Syfy's latest stab at updating the Peter Pan story, Neverland, reminded us how much this whole tale needs to be retired. Or rebooted beyond recognition. Here are our outrageous suggestions for making a truly modern Peter Pan — they're just so crazy they might work!
Illustration by chemicalorange.
1. Retire the "Injuns." Now. Calling them "Indians" or "Native Americans" only makes us want to stab our faces even more. Replace them with a tribe of Amish people or ninjas or both. Tiger Lily can be the most badass Amish ninja the world has ever seen.
2. Make Captain Hook sexy, but not in a creepy way. No weird chemistry with underage Wendy. No makeup and strange nose prosthetics. He should be played by Nathan Fillion or Michael Fassbender, and no puffy sleeves should be involved.
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3. Let's bring piracy into the 21st century, people. Hook's pirate ship should be a high-tech submarine server farm where he's storing thousands of petabytes of pirated music and movies. He's declared war on the corrupt entertainment industry, which packages, sells, and corrupts the dreams that once made childhood magical. Laser fight between Hook and goons from the MPAA and the RIAA wearing crocodile-skin armor?
4. Make Peter Pan a bad guy. We are sick of Peter and his Lost Boys as lovable child-men, especially when we know that Peter is a psychopathic gang leader who is smuggling fairy dust drugs from Never Land into Brixton. When he's fingered by local cops, he tells them about Hook's operation so that they'll let him go.
5. Tinkerbell is a cyborg surveillance bug. She somehow escaped from police control and has devoted her life to stopping Peter.
6. Taking a page from urban fantasy, Never Land should be a city modeled on Dubai. It's full of glimmering towers and psychedelic malls. Surrounded by impossibly blue seas, artificial islands, and deserts full of lost cities, it's a mix of civilizations from the past and future. It should of course be designed by Weta Digital, the studio that brought Middle Earth to life in the Lord of the Rings series.
7. Accentuate the weirdness. One of the best modern adaptations of the Peter Pan story is the stage play Peter and Wendy, which recreates the tale of the lost boy and the young woman who cares for him using Victorian-style marionettes. The story focuses more on the adults around Peter and Wendy, and the awfulness of watching children grow up. Any modern adaptation should pay attention to this play and try to capture its haunting imagery.
8. Everyone Peter touches falls from grace. Wendy is a fairy dust-addicted drug mule for Peter and his gang. Hook is trying to save her.
9. Childhood is a horror show. The message of the original Peter Pan was that childhood is a wonderful (albeit dangerous) place of fantasy adventure. But the movie Finding Neverland has completely ruined our ability to believe in that. We can't scrub from our minds Johnny Depp's portrayal of playwright J.M. Barrie's creepy, inappropriate relationship with the real-life Peter, who was pretty much scarred for life after being turned into the poster boy for childish innocence. So don't even try to sell us on that "childhood is great" bullshit. Let's see a movie that shows us how childhood is a time when you're controlled by capricious adults, manipulated by the media without any filters over your credulity, and your imagination is mined for product ideas. That's why only a pirate can be our hero - he steals childhood dreams back from Hollywood.
10. Aim at grownups. The only way to truly modernize Peter Pan is to make it a story for adults. Leave Hunger Games and Twilight for the kids. We want something ambiguous and dark.
Feel free to use any or all of these ideas for your next Peter Pan story.