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‘Peter Pan & Wendy’ Promises a Dazzling Return to Neverland

Yara Shahidi as Tinker Bell blowing fairy dust in Peter Pan & Wendy

Peter Pan & Wendy is coming to Disney+ soon, making Peter Pan the latest classic fairy tale to receive a modern reimagining from Disney. Peter Pan and Wendy Darling have become beloved characters since appearing in J. M. Barrie’s books, the first of which was published in 1902. Since then, multiple film and TV adaptations have been made featuring Barrie’s iconic characters. One of the most popular adaptations is Disney’s 1953 animated classic Peter Pan.

The film highlights all of the reasons why Pan has become an icon, as it perfectly captures the allure of childhood imagination and the bittersweet nature of growing older and leaving childhood behind. Unfortunately, not every adaptation of Peter Pan has been able to adequately capture the magic of the original tale. More recent adaptations, including Hook (1991), Peter Pan (2003), and Pan (2015) were either panned by critics or proved to be box office flops. As a result, it’s been quite some time since we’ve had an impactful live-action Peter Pan adaption.

However, with Disney reimagining many of its classics, such as Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Aladdin, it was only a matter of time before it decided to revisit Peter Pan. With Disney recently dropping the official trailer for Peter Pan & Wendy, anticipation for the live-action remake has only increased. Based on what we know so far, the film is shaping up to be a nostalgic recapturing of the tale’s original magic along with a few upgrades, including a cast that is more diverse and representative than prior Peter Pan adaptations.

Peter Pan & Wendy‘s release date

On February 28, Disney dropped the official release date for Peter Pan & Wendy. While it was previously known that the film will premiere in 2023, Disney set an exact release date of April 28, 2023. Meanwhile, Peter Pan & Wendy will go straight to streaming on Disney+. While the film was at one point scheduled to be released theatrically, Disney ultimately settled on an exclusive streaming release.

Peter Pan & Wendy‘s trailer

Along with confirming the release date, Disney simultaneously dropped the official trailer for Peter Pan & Wendy.

The trailer shows snippets of a swashbuckling adventure in which children, fairies, pirates, and mermaids collide. It starts with the ominous voice of Jude Law’s Captain Hook questioning the kids’ arrival in Neverland as he targets the Darling children in his relentless mission to find Pan (Alexander Molony). We see the children taking their first flight, are introduced to the Lost Boys (who aren’t all boys!), get a few action shots of Pan and Hook’s fight, and get our first glimpse of mermaids and fairies.

Peter Pan & Wendy was written and directed by David Lowery, who previously directed Disney’s live-action reimagining of Pete’s Dragon—a surprisingly poignant movie that vastly improved upon its source material. Lowery most recently directed the 2021 medieval fantasy The Green Knight, and his previous credits include the acclaimed indies A Ghost Story and The Old Man and the Gun.

Peter Pan & Wendy‘s cast

Alexander Molony as Peter Pan in Peter Pan & Wendy

Peter Pan & Wendy will feature two relatively new but rising young actors as its lead stars. Alexander Molony, who has several TV and voice credits, will make his film debut as Pan, while Ever Anderson will star in her first leading role as Wendy, after previously having supporting roles in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter and Black Widow. Based on the trailer, both seem to be perfect fits for their roles, as Anderson perfectly captures Wendy’s maturity and emotional complexity, while Molony exudes charm and confidence as Pan. Meanwhile, two-time Academy Award nominee Jude Law plays the nefarious Captain Hook. The actor seems to be fully diving into the role, as his fearsome pirate-y appearance renders him nearly unrecognizable in the trailer.

Black-ish and Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi stars in the film as Tinker Bell. The trailer unveils the first look at Shahidi as Tinker Bell, and she looks nothing short of magical as the fairy, putting racist trolls who criticized her casting to shame. Meanwhile, A Discovery of Witches star Joshua Pickering will portray Wendy’s brother, John Darling, while Jacobi Jupe, the younger brother of A Quiet Place star Noah Jupe, will portray the youngest Darling boy, Michael. Actors Alan Tudyk and Molly Parker will round out the Darling family as Mr. Darling and Mrs. Darling, respectively.

Alyssa Wapanatâhk will make her film debut as Tiger Lily, the daughter of the chief of Neverland’s Indigenous tribe. Past Peter Pan adaptations have portrayed the tribe as stereotypical Native Americans, sparking allegations of racism. However, Peter Pan & Wendy‘s creators have vowed to provide an authentic representation of the film’s Indigenous tribe through research and input from Wapanatâhk, who hails from the Bigstone Cree Nation. Comedian Jim Gaffigan will also star in the film as Captain Hook’s lovable boatswain, Smee. Rounding out the cast are Noah Matthews Matofsky, Sebastian Billingsley-Rodriguez, Kelsey Yates, Skyler Yates, Florence Bensberg, Caelan Edie, Diana Tsoy, and Felix de Sousa, who will portray Pan’s band of Lost Boys.

Peter Pan & Wendy‘s plot

Ever Anderson as Wendy Darling steering a boat in Peter Pan & Wendy

As said above, Peter Pan & Wendy is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s Peter Pan (1953). Hence, like its predecessor, it is based on the 1904 play by Barrie titled Peter Pan: The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. The play was later made into a 1911 novel titled Peter and Wendy. This tale follows the classic story of Pan, a mischievous young boy who can fly and visits the Darling children at night to listen to their bedtime stories. He soon invites Wendy to be a mother to his ragtag group of Lost Boys in Neverland, leading Wendy and her brothers to fly to the magical realm. There, John and Michael Darling become Lost Boys, while Wendy and Pan have many adventures and fight Pan’s nemesis, Captain Hook.

However, the downfall of Neverland is that those within begin to forget the outside world. As a result, the Darling children are torn between staying with Pan and returning home to their mother. The decision is especially difficult because Pan staunchly refuses to leave Neverland or settle into a home with a family, fearful that he’ll grow up if he leaves the magical realm.

In the trailer, we see the mischievous Pan visiting the Darling children and taking them to Neverland. We even witness the moment when Wendy is almost knocked out of the air by a cannon. Additionally, we see Captain Hook’s pursuit of the children, the aid they receive from Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, and the struggles that the children have in returning to their mother, as Wendy, like Pan, also fears growing up.

While it almost seems like a rehashing of the 1953 film, it is simply a modern retelling that stays true to the original beloved story while adding diversity, advanced visual effects, and the talents and perspectives of an entirely new cast and crew.

(featured image: Disney)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.