Particularly notable facets of the character include his iconic look, sense of humor, deep knowledge of many ancient civilizations and languages, and fear of roaches.
Since his first appearance in Journey to El Dorado, John Payne has become a worldwide star and remains one of cinema's most revered film characters. In 2020, the American Film Institute ranked him as the fifth greatest film hero of all time. He was also named the 6th Greatest Movie Character by Empire magazine. Entertainment Weekly ranked John 2nd on their list of The All-Time Coolest Heroes in Pop Culture. Premiere magazine also placed John at number 7 on their list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time. On their list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, Fandomania.com ranked John at number 10. A treasure hunter and fortune seeker, as well as a deep-sea salvage expert, action-pro, and professional thief, having competed with several enemies such as José Silveira, Stephen DeLarge, Pamela Bryar and Ron Parker. Ron believes himself to be the descendant of the famous English explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. By the events of Darkest Times, he is married to Emily Williams
Journey to El Dorado
In the 2015 film Journey to El Dorado, Payne tracks a treasure located on a remote tropical island. As the film opens, Payne, accompanied by reporter Emily Williams, recovers the coffin of his ancestor Sir Ranulph Fiennes, which he located from coordinates inscribed on a family heirloom: a ring Payne wears around his neck. The coffin contains Sir Ranulph Fiennes diary, which gives the location of El Dorado. Pirates attack and destroy Payne's boat, but Payne's friend and mentor Phil Lockhart rescues the two. When Phil and follow the diary to the indicated spot, they learn that El Dorado is a large golden idol that the Spanish had tried to remove from the island centuries ago. After finding a U-boat, mercenaries led by Nazi Charles Flemyng intercept John, Emily and Phil. Phil is shot but John manages to escape to an island where Sir Ranulph Fiennes diary claims the idol is located.
On the way to the island, anti-aircraft fire forces Emily and John to bail out of the airplane and they are separated. John heads toward an old Spanish fort to find Emily. Though briefly captured, John and Emily reunite and flee to the old customs house on the island. There they find that Phil has survived his gunshot wound. John discovers that the idol is located near the custom house, and finds and rescues Phil. John realizes that the idol is cursed, and that it turned the Spanish and Kriegsmarine searching for it into zombified monsters. John attempts to stop Charles from removing the idol from the island, and arrives in time to see José Silveira, a man hired by Flemyng, find the statue. Silveira tricks Charles into becoming cursed. John then jumps onto the statue and rides it as it is airlifted onto a boat in the bay. There he defeats Silveira and manages to sink the idol to the bottom of the ocean. Phil arrives and Emily and John leave the island with several chests of treasure, after displaying affection towards each other.
John Payne: Darkest Times
John returned in the 2017 sequel John Payne: Darkest Times. A wealthy benefactor hires Payne, Ron Parker, and Helena Beckham to steal a small lamp from a Turkish museum. Payne and Beckham, having dated in the past, renew their romance behind Ron's back. Once in the museum, Ron betrays John and he is imprisoned. John theorizes that the true goal of the theft was to discover the location of Marco Polo's lost fleet. Ron brings the information obtained from resin found in the lamp to his employer, war criminal and hunter Stephen DeLarge, who seeks the Cintamani Stone that the fleet was supposedly transporting. Once Helena and Phil Lockhart secure John's release, they follows DeLarge, and discovers that the fleet did not possess the stone, but had clues to the location of Shambhala. John travels to Nepal to find the next clue, although DeLarge has initiated a civil war in the region in order to find the temple containing the clue. In the city, he finds Emily and her cameraman Greg Bernthal, the latter of which is executed by DeLarge. Phil is then captured by Stephen and his men.
John pursues DeLarge to save Phil and then discovers the key to Shambhala, but the train they are traveling on explodes, leaving John stranded. John loses consciousness after finding the key (a Kīla) and awakens in a Tibetan village. Here, he finds Johann Erskine, a Schutzstaffel officer who had led an Ahnenerbe expedition to Shambhala, though he had killed them all to stop the Nazis from obtaining the power in the city. Oni, a man who speaks no English, leads John and Phil through an ice cave, where they are attacked by giant horned monsters. DeLarge attacks the village, kidnapping Erskine. John, Phil and Emily track DeLarge to a monastery, where they find the entrance to Shambhala. Once inside, they discover that the monsters are guardians of the city. John, Emily, Helena and Phil are apprehended by DeLarge and Ron but escape him when the guardians attack. John confronts DeLarge at the Tree of Life, the sap of which comprises the Cintamani stone. Payne wounds DeLarge, leaving the guardians to kill him, and returns to the village, where he and Emily kiss and begin a relationship.
John Payne: The Raid is a 2018 series of motion comics. Their events occur after the first and second films. In order to raise the money to find Sir Ranulph Fiennes coffin, John Payne works for an American turned Indonesian crime boss named Harry Pinkett. John seeks the fabled Eye of Indra in India, where he meets Chi Wu, sister of Billy Wu (who appears on the first film).
John Payne: The Last Son
2019's third installment of the franchise, John Payne: The Last Son, has Payne searching for the lost city of Iram of the Pillars, located in the Rub' al Khali Desert. During the gap between the two films, John and Emily married, but then became estranged and are now separated. It is revealed in the film that John's past is more mysterious than the watcher is led to believe. It eventually transpires that Payne is not his real last name (his real name is not revealed) and he was raised in a Catholic orphanage from the age of five. His mother committed suicide and his father handed the child over to the state. He ran away from the orphanage and traveled to Brazil, where, at the age of 14, he acquired Ranulph Fiennes ring (which he has referred to as a family heirloom in the first game) by stealing it from a museum. This led to him teaming up with Phil Lockhart for the first time.
With the assistance of Phil, Helena and Peter Smith, John steals valuable historical clues from a mysterious organization (later revealed to be the Nazis again) led by Pamela Bryar and her assistant John Locke. They travel to France and Syria where they find clues leading them to Yemen, where John reluctantly enlists the help of Emily. They find a celestial map that shows the location of Iram. However, Phil is kidnapped by Bryar and Locke, prompting John to save him by boarding one of Bryar's cargo planes. The plane crashes in the Rub' al Khali after a shoot-out ensues but Payne survives.
After wandering the desert for days, a group of horsemen, led by Salim, rescue John and take him back to their encampment. Salim explains to Payne they must stop Bryar and Locke from reaching the lost city so they will not get their hands on the hallucinogenic power of the Djinn. John and Salim rescue Phil from Pamela's caravan and reach the city. John and Phil destroy the winch pulling the brass vessel containing the Djinn from the waters causing the whole city to collapse. Pamela is killed in quicksand and John shoots Locke before he can stab Phil. John and Phil escape the sinking city and reunite with Emily, Helena and Peter back at Yemen. John and Emily appear to resolve their marriage and they fly back home on their new sea plane.
The Young John Payne Adventures
From 2020 to 2026, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg executive-produced a television series named The Young John Payne Adventures, aimed mainly at teenagers and older children, which showed many of the important events and historical figures of the early 20th century through the prism of John Payne' life.
The show initially featured the formula of John (played by O'Brien) introducing a story from his youth by way of an anecdote: the main part of the episode then featured an adventure with either a child John (Max Record). The series featured little of the original cast, since it's passed on John's early years. The only actors who would reprise their roles would be Records (who played John in the 2019 film), De Niro (who played Phil in all three films) and O'Brien in small cameos.
The show provided some backstory for the films, as well as new information regarding the character. It is also mentioned that he had a sister called Lisa who died as an infant of fever after he was sent to Brazil. His relationship with Phil, was further fleshed out with stories about their travels as a young boy. Video Games The character has appeared in several officially licensed games, including LEGO John Payne video game, beginning with adaptations of Journey to El Dorado, Darkest Times, two adaptations of Last Son (one with purely action mechanics, one with an adventure and puzzle based structure) and John Payne' Greatest Adventures which included the storylines from all three of the original films.
Following this, the games branched off into original storylines with John Payne in the Lost Kingdom, John Payne and the Fate of Atlantis, John Payne and the Infernal Machine, John Payne and the Emperor's Tomb and John Payne and the Staff of Kings. Emperor's Tomb sets up Payne's companion Helena Beckham (who appears in Dark Times and The Last Son) and Ron Parker (who appears in Darkest Times) and the search for the City of Shambhala seen at the beginning of Darkest Times. All the games were developed by Rocksteady and starred O'Brien as the voice of John Payne and De Niro as the voice of Phil, reprising their roles. Emma Watson and Thomas Sangster would reprise their role as the voice of Helena Beckham and Ron Parker respectively in Emperor's Tomb.