Peter Pan isn’t Woke, Fans Are just Salty

in Disney, Movies

New and Original versions of Peter Pan

Credit: ITM/Disney

The trailer for Disney+’s Peter Pan and Wendy dropped this week, and already some are calling it the studio’s newest “woke disaster.” That seems to be par for the course for many new Disney productions these days, but anyone who’s even remotely familiar with the Peter Pan mythos will know that adapting the famous story has been a lot more inclusive and experimental than some might think.

peter pan and wendy adds nick offerman to cast
Credit: Disney

Walt Disney’s 1953 animated adaptation was a passion project for the man behind the mouse, but it was far from original. From 1904 to 2023 (yes, we are including the upcoming David Lowery version), there have been dozens of adaptations of Peter Pan, Neverland, Captain Hook, the Lost Boys, and more since J.M. Barrie put pen to paper.

Related: ‘Peter Pan’ Takes Broadway In a Bumbling New Direction

Captain Hook has been a romanticized antihero, the Lost Boys have been a gang of London street urchins, Neverland has been a pocket dimension, and a woman traditionally played Peter Pan on stage prior to Disney’s adaptation. While the remake is a different flavor from the classic fairytale, some wonder what part of the recently released trailer comes off as “woke.”

Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), Tinkerbell closeup
Credit: Disney

There has been some criticism regarding the diverse casting choices, such as Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell, and breaking the Lost Boys’ namesake by including a handful of female members, but this isn’t really breaking with tradition given the fluidity of the source material. There is no confirmed species depiction of fairies, and Peter Pan has been breaking gender norms since Nina Boucicault originated the role in the original production.

Related: Disney Remake Doomed After Recent Announcement

The trailer isn’t presenting a woke remake of Disney’s 1953 film, but a modern adaptation of a classic story with updated special effects and methods of visual storytelling. Even the film’s title comes from one of Barrie’s original drafts. With this in mind, critics seem to be grasping at straws to find fault with the movie before it even hits Disney+.

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

Granted, there is definitely an overwhelming sense of fatigue when it comes to Disney’s live-action remakes, but this is shaping up to be a separate adaptation altogether. That being said, the trailer does hit a few notes that fall very much in line with a more traditional, even conservative, adaptation of Peter Pan.

From the recently released trailer, viewers see Wendy, Michael, and John fly off to Neverland, Peter lose and recover his shadow, the Darling children encountering  the Lost Boys, the pirates firing the long guns at Peter and company, and Captain Hook menacing appearing over Marooner’s Rock. All these events happen in multiple versions and variations of the story, yet it’s already being referred to as “woke?”

Related: ‘Peter Pan’ Horror Movie in the Works

To truly understand the truth of the matter, we’ll have to wait till the film is officially released on April 28, 2023. However, based on what we know now and what Disney has released, it’s hard to honestly label this adaptation as a soulless and woke remake. Considering Peter Pan’s legacy is built on reinterpretations, the new film might not even count as a remake/reboot either.

What’s your favorite version of Peter Pan? Tell Inside the Magic what you think in the comments below!

in Disney, Movies

View Comments (10)