Disney Releases First Trailer For Their Live-Action 'Peter Pan and Wendy'!
Full Disclosure: I am a lifelong Peter Pan Purist. I have read the original 1911 novel by J.M. Barrie numerous times, as well as the stage play on which it’s based. I have seen the 1953 Disney animated film a bazillion times as well as the various musical iterations, and I have even attempted to sit through several bone-headed “re-imaginings” that shall remain nameless. My love for the story began when I was in 1st Grade, and whenP.J. Hogan’s live-action adaptation – starringJeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood, and Jason Isaacs – came out in 2003, I knew that the definitive Peter Pan movie had finally been made.
Now, 20 years later, Disney is trying their hand at their own live-action adaptation, titled Peter Pan and Wendy, the trailer for which just dropped. As the foremost self-declared expert on the subject, I couldn’t stop myself from running to my keyboard and jotting down my various thoughts.
For starters, it’s pretty astounding that this is only the 2nd live-action adaptation of the OG PP story in recent memory. You literally have to go back to the Silent Era to find another live-action film based on Barrie’s book. All other Peter Pan-related media is either a cartoon, a weird “origin story”, a convoluted “sequel”, a creepy “reimagining”, or campy musicals. So right off the bat, this is something to celebrate simply for existing.
Peter Pan and Wendy is directed by David Lowery, who is no stranger to this genre, having helmed Disney’s live-actionPete’s Dragon as well as 2021’s cult fave The Green Knight. Lowery is also credits as a co-writer along withToby Halbrooks, J.M. Barrie, and the 8 writers of the 1953 animated film, which seems to suggest that they are pulling a lot of material from that 70-year-old cartoon, though looking at the trailer, that does not seem evident at all.
The trailer opens with Wendy (Ever Anderson) wandering aimlessly on the island of Neverland, seemingly abandoned by Peter Pan (Alexander Molony), which is honestly so canon of him. Wendy stumbles upon Peter’s Lost Boys, which for the first time also includes some Lost Girls. I like how the trailer focuses so much on Wendy; Disney seems to understand that Peter Pan is actually her story. In fact, Peter himself only makes a couple very brief appearances. So it’s very hard to gauge from this trailer the nature of his personal interactions with Wendy. This is Peter Pan and Wendy after all, right? But we see very little of the “and” in this trailer. There’s a very brief shot of them holding hands while flying, and another shot of Wendy looking at the “kiss” Peter gave her (actually an acorn) with Peter watching her woefully, but that’s little to go on at this point. Do these two young actors even have any chemistry together at all? There is no way to judge yes or no in this trailer.
In fact, judging by the way the trailer is bookended with Captain Hook (Jude Law) directly addressing Wendy, it would seem that perhaps this film is taking a cue from Hogan’s ’03 version and playing up the interactions between Wendy and Hook. This would honestly be super okay with me, as that was the best part of PP03. No, it’s not altogether canon, as Wendy and Hook have very few meaningful interactions in the book – aside from Wendy being very impressed with how well-mannered and gallant Hook is when he kidnaps her – but it plays very well with the themes surrounding Wendy struggling with the idea of growing up. Does she want to stay with the boy Peter, or would she rather join up with the man Hook? (Ultimately she decides that neither are a good option, and honestly, fair.)
As for Peter himself, there is very little to go on. He only has like two lines in the entire trailer, so it’s hard to judge how well Molony embodies this character, who is essentially a charismatic satyr capable of charming young children out of their bedrooms in the middle of the night and luring them to his magical island.
Likewise goes for Tinker Bell. Yara Shahidi is as cute as a button as Peter’s pixie bestie, but so far, that’s about it. It doesn’t look like she has any actual dialogue (which, of course, she shouldn’t), but it doesn’t look like she has much else to do either. Judging by the fact that Wendy is discovered by the Lost Boys & Girls conscious and healthy and NOT with an arrow in her chest on Tink’s command, Disney might be dropping the whole (one-sided) Tink vs. Wendy rivalry altogether. Which is weird because, like, the fact that Tink is insanely jealous of Wendy to the point of being homicidal is pretty integral to the plot. There is no reason to make Tink Wendy’s bestie, especially since Tiger Lily (Alyssa Wapanatahk) appears to be fulfilling that role in this movie. And without such an intense storyline, what really is there for Yara to do in this movie other than sparkle charmingly? Seems like a waste, no?
Then there is Hook himself. I think we were all pretty surprised when Disney announced that Jude Law had been cast in the role, though probably all for very different reasons. At the very least, he has blue eyes like Hook is supposed to, so that’s good. Other than that, as with every other character aside from Wendy, this trailer gives me very little to go on with regards to what direction they are taking Hook here. Every iteration of the story seems to have its own interpretation. The book sets up Hook as a tragic, melancholy figure who has let his bitterness take over. The Disney cartoon portrays Hook as sinister yet buffoonish villain who is honestly not that intimidating. Most musicals (as well as Spielberg’s Hook) give us a silly, foppish Hook who is the butt of the joke. In the 2003 movie, Hook is an emo yet dashing cad who is both scary and hot. Which way will Law’s Hook go? A little bit of “all of the above”? Or something new entirely?
What we do know – and what is actually pretty strange – is that Law will not also be playing Wendy’s father, George Darling, which is a huge break with tradition going all the way back to when the story was just a play during the early 1900s. Even the Disney cartoon had the same actor voicing both Hook and Mr. Darling! So I can’t for the life of me imagine why they aren’t doing it here as well, as it has a huge thematic impact on the story.
So basically, my biggest takeaway from this trailer is: I still have no idea what we’re in for here. We know there is a heavy emphasis on Wendy but little else. Hopefully more trailers and clips will be released before the movie drops on Disney+ on April 28. Stay tuned!