Disney Wants More Mary Poppins, So Where Could Another Sequel Go?
Grab your umbrella and carpet bag, we're going back to Cherry Tree Lane.
Mary Poppins Returns might not have the same box office clout as the holiday’s smash hit, Aquaman, but it is still performing well at the box office. Naturally, this means that the sequel conversation will rise. Director Rob Marshall has already weighed in, telling The Sun, as reported by Harper’s Bazaar, that “It is early stages but I will say right now that there were eight books, so there’s a lot of great material still to mine. That’s what we worked from, those incredible eight books of P.L. Travers. So, you know …”
Marshall also compared the franchise to Star Wars or James Bond in terms of there being a great character and story. Producer John DeLuca also said that star Emily Blunt “does light up when she speaks to me about it,” and stated that “if the people want it, I think it will happen.”
It’s all somewhat nebulous and vague, but it would not surprise me if there were plans for a third Poppins film after the critical success of Blunt’s turn as the titular nanny, and the decent box office intake. There are indeed eight P.L. Travers books, and all center on Mary having adventures with the Banks family. However, we’ve all but covered all we can do with Jane and Michael, though a spinoff about Jane wouldn’t be too bad. We’ve seen them as kids, but now they’re grown up and have children of their own. The film doesn’t leave much room for having Mary return for a second adventure while they were children, as that would tread too close to the territory of the original film.
So where would we even go next with the series? Would we move on from the Banks family? Would we focus on any children Jane might have in a time jump between films, or would Mary simply find a new family to care for? How can we continue the story of Mary Poppins and the Banks family when we’ve all but run out of story to focus on?
Personally, I’d prefer it if we did not just jump to a whole new generation of Banks children. The period piece elements of the Poppins universe are what make it charming, and the closer we get to the modern day, the more I feel that Mary would lose some of her magic. So we’re somewhat stuck in terms of where to take Mary next.
Of course, we could always come back to this generation of Banks children, as well as with Lin-Manuel Miranda returning to play Jack. However, the one problem would be who would carry the emotional arc of the film. Michael, the new Banks patriarch, carried the emotional through line of Mary Poppins Returns. His problems have been solved, though, and it would seem like an undoing of the entire second film to have him needing another boost.
We could center the film on Jane and Jack for an emotional heart, which would be a fresher take for the series. Both Poppins films have focused on the fathers in the family and needing to learn to be children again and embrace magic. To switch the focus to Jane, with her mother’s activist bent and her own cheery attitude, would take the franchise to a potentially newer place. It would run the risk of still retreading familiar ground with the emphasis on the Banks family, but at least Mary would get to have a female companion rather than just providing emotional support for men.
Regardless of what they choose to do, they will probably make a third film. The screenwriting journey will be interesting here, as there is a far smaller gap between films. What path will the writers choose to follow, and what story will they tell? Hopefully, it will justify its own existence and not just be a pointless cash grab, as Returns managed to pull off.
I’ll end this with a final request: If you must do a third film, have Tom Hiddleston play the Colin Firth antagonist role. He’s been woefully underused as a comedic actor, and he’d have an excellent time playing off Blunt and Miranda. Please, I know I’ll go see the inevitable third film, so at least give me this.
(via Harper’s Bazaar, image: Disney)
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