Fly to Neverland With Peter Pan & Learn the History of the Boy Who Never Grew Up

PETER PAN, Michael Darling, John Darling, Wendy Darling, Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, 1953
Disney/Everett Collection

In 2023 Disney+ released a brand-new live-action Peter Pan film called Peter Pan & Wendy. There have been many adaptations of the beloved character that was first introduced in 1904 by J.M. Barrie, who reportedly based the character on his brother who sadly died just before his 14th birthday. The story of Peter Pan came out in 1911 with the novel Peter and Wendy, later called Peter Pan and Wendy. Before we talk about all of the versions of Peter Pan, let’s quickly go over the movie that flew into Disney+. The title references how the film aims to focus on Wendy Darling as a co-protagonist with Peter Pan instead of a side character like many of the films. The plot is the same one you know and love, with Peter meeting the Darling siblings in their room and heading off on an adventure to Neverland and a big confrontation with Captain Hook (Jude Law).

PETER PAN & WENDY, (aka PETER PAN AND WENDY), from left: Alexander Molony as Peter Pan, Ever Anderson, Joshua Pickering, Jacobi Jupe, 2023.

Disney+/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Disney+ version stars Alexander Molony as Peter and Ever Anderson as Wendy. Yara Shahidi sparkles as Tinker Bell while Josh Pickering plays John Darling and Alyssa Wapanatâhk plays a modernized version of Tiger Lily. The other difference in the film is that the focus is on the incredible visuals of Neverland and London. Of course, this isn’t the first Peter Pan film but one of many. The story began as a novel and has also been portrayed on stage, with Peter often being portrayed by petite adult women.

PETER PAN, Betty Bronson, 1924

Everett Collection

Peter Pan first appeared on screen in the 1924 silent film Peter Pan, starring Betty Bronson (see photo above). Disney acquired the character and released the animated classic in 1953 and the sequel film Return to Never Land in 2002. The first film was hugely popular and sparked the iconic Disney attraction Peter Pan’s Flight, located at Disneyland, Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland and remains one of the most popular rides in the theme parks. Peter Pan is often seen roaming around the parks or doing meet-and-greets. A year after the 1953 Disney film, an original Broadway production of Peter Pan began starring Mary Martin as Peter. The Broadway play was televised and brought back to Broadway over the years with notable actresses Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby portraying Peter.

PETER PAN, Mary Martin, 1960 TV special.

Everett Collection

In 1991, the film took on a different spin as Robin Williams portrayed the role of Peter Pan in the live-action film Hook, also starring Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film focuses on an adult version of Peter who has forgotten the magic of his childhood. His old enemy Captain Hook kidnaps his children and he is forced to return to Neverland to save them, in the process getting rid of his workaholic ways and regaining the love of his family. Several years later in 2003, Jeremy Sumpter portrayed Peter in a live-action film more reminiscent of the original story.

HOOK, Robin Williams, 1991

Everett Collection

Music artists have also been inspired by Peter Pan and the childhood tale. Singer-songwriter Ruth B. was inspired by the character’s appearance in the show Once Upon a Time for her song “Lost Boy,” while ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad recorded the song “Peter Pan” by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus in 1969. The Jonas Brothers (“Fly With Me”), Kelsea Ballerini (“Peter Pan”), and Taylor Swift (“Cardigan”) have even used references in some of their top pop and/or country hits.

What is your favorite version of Peter Pan?

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August 2021

Celebrate the magical world of Disney collectibles

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