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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children‘s Trailer Confirms Changes to Olive & Emma’s Roles

The official trailer for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Tim Burton’s adaptation of the young adult fantasy stories, has just come out — and the trailer confirms what some fans had already suspected from the preview images released for the film. The characters Olive and Emma have been swapped.

Fans of the original story will recall that Olive, the character with the ability to float in the air, was more of a side character. Emma Bloom, who had the power to control fire, became Jacob’s friend and was the one to invite him into Miss Peregrine’s time loop. Emma and Jacob develop romantic feelings for one another over the course of their adventures together.

In Tim Burton’s movie adaptation, Jacob still befriends a mysterious girl named Emma Bloom — but this time, Emma doesn’t have fire powers, she has “air” powers. That includes the ability to float (like Olive’s power in the source material), but also includes other powers like blowing air underwater as seen in the trailer, and perhaps other air-related powers yet to be revealed. What’s extra-weird is that Olive still appears to be in the movie, except now Olive is the one with the fire powers; also Olive appears to be the same age as Jacob, although she doesn’t seem to do much in the trailer. The rest of the orphans are still mostly girls, as in the original, and most of their powers and appearances have remained roughly the same, other than the main swap between Olive and Emma.

It’s cool to see a movie that is focused almost entirely on young girl characters with super-powers, all led over by Miss Peregrine who has powers herself. However, the change in Emma’s powers does seem strange and perhaps disappointing depending on how it plays out. I would guess that the reasoning behind it would be a visual one; the shots of Emma floating look gorgeous, haunting, and very striking, as is typical for Tim Burton’s style. However, this change undeniably alters the impression one might get about a romance between Emma and Jacob. Seeing him holding the rope around her in all of the promotional materials, since she cannot “control” her floating away, doesn’t exactly send a great signal about their dynamic as a couple.

It was cool that the original heroine of the story had fire powers rather than a more passive power like air and floating, because it felt like a subversion of expectations — especially for an ingenue and potential romantic interest for the male lead. Now that Emma has a more “passive” power, at least based on what we’ve seen in the trailer, it changes the framing of the narrative — particularly at the end of the trailer, when Jacob learns that his power is to “protect” the orphans whenever monsters attack them. (Framing Jacob’s power as being all about “protecting” the girls is a bit of an oversimplification, anyway.) All of that has a different connotation now that Olive and Emma’s powers have been swapped, because the two lead characters no longer seem like equals when it comes to evading their supernatural attackers.

In spite of my own reservations about that change, I still think the trailer looks beautiful and like a fun, exciting watch. The floating “air” powers look incredible, as I’ve said, so I can understand why Tim Burton and the rest of the creative team wanted to use them in the movie as much as possible. I can’t help but hope that Emma ends up with some sort of “force push” powers so that she can be a little more capable of fighting some monsters herself, should it come to that. I’d much rather see her doing that as opposed to just floating around looking like a mysterious angel.

What do you all think about the trailer? Are you disappointed about the changes to the story? Or does it look so cool that you’re willing to hop on board?

(via /Film)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).