Peter Pan will soon be flying back into theaters, but not in the way you might expect. Two projects that re-imagine J.M. Barrie’s beloved story – both tentatively titled Pan – are being actively developed; one of them explores the origins of the character, and the other mixes up things up by turning Peter into the dangerous villain – and Hook into the only man who can stop Pan’s reign of terror.
To clarify: the Pan movie in question refashions Barrie’s fantastical tale as a modern-day detective murder mystery where Peter Pan is literally “the boy who never grew up” – that is, a killer with a youthful appearance who prefers to kidnap children.
EW has confirmed that Aaron Eckhart (Battle: Los Angeles, The Dark Knight) has been cast in Pan as Hook, a former detective who takes on the task of hunting down the diabolical titular killer. Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) will play Smee, a member of the police force and Hook’s only ally. Soul Surfer star AnnaSophia Robb is also set to appear in the film as Pan’s sole surviving (former) victim.
The indie project is gearing up to begin filming this fall overseas in Europe, marking the feature-length directorial debut of visual effects animator Ben Hibon – a fellow better known to the masses as the man who designed the macabre “Tale of the Three Brothers” animated sequence in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.
A number of the upcoming projects being sold as “re-imaginings” of classic stories don’t read so much like they truly re-envision the source material – instead, they seem to be merely changing certain details about the plot and characters, so as to better resonate with contemporary moviegoers (see next year’s two Snow White films). Pan, by comparison, sounds like it truly re-interprets Barrie’s famous tale in a much more sinister and unnerving light (for better or for worse).
Eckhart rarely turns in a bad performance and he should do well playing a variation on the standard Noirish investigator character archetype; likewise, Bean seems a nice match to star in the film as a decent but street-smart cop version of Smee opposite Eckhart’s Hook – and together, they fight crime!
On a more serious note: while it’s always irritating when Hollywood (in essence) metaphorically tramples all over a story that most everyone has fond memories of, Pan seems different enough from Barrie’s source material and could possibly even stand on its own. It’s also not the most adult-themed reworking of the Peter Pan story (a title that still belongs to Alan Moore’s “Lost Girls”). Take all that as you will.
We’ll keep you posted on the status of Pan as more information is released.