Okay, Hollywood, you can jump ship on this thing right now. As our own Samantha Wilson pointed out just last week with the news that Jon Favreau might be remaking The Jungle Book, Hollywood’s current obsession with giving origin stories to well-tread material is getting just a little bit out of control, especially when it comes to bringing baddies back to the screen (see Maleficent, the new Cinderella, and that recently announced Cruella De Vil feature for proof positive). But it’s not just bad guys that studios and filmmakers want to illuminate – it’s classic heroes, too, like the J.M. Barrie-created Peter Pan, who continues to be saddled with rumors of origin story films that are going for some very different things, all of which are entirely unnecessary. With the announcement of a possible eighth new Peter Pan tale, however, we need to make a stand. No more Peter Pan origin stories. None of them. Not even the one with Channing Tatum’s involvement.
Deadline Hollywood reports that director Joe Wright is currently negotiating to direct Pan (not to be confused with two other versions of the story also titled Pan). The film is described as – ding ding! – an origin story as conceived of by screenwriter Jason Fuchs. This one reportedly centers on “ an orphan [who] is taken to the magical world of Neverland, where he becomes the savior of the natives and leads a rebellion against the evil pirates.” THR adds that the film “would give Pan the Batman Begins treatment,” a statement so horrifying that its existence alone should cancel the project.
Fortunately, it seems as if the bloom might be off the rose when it comes to Pan-centric outings (at least, Wright’s project notwithstanding), as the true apex of Pan origin insanity was way back in 2011 and only of those has so far come to fruition. Here’s hoping that this new project doesn’t reignite interest in the rest of them.
Russ Fischer lovingly (ha!) detailed the first five new Pan projects over at /Film back in March of 2011, when they then included:
The.Never.Land, a spec script by John Swetnam, which “tells the story of Wendy and the forever-young boy with a Twilight-ish spin.”
Peter Pan, a pitch by producer Jeff Rake that features “a Pan family adventure concept.”
Pan, written by Billy Ray with Channing Tatum attached, which “reimagines the classic 1904 stage play (and later novel) by J.M. Barrie with the boy and the dastardly Captain Hook as brothers.”
Neverland, a spec script by Aaron Henry and Kirk Kjeldsen in which “Pan [is] recast as a villain abducting London’s children, while Hook, the hero, must stop him.”
Neverland, a Syfy miniseries that is a prequel of sorts to Peter Pan. The cast includes Rhys Ifans, Anna Friel, Bob Hoskins, Charles Dance, Raoul Trujillo and Charlie Rowe, and Keira Knightley.
Of that group, only the Syfy miniseries made it to the screen, thanks to a 2011 two-parter that aired in December of that year.
In May of 2011, Aaron Eckhart joined up with Pan (not to be confused with the Billy Ray Pan or the similarly-sounding Henry/Kjeldsen Neverland or Wright’s new project), a darker take on the Peter Pan mythos that imagines that Captain Hook (Eckhart) is the hero of the story (a haunter former police detective, naturally) and the child-snatching Pan was the true baddie (admittedly, Peter does sound like kind of a nut if you ever try to explain the tale to a newbie).
While that film is not exactly an origin story, it sure sounds like it would need to do some back-in-time explaining to really work – just what made Peter kidnap? – and while it’s the most intriguing of the Pan projects, it’s also a nifty way to make a crime film with a built in audience. That film is still in development despite being announced so long ago, but it’s currently unclear which of the 2011 cast (which also included AnnaSophia Robb as an escaped Wendy) is still in place.
Additionally, Gary Ross is set to direct Disney’s YA adaptation of Peter and the Starcatchers, a big screen take on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s 2004 book of the same name. That one imagines young Peter and the pirate-y journey that led to the formation of Neverland as we know it.
Wright is a great filmmaker who is adept at adapting – his Pride & Prejudice and Atonement are true standouts of the literary genre, and his Anna Karenina (which I was not a fan of, though I do appreciate parts of) demonstrates his interest in putting his own fresh spin on things – but there isn’t another mini-genre out there nearly as saturated as Peter Pan revisionist history. It’s a creative wasteland that seems to constantly inspire new ideas that never, ever come to fruition. Why get involved with that? Why give an origin to a beloved hero of classic literature that no one else feels is in desperate need of a Batman Begins-styled (shudder) first story? Let’s try something new, okay? At least, isn’t there another classic fairy tale that someone feels needs a newly criminal spin?