Disney Shares New First Look at ‘Peter Pan’ Reboot, Called “Woke Disaster”

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), Tinkerbell closeup

Credit: Disney

The JM Barrie and Disney classic is getting a whole new makeover — again.

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), both flying into Neverland holding hands
Credit: Disney

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The adventurous exploits of eternally youthful Peter Pan, stubborn fairy Tinker Bell, and the adorable Darling children, Wendy, John, and Michael Darling — as they travel through the magical realm of Neverland, battling pirates and the nefarious Captain Hook, meeting mermaids, Native Americans, and the Lost Boys, has entertained children and adults alike for more than a century. It’s just one of those seemingly timeless stories that is making its way back around to our screens in 2023, with The Walt Disney Company’s latest announcement.

Peter Pan looks creepy in the shadows
Credit: IMDb

It was back in 1953 when The Walt Disney Company’s Walt Disney Animation Studios released their take on the 1911 JM Barrie children’s classic, Peter Pan — itself an adaptation of the 1904 play of the same name… which was based on chapters in his 1902 novel, The Little White Bird. So you could say that adaptation is in Peter Pan‘s blood.

Today, Disney’s official channels have released a first new look at the upcoming Peter Pan & Wendy — yet the question remains in 2023 — have there been one too many adaptations of this perennial children’s tale?

Peter Pan & Wendy, Wendy Darling at pirate steering wheel
Credit: Disney

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Let’s take a short trip down memory lane with Peter Pan. Since Disney’s 1953 animated classic, the Peter Pan tale has been revived and retold quite a few times. Not including several entries (namely Australian, Japanese, and French-Indian animated adaptations), audiences have already witnessed Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates (1990) TV series, the cult classic film Hook (1991), Disney’s own Return to Never Land (2002), animated Tinker Bell (2008) and its fairy and Tink-centric spin-offs, TV miniseries Neverland (2011), Disney Junior’s Jake and the Never Land Pirates (2011), Hugh Jackman-as-Blackbeard movie, Pan (2015), and Stanley Tucci-as-Captain Hook movie, Peter and Wendy (2015).

That’s… a lot of Peter Pan! And that selection includes only a few film and television titles — which truly makes 2023’s Disney-mandated Peter Pan reboot, Peter & Wendy, potentially “just another” addition in a slew of multiple Pan-related works.

Peter Pan at window, Peter Pan & Wendy
Credit: Disney

Frankly, Disney’s reliance on reboots and remakes has long-stirred discussions around its dominance and role as industry leaders slipping. When Disney dropped the announcement for David Lowery directed Peter Pan & Wendy after its initial D23 reveal, showcasing new footage of its cast and new key-art — individuals online had a lot to say. Twitter user @bittersteels encapsulates a lot of the ignorance surrounding this upcoming Disney reboot, admitting:

i have so many questions. since when was there a peter pan reboot. since when was yara cast as tink. who ASKED for a peter pan reboot??!?!?

What is the reboot changing from the original Peter Pan?

Disney appears to be using this chance to right some of their prior wrongs, as well as committing more heavily to inclusion and diversity. Alongside Alexander Molony as Peter Pan, Ever Anderson as Wendy Darling, Jude Law also plays Captain Hook in this updated tale. Jim Gaffigan (Mr. Smee), Yara Shahidi (Tinker Bell), Alyssa Wapanatâhk (Tiger Lily), Joshua Pickering (John Darling), Jacobi Jupe (Michael Darling), Alan Tudyk (George Darling), and Molly Parker (Mary Darling) also feature in the upcoming film.

Peter Pan & Wendy, Lost Boys
Credit: Disney

There is a notably diverse cast of Lost Boys (of whom not all are “boys”, as specified in the trailer), as well as a portrayal of Native American Tiger Lily that appears to be more accurate a representation of Native American peoples. This is in contrast to the 1953 film’s original depiction involving questionable and stereotypical portrayals of Indigenous communities, including entire song numbers that utilize outdated terminology and paint the community as “exotic savages”. Tinkerbell will also be portrayed by mixed heritage actress Yara Shahidi, best known for her role in the sitcom Black-ish (2014-2022), which marks a first for Disney, in a marked deviation from the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Tinkerbell that is arguably the most well-known Disney mascot after Mickey Mouse. It’s a visible change from Disney’s past rendition for sure, but not one that goes against any existing concept of Neverland’s fairies.

Tiger Lily in Peter Pan & Wendy with white horse
Credit: Disney

Why are people upset at Disney?

For starters, the obvious. People are upset that Disney is putting out more of their infamous remakes, rebooting old classics into “live-action” (or heavily realist CGI), over making new, original content. As @DrVoygexCo so succinctly puts it:

Stop with the damn remakes

As expected, the changes have also brought on the ire of some fans — while others defend the changes that Disney has made in this 2023 reboot. YouTuber Patrick Dougall discusses the race-centric comments and opinions that are starting to take over social media:

I knew I shouldn’t have looked in the comments of Disney’s #PeterPanAndWendy post…

But if your comment starts with, “I’m not racist but…” It’s absolutely gonna be racist! Some people seem SO pressed lately over mythical creatures skin color.

There appear to be several camps forming regarding the new Disney trailer release, including those vehemently against this allegedly “woke disaster”, and those cautiously excited for the new film:

Another woke disaster.
✔️Non-white Peter Pan
✔️Non-white Tinkerbell
✔️ Female lost BOYS.
And there is no doubt Peter will end up being bi, even though his character is supposed to be like 11 years old.

Meanwhile, tentative excitement for the project has also sprung up. Critic John Rocha shares:

Y’all might kill me for this, but…I kinda liked this #PeterPanAndWendy trailer!

I wasn’t sure if we needed yet ANOTHER Peter Pan movie.

BUT I dig the approach here, the look of it, the action sequences and the diverse casting.

Count me interested to see the end product!

All of this is set to kick off in April of this year on Disney+ streaming. Will this live-action update prove another worthy Peter Pan adaptation — in a string of seemingly never-ending rehashed takes? Will this turn out to be mere virtue-signaling on Disney’s part? Only time will tell.

Will you be watching Peter Pan & Wendy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV

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