[UPDATE: The first Pan posters have been released online.]
Putting a new spin on a beloved property is an inherently risky proposition. Viewers will always hold onto their feelings toward the original version of said property, or at least whatever version they’re most familiar with; that’s a prime example what we call nostalgia, or at least fan loyalty. So give Joe Wright (Hanna, Anna Karenina) a degree of kudos for taking on Pan, Warner Bros.’ 2015 reinterpretation of J.M. Barrie’s long-celebrated fantasy of eternal childhood.
Wright has quite the responsibility on his hands, both to the studio and to Barrie’s source material: take a yarn that’s a century and change old, and find a new way into its diegesis. How best to tell the story of Peter Pan afresh? Make it into an origin story. The origin story is an archetype that’s slowly gained traction over the last decade or so – start with Batman Begins, continue with The Amazing Spider-Man, and end with movies ranging from this year’s RoboCop reboot to the upcoming Transporter reboot.
But origin story or no, Wright is a strong craftsman with a sharp eye for visuals (and, if Hanna tells us anything, he knows his way around modern fairy tales). He should, in other words, be able to bring something interesting to the table with Pan. So the small picture gallery EW has put online (alongside some plot details) as a preview of Wright’s efforts is a welcome window into his vision of Neverland, which is nothing if not interesting.
The most oft-repeated image here is that of Hugh Jackman in his full Blackbeard regalia; we’ve seen his hirsute, smooth-domed visage before, but here he’s in costume and in character. Of the rest, there’s a glimpse of Blackbeard’s ship, Jackman menacing Levi Miller‘s titular hero, and an individual close-up of Miller. Scroll down to mull ’em over for yourself:
UPDATE: The first two official Pan character posters – featuring Jackman’s Blackbeard and Miller’s Pan, respectively – have now been made available online for viewing by Warner Bros. Have a look below, and see what you make of them:
Jackman looks appropriately flamboyantly evil (particularly in the last shot), but that wig he’s rocking might be the baddest thing about him. It’s, well, it’s very obviously a hairpiece, though maybe there’s a purpose to its clear-cut artifice – it’s a running gag, perhaps, or there could be some random story detail explaining why he wears it. Maybe this Blackbeard is secretly vain, and spends hours preening when he’s not busy kidnapping orphans while they slumber.
That, by the by, is the new basic conceit Pan brings to the table, and how Peter himself ends up crossing paths with Blackbeard. Hook, too, who happens to befriend Peter despite the fact that the once and future amputee works aboard Blackbeard’s airborne vessel (which looks like it flew right into frame from the set of Matthew Vaughn’s Stardust). Garret Hedlund, according to EW, will be playing Hook in the film as a swashbuckling riff on Indiana Jones.
You can check out Garrett Hedlund as young Hook in the Pan poster below, followed by the first one-sheet with Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Pan‘s version of Tiger Lily (who won’t be a Native American in this rendition of the story):
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So this isn’t going to be the Peter Pan we all grew up on; instead it’s going to be a contemporary attempt at re-calibrating the tale’s most essential elements. Doesn’t seem all that much like Peter Pan at a glance, does it? Could be that all of Wrights tinkering works out for the better, but it’s early to say.
Pan arrives in US theaters July 17th, 2015.