Mary Poppins Returns is the long-awaited (as in, 54 years by the time the movie is released) sequel to Disney’s smash musical hit, Mary Poppins. Though it won’t hit screens until 2018, the buzz surrounding the movie is building at a rapid rate as we learn more about the film’s cast and plot lines. Mary Poppins notoriously only goes to, and stays with, a family as long as they need her, and this time she has returned to the Banks children, Jane and Michael, who are now adults. Set in Depression-era London, which was the time setting for all of P.L. Travers’ original Mary Poppins stories, the film will pick up when Mary Poppins visits the Banks children after they suffer a personal tragedy.
Mary Poppins will be played by Emily Blunt, a popular casting choice by all accounts, while Hamilton writer and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, will take on the role of Jack, a lamp-lighter (similar to the role of Bert played by Dick Van Dyke in the original). Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray) are contributing the songs/score for the film.
Casting for further roles is also underway, with THR reporting that Ben Whishaw is in talks to play Michael Banks. Whishaw has been a steady yet impressive presence on the big screen in recent years, most noted for his role as Q in the James Bond franchise, where he has appeared in Skyfall and Spectre. The actor has also appeared in The Danish Girl and voiced Paddington Bear, as well as more than proving his capabilities in the BBC miniseries London Spy.
Mary Poppins Returns will be under much scrutiny throughout its journey to the big screen, not to mention when the film itself is actually released. Directed by Rob Marshall (Into the Woods), so far it seems as though all is going well; the casting that is set already is viewed favorably, as is the potential addition of Whishaw. Marshall himself delivered a strong enough musical film with Into the Woods; though there were flaws, the movie certainly showcased Blunt’s abilities well and was an enjoyable piece of viewing.
But Mary Poppins is iconic, and any sequel will need to recapture that precious magic that was achieved the first time around. Though it’s true that we all look back through rose-tinted glasses, there’s no denying that Mary Poppins is still a film beloved by nearly everyone, and its central performances and its score have more than stood the test of time. Even Van Dyke’s atrocious cockney accent has a charm all of its own, and can be forgiven because of the cheeky chappie persona he delivers.
Mary Poppins Returns can get everything right; casting, score, plot, direction…. But there will still be those seeking to tear it down just because it’s not the same as the original. That said, audiences should, and hopefully will, be willing to embrace a new movie that seeks to bring these much loved characters back to our screens.
Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 25, 2018.