to an unknown disease and acts as a carrier which spreads through touch.
In the movie, it is never explained why the island is so hard to find and cannot be escaped from. However, it is elaborated on in the 2013 video game. In the game, it is explained that Himiko has supernatural power over the weather, and that severe wind and rain put the island in a perpetual storm. Once Himiko is laid to rest, the island's weather calms so that Lara can escape. This is alluded to in the movie by the severe weather when they arrive, and the clear sunny skies when they leave.
In the rebooted video game franchise's sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) one of the principle antagonists is Ana, a former lover of Lara's father and senior Trinity agent. Although in the game, Ana's surname is not mentioned, it is likely the Ana Miller character from the movie is based on this character. There are hints in the movie, including Ana confessing to being close to Lord Richard Croft prior to his disappearance, and the shot of Ana getting on the elevator as Lara pieces together the connection between Trinity and Croft Holdings, prompting her to continue investigating her father's disappearance.
One of Lara's key pieces of equipment in the 2013 video game is her red climbing pry axe, which she gains in the tutorial stages and utilises for the rest of the game. However, she does not aquire her iconic weapon until the climax of the movie.
After Lara sets out to return to the camp, she picks up a recurve bow and arrows from her father's cave. This is the only bow she is seen using in this movie, however it is the second of four bows she utilises in the 2013 video game (the others being a makeshift longbow, a modern compound bow and a high tech competition bow).