The rivalry between eternal child Peter Pan and notorious pirate Captain Hook burns with the fire of the fiercest sibling rivalry, which is why the upcoming Neverland actually kind of makes sense. That film will be an origin story for Peter and Hook, in which the two of them are brothers who start out as allies only to eventually become enemies – unlike Joe Wright’s Batman Begins-style treatment of J.M. Barrie’s children’s story, Pan, which looks to hit theaters first.
With Hook not yet a villain in Wright’s film, however temporarily, there’s a gap in the narrative for a gruff, curmudgeonly pirate antagonist, and Jason Fuchs’ script for Pan places real-life pirate Edward Teach (AKA Blackbeard) in that role. Javier Bardem (Skyfall) was recently in talks to play the lead bad guy, but has apparently declined the offer.
Luckily Hollywood has no shortage of growly, hirsute actors and next in line is X-Men star Hugh Jackman, whom Variety reports is currently in negotiations to play Blackbeard and seems to be near to closing a deal. Other characters currently being cast are Hook (Ryan Gosling has been considered for this role) – who will “serve as Pan’s close ally before turning bad” - and Tiger Lily, for whom the studio is seeking an actor in her 20s.
According to the synopsis, Pan is all about Peter’s adventures upon first arriving in Neverland as a young orphan. He fights to rescue the Natives from the oppressive yoke of Blackbeard and his men, eventually becoming a hero of the magical island. The most recent major adaptation of “Peter Pan” was the 2003 version, which was directed by P.J. Hogan and was a rather more traditional interpretation of the story than what Wright is planning.
Jackman isn’t known for playing villain roles, though Wolverine would probably qualify as an anti-hero, which is why it would be interesting to see him play a full-blown baddie. There’s currently a lot of buzz around his most recent film, Prisoners, in which Jackman plays a man desperately trying to find his missing daughter. Alongside more serious roles, he’s also been known to dip his toes into family-oriented movies like Happy Feet and Rise of the Guardians.
This sounds like an inspired casting choice, so here’s hoping that negotiations between Warner Bros. and Jackman go well. Failing that, perhaps Ian McShane could be tempted back to the role.
Pan opens in 2D and 3D theaters on June 26th, 2015.