Much like many a fairy tale world explored on Once Upon a Time, Neverland has been done before. Co-creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis claim Peter Pan will not be the “lovely, cuddly shadow we remember,” but what will their Neverland look like? Here's a look at five recent incarnations of the fairy tale island. Will OUAT’s Neverland have anything in common with them?
Disney's Peter Pan, 1953
It is impossible to discuss Neverland without calling to mind Disney's interpretation of the fabled isle. Disney's Peter Pan came out in 1953 and for many an American is the quintessential vision of Neverland: a dream-like setting where the sun always shines and good always wins out over evil. It also happens to be animated, which makes it somewhat hard to compare to OUAT's upcoming interpretation. Still, we think it's going to be hard to branch out from this iconic Neverland, especially given that – at its heart – that same principle of good winning out over evil also rests at the heart of OUAT.
Ru-fi-o! Ru-fi-o! Unfortunately, it seems that Rufio, the ruffian leader of the Lost Boys in this incarnation, will not be appearing in OUAT, but we'll try to temper our disappointment as we're sure to meet other fantastical characters in his stead. Steven Spielberg's Hook told the story of a grown-up Peter returning to Neverland to rescue his children and reclaim his youth, and it was a lot of fun. One of the most memorable scenes takes place in the den of the Lost Boys where Rufio & Co. engage in an epic food fight. As much as we’re looking for a fresh take on Neverland, we're kind of hope OUAT will pay homage to that scene. Henry could use a little unchecked frivolity right about now!
Adam and Eddy will presumably decide to stay away from the Hook twist, which makes their insistence that Neal is not Peter Pan key. Given the evidence that Henry may be kidnapped in the Season 2 finale and brought to Neverland, if Neal followed, this premise would mirror Hook's quite closely.
Peter Pan Live Action Film, 2003
Another filmic ode to Peter Pan was released in 2003 that, for the first time in film or stage (save for a Russian adaptation) featuring a boy in the title role. It followed the Disney version’s example in the straight take it took of the story, but with the obvious difference of being live action rather than animated. We have to admit that the Wendy in OUAT reminds us quite a bit of Rachel Hurd Wood’s portrayal in this film. Both OUAT andPeter Pan keep the initial focus almost singularly on Wendy as the gateway character to the world of Neverland. In the ten-minute preview for Sunday's episode (Season 2, Episode 21: “Second Star to the Right”), Wendy catches Bae eating bread off of the Darling table and offers it to him. The shot from the promo showing Wendy being tugged towards Neverland (presumably by Peter) reminds us visually, in some capacity, of the gorgeous window scene from the 2003 film.
Finding Neverland, 2004
The 2004 Johnny Depp film, Finding Neverland, is unique on this list because it does not follow the life of Peter or Wendy, but rather author J.M. Barrie while he was writing the initial play. We think it could have something in common with OUAT, though, as there are duals worlds and characters: The boys Barrie spends his time with have alter egos of sorts in the play, while the Kensington Park of Barrie's London melds into the Neverland it helped inspire. The film also focuses on the family drama that Barrie, a married man, spending time with a widowed woman and her four sons creates. No one knows family drama like OUAT!
Neverland Miniseries, 2011
One of the most recent adaptations of the Peter Pan story came in 2011 with a Syfy mini-series. Neverland explored how Peter Pan and Hook came to know each other in 1906 London, and how they ended up in Neverland where their relationship changed from friends to enemies. The series had a badass cast, including Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), Anna Friel, Rhys Ifans, and Keira Knightley (as the voice of Tinker Bell), but was a bit of a clunker. The mini-series deviates from its source material quite a bit, and — for that reason — may end up having the most in common with OUAT’s interpretation (though, hopefully, not in the clunk department).
What is your favorite version of Neverland? What would you like to see OUAT do with their Neverland that hasn't been done before? Let us know in the comments below!
Catch the next episode of Once Upon a Time on Sunday, May 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.