Kieran here. In the age of remakes, re-imaginings and two Spiderman reboots in less than five years, the announcement that Disney is developing a new musical featuring Mary Poppins actually feels kind of refreshing. Revisiting a character from a live-action musical? And a female character at that? I say "kind of refreshing" because it still feels like a very strange project this far out. It's supposedly set twenty years after the events of Mary Poppins, which immediately had me imagining something darker in tone, not unlike Return to Oz. How does the Banks family fare two decades after the wind changed and Mary bid them adieu? This is all speculative of course. No plot details have been released and only a few key crew members have been announced. Rob Marshall is slated to direct and the script is being penned by David Magee (Finding Neverland and Life of Pi).
How do I put this diplomatically...Can we stop giving every live-action musical (unfortunately few and far between at this point) to Rob Marshall? It seems knee-jerk and lazy every time a musical is announced with Marshall at the helm. I liked Chicago quite a bit, but it's been a pretty steep decline since then. He seems to direct screen musicals with the desire to make them palatable for modern audiences rather than leaning into the medium and truly working well within it. Remember that odd "Musical for People who Hate Musicals" campaign during Chicago's Oscar run? Or that first Into the Woods trailer where no one was singing? Or how over half of the musical numbers were cut out of Nine and the rest were sung on a stage for no reason? It's time to give another director a chance. Perhaps someone with a little less internalized musical self-hatred (Yes, I just made that term up). Musicals are a tough medium with a specific audience. They need a director who will embrace their heightened theatrics and overt sentimentality without pandering to 21st century audiences who aren't accustomed.
For the role of Mary herself, no one is officially attached as of yet, though Anne Hathaway's name is certainly being thrown around. A lot. I think she'd be a fine, more than worthy choice. I was relieved, as someone who likes Anne Hathaway and doesn't understand why I'm not supposed to, when it seemed that she wouldn't be doing that Judy Garland biopic that was in development a while back. Should she play Mary, I do worry about the inexplicably pilloried actress having an even larger target on her back by stepping into such an iconic part. Other names being tossed around are pretty much the ones you'd expect. Any young actress who's been in a musical or shown vocal talent.
Who would you like to see in the role of the magical singing nanny? Discuss in the comments.