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Film / Peter Pan

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"I do believe in fairies! I do! I do!"

The 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan based on the original play. As far as film versions of Peter Pan go, it is perhaps the adaptation that stays closest to the play and the novel.

It's a familiar story: Peter Pan takes the Darling children back to Neverland to join the Lost Boys and to make Wendy their mother. The idea of Peter Pan's immortality and unending youth are explored, along with much darker and heavier themes than the animated Disney version you remember from when you were a kid, with more violence, death and heavy themes including Pan's eternal immaturity, Wendy's emerging sexuality, and the implications of childlike innocence and moral ambiguity with a sword.

Has a character sheet here.

Peter Pan provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Wendy wielding a sword against pirates, though it turns out she's more of a Curb Stomp Cushion. In her stories, she also has Cinderella swash-buckling pirates who try to steal her glass slippers.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Tiger Lily in canon is shown as The Stoic who merely glares at the pirates after they ambush her. Here, they catch her while she's trying to protect John and Michael; she delivers a "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Iroquois while spitting at Hook's feet as she's interrogated. Later, she holds her own weight when helping fend off the pirates.
    • Wendy was meant to be a mother-figure to the boys, with no fighting skills whatsoever and accepting that Peter didn't return her feelings. Here she has some sword practice and tries her best to hold her own.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Puts far more emphasis on Wendy's crush on Peter than most other versions. Other versions see it as one-sided, suggesting Peter sees her as a mother figure. This one however turns it into a mutual romance.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Smee was Irish in the book, and becomes English here.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Peter here warns Wendy that the mermaids aren't nice when they go to them for help and protects her when they try to drag her under the water. In the Disney animated film, he was laughing when they tried to drown her for the crime of appearing with Peter.
  • Age Lift: The other way around. Tiger Lily is implied to be a teen or adult in the book, since all the men of her tribe are said to want to marry her, but here she's aged down to a child, as she was in the Disney version too.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Hook.
    Hook: Old, alone.....done for.
  • Ambiguously Related: Is Aunt Millicent the aunt of George and Mary or George or Mary’s sister? You decide.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Wendy to Peter, after he tries to convince her (and himself) that whatever relationship is developing between them is only make-believe.
    Wendy: Peter, what are your real... feelings?
    Peter: Feelings?
    Wendy: [What do you feel?] Love?
    Peter: Love?
    Wendy: Love.
    Peter: I have never heard of it.
    Wendy: I think you have, Peter. I daresay you've felt it yourself, for something... or someone.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: As Hook's waning flight brings him down to the hungry crocodile, he pulls one last ditch effort to stay afloat by listing out his personal happy thoughts. He manages to delve into this trope twice.
    Hook: Ripping! Killing! Killing! Lawyers! Dentists!
    Hook: Pus! Children's blood, puppies' blood! Disease! Scabs! Kittens dashed on spikes! White death, black death, any death! A nice cup of tea!
  • Babies Ever After: Aunt Millicent gains a son in Slightly — though he's at least eight years old. The original ending would have also shown grown-up Wendy with her daughter Jane.
  • Battle Chant: In the scene where Pan finds Tinkerbell lying dead. The Darling children and the Lost Boys had been captured by Captain Hook. Hook had told them that Pan is dead, and they had no choice but to join Hook's crew, or walk the plank. With the heroic morale at its nadir, Pan's "I do believe in fairies" then belies Hook's claim, and puts fresh heart into the children to resist Hook. With the repetition of the mantra "I do believe in fairies! I do, I do!", Pan's passion and conviction became so strong that the Lost Boys took up the chant, then the Darling children joined them, then other children in London joined as well, eventually spreading to Hook's own pirate crew. This results in Tinkerbell coming back to life.
  • Berserk Button: Don't remind Hook of what Pan did to his hand if you want to keep your face intact (not cutting it off, which Hook is actually grateful for, but feeding it to the crocodile.)
  • Bittersweet Ending: Though Captain Hook and his pirates have been defeated and Neverland restored to a time of peace, Peter and Wendy must come to terms with the fact that she wants to grow up and he does not, resulting in them parting ways. The alternate ending cut out from the movie serves as a Bittersweet Ending as well, as Wendy grows up and can never fly to Neverland again, but her daughter can.
  • Blindfolded Trip: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, the boys blindfold Wendy before taking her to their hideout. She is also blindfolded when she walks the plank.
  • Body Horror:
    • Alf Mason, one of the pirates, has a face completely covered in boils.
    • Hook's stub of a hand is shown in gory detail before he even puts on his signature prosthetic. When he does, the archaic means of fastening it to him and keeping it and his wound disinfected look absolutely miserable.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Smee does this all the time.
  • Break Them by Talking: Hook tries doing this to Peter to fill him with unhappy thoughts of Wendy's departure and cause him to be unable to fly.
  • Brick Joke: The kiss/thimble confusion.
  • Broken Ace: Peter is The Ace to everyone in Neverland, but it's soon shown that he is a deeply lonely and pitiable boy who can never be truly happy.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • Aunt Millicent, an apparent cinematic replacement for Liza the maid.
    • Hook's henchmen Albino, Quang Lee and Bollard were not in the original novel.
  • Character Development: Wendy's story is essentially her fleeing from her life because she's terrified of growing up - but ultimately realising she simply wasn't ready for it at the time. But is now.
  • The Charmer: Peter, so very much. As Wendy says, "It is perfectly delightful the way you talk about girls!" And that little grin and mock-modest shrug he gives toward the end of the movie—oh, the cleverness of him!
  • Children Are Innocent: And occasionally unthinkingly violent because of it. The double-edged nature of childhood innocence, that Kids Are Cruel because Children Are Innocent and lack a mature understanding of right and wrong, was one of Barrie's main messages in the book, and it's retained here.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Well without the clapping. When Tinker Bell drinks the poison, Peter's saying "I do believe in fairies" prompts Wendy and the rest of the Lost Boys to chant the same thing. This has the effect of making the children of London do so too.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Tinker Bell, although the narration clarifies that fairies are too small to have room for more than one emotion at a time. So she's just jealous around the time the story starts.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Hook is this when fighting Peter. He tosses him in the line of fire where a cannon launches a weighted net, and waits for the boy to drown.
  • Crosscast Role: A notable aversion. Jeremy Sumpter is the first boy to play Peter in a live-action film, probably the first in a mainstream live-acting production counting the plays and musicals.
  • Culturally Sensitive Adaptation: Downplayed, as this is the first modern adaptation of the story to actually include the Indians (who were pointedly absent from Hook and Return To Neverland). Carsen Grey is likewise the first Native American actress to actually portray Tiger Lily; the character speaks Iroquois rather than broken English, and she's portrayed as the Only Sane Man when the children are captured (contrasting John and Michael's Inelegant Blubbering).
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Than the widely-known Disney version. This film cleaves more closely to the book, shocking some viewers not expecting this kind of (PG) violence.
    • Hook himself. The original play and novel's version was darker than Disney's, yes, but the movie's version goes even farther than that, making him a very effective psychological manipulator and adding sexual predator vibes in his relationship with Wendy.
  • Death by Adaptation: Starkey; in the novel, he was one of the few pirates to survive the final battle, here he's killed by Hook at the Black Castle.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Despite the 'Peter Pan' title, this adaptation (much like the original book) emphasises that this is really Wendy's story.
  • Defiant to the End: Unlike Michael and John, who beg for their lives, Tiger Lily curses out the pirates and spits on them when they catch her.
  • Disney Villain Death:
    • Hook falls from the air into the open mouth of the crocodile.
    • Cookson, Alf Mason and many other pirates also meet their ends by falling overboard during the final battle.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Wendy and the Lost Boys are all barefoot in this story, as they go around wearing their sleeping attires, but Peter does a special mark.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Wendy kisses Peter and the guy BURSTS INTO FLIGHT WITH A HUGE SMILE ON HIS FACE.
  • The Dreaded: The Crocodile in this depiction is an enormous monster of a beast. When it shows up at the Black Castle, Hook orders his men to shoot it, instead they abandon their equipment and flee and hide in terror. Given that real-life crocodiles are notoriously hard to kill even with guns and machetes (like the infamous man-eater giant Gustave), we can't blame them for their cowardly actions.
  • Empathic Environment: Neverland reacts to Peter's feelings as well as his presence; when he's upset it storms, and when he's gone it freezes into winter.
  • First Kiss: Wendy gives Peter an actual kiss before the climax, declaring it belongs to him "and always will". It's made clear it's both their firsts.
  • Fisher King: Peter is this to Neverland. The entire island effectively shuts down when Peter is away, and wakes up again when he returns.
  • For Want of a Nail: The narrator mentions that if George hadn't tied Nana up, then Peter wouldn't have dared venture into the nursery to find his shadow. Likewise, if they had been a tad faster on realizing why she crashed the important party, Peter would have lost the opportunity to spirit the kids towards Neverland.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: When Tink is dying, Peter cries for a few minutes and collapses in despair. Then he starts chanting to the sky, "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do!", calling on multiple worlds' belief to save Tinkerbell. Everyone inside and outside Neverland can hear him, and they start chanting in response. Even Mr. and Mrs. Darling do! The end result is Tink is revived, to Peter's joy, and Hook knows that Peter Pan is alive.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Wendy certainly thinks so, which is why she's willing to run away to Neverland. She changes her mind when she realizes she was only afraid of it because she wasn't ready for it. She realizes that there are benefits and good things about growing up.
  • Happily Adopted: All the Lost Boys at the end get adopted by the Darlings, and Slightly is adopted by Aunt Millicent.
  • Hates Baths: Nana the dog has to hoist Michael onto her back and throw him into the bath tub every day. Even as one of his happy thoughts one of the things he says is "...never to take a bath again...!"
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Hook's eyes are cold and evil, something that's Lampshaded several times.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Wendy, many of the Lost Boys all have the innocent variety.
  • Innocent Innuendo: After Peter loses his shadow in the room Wendy sketches a picture of him hovering over her bed. Her teacher, of course, knows nothing about Peter so she assumes it means something else...
  • Ironic Echo: After Wendy sews his shadow back on Peter says "oh, the cleverness of me" (ignoring that Wendy did the work). At the end after he has beaten the pirates Wendy says "oh, the cleverness of you".
  • Lean and Mean: Cookson (the pirate played by Bruce Spence) is skinnier than most of the other members of the crew and is one of the meanest.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Michael is about as much help at first in escaping from the pirates as you expect a toddler to be. Then the pirates accidentally slash his bear "Taddy," and Michael becomes The Berserker.
  • Like a Surgeon: After a battle, a medicine man from Tiger Lily's tribe is shown chanting while sewing up an injured victim, which is soon revealed to be Michael's teddy bear, who got slashed in the pirate confrontation. Michael sincerely thanks the doctor in question.
  • Luminescent Blush:
    • John when he gets a thank you kiss off Tiger Lily.
    • Then turned up to eleven with the kiss between Peter and Wendy. "Pan, you're PINK"
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Jason Isaacs as Captain Hook is almost as hot as (if not even hotter than) pirate captain Jack Sparrow himself. Take a look! He may be the only live-action Hook to go shirtless in a scene. Not that anyone's complaining.
    • Jeremy Sumpter as Peter Pan, as he's quite the Pretty Boy. He's aged up to a teenager, rather than the toddler he is in the original stories.
  • Mood Lighting: The film uses this a lot in the Neverland sequences, and even quite a bit in London.
  • Motivational Kiss:
    • Peter is nearly defeated by Hook until he gets one from Wendy.
    • Tiger Lily also gives one to John.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • To the Disney movie: the Indians capturing and binding Michael's bear as if it's a human being, Peter rescuing Wendy from the plank and the superstitious pirates going crazy because they don't hear a splash.
    • When cornered by the crocodile at Black Castle, Hook screams "SMEEEEEE!", which is a direct take from the Disney movie rather than the original play and book.
    • Possibly one to the anime series (the John/Tiger Lily Ship Tease).
    • Wendy deciding on "Red-Handed Jill" as her pirate name; in the original novel and play, John was offered a position with the crew and wanted to be called Red-Handed Jack.
    • Aunt Millicent adopting Slightly was taken from the play, where the housekeeper Liza adopts him when he arrives late.
  • Narrator All Along: The original ending would have done this, revealing that the narrator was Wendy all grown up. The final ending only implies it.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The crocodile which ate Hook's hand pays a surprise visit when he tries to set a trap for Peter.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Hook has shades of this at times with both Peter and Wendy, to the point where some critics were creeped out. Jason Isaacs has mentioned in interviews how incredibly uncomfortable some of that was to portray.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: While his allies and enemies are all British, Jeremy Sumpter, who plays Peter Pan himself, keeps his natural American dialect, but has a little bit of British twang in some scenes that you might even mistake him for a Brit trying his best to hide the accent!
  • Oblivious to Love: Played slightly differently than in the novel; Peter can feel love; he's just too immature to allow himself to or admit it if/when he does.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Nana is normally well-behaved and accepts George's arbitrary rules without a fuss. When she shows up at the party after being tied up in the yard, barking frantically at her owners, George immediately realizes that something is wrong at home. Sure enough, it's revealed that the children all vanish.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Very much so from the Disney movie. They try to drown people in both films, but in Disney's they're beautiful sassy teenagers whose drowning attempts are "just for fun". They look downright creepy in this one, speak with these strange clicking sounds, and their attempt to drown someone is not played for laughs. This makes them much more like the mermaids in the book and especially in the version of the musical containing the Marooner's Rock scene.
  • Pajama-Clad Hero: Heroes—the Darling children all go to Neverland in their PJ's, and remain in them throughout the whole adventure.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Hook sees Wendy and Peter dancing in the air, oblivious to his and Tinkerbell's presence. Instead of attacking, he actually sits and watches it while commiserating with Tink that Pan is ignoring them. It takes him a few minutes to conspire with Tink to hatch a plan so as to separate Wendy and Peter.
    • Hook allows Wendy to say goodbye and give a "thimble" to Peter before he kills him. This end up being his downfall.
  • Pirate Girl: Wendy considers an offer to be a pirate on Hook's ship, though she eventually turns it down after Hook catches her and the boys.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • That we see, at least. Hook seems single-mindedly obsessed with killing Peter, but beyond that don't seem to do much. In the book it's implied they make raids on the Indians at times, but there's really not a lot in Neverland for them to do.
    • It's hinted by Hook's declaration that they "sail off at dawn" upon believing that Peter is dead, that they don't do anything because they are so single-mindedly obsessed with killing Peter.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Tiger Lily shares a kiss with John in this version, while in the original it was hinted she had an unrequited crush on Peter.
  • The Power of Love: Wendy's kiss gives Peter a Heroic Second Wind in the climactic battle with Hook.
  • Silent Snarker: Tiger Lily only speaks once in the film, but spends the rest of her screen time rolling her eyes and expressing snark silently.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Heel–Face Revolving Door is not in place here and neither is Screw the Money, I Have Rules!. When Hook "invites" Wendy to dinner and offers to make her a pirate, she does actually consider it after Peter spurned her; her only request is that she doesn't want to murder anyone or steal. She taunts Peter that she's Redhanded Jill and playfully fences with him; the end result is they hurt each other's feelings while the Lost Boys whisper that "Mother and Father" are fighting.
  • Sympathy for the Hero:
    • Hook spirits Wendy off to his ship...and has a civil dinner with her. They talk about how her relationship with Peter is going, and if she enjoys being a "mother" to the boys. Hook seems sympathetic about how Wendy doesn't want to grow up and how Peter doesn't want to return her feelings, offering that she could be a pirate on his ship. Wendy actually considers it and tries being a storyteller. While Hook later ruins this by following Wendy to the Lost Boys' hideout after letting her go, he keeps the offer standing as she's tied to the mast and genuinely felt bad for her.
    • Hook seems to genuinely relate to Peter for a moment during his "Break Them by Talking" lecture when he predicts that Pan will die alone and unloved... just like Hook.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Peter briefly dips his hand in it, making splashes, as they arrive in Neverland. Or so it appears; it's actually just a fun sight gag created by the stars reflecting on the ocean surrounding Neverland
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Peter and Wendy become so in this adaptation. Wendy is growing up, already beginning puberty, and realises that her attraction to Peter is romantic in nature. Peter is implied to feel the same way, but either can't process it or won't. He'll never grow up, while Wendy will, and thus they can't be together.
  • Team Mom: Wendy, obviously, is brought the Neverland to act as the mother of the Lost Boys. She is the one who realises that they're starting to forget their parents back home.
  • Kid Wasteland: The Lost Boys. Even when someone is brought in to take care of them, it's another (somewhat older) kid.
  • Talking in Your Sleep:
    • In the "I do believe in fairies" scene, several children are heard whispering the eponymous phrase in their sleep.
    • Earlier, Peter himself repeatedly mutters about not wanting to take medicine while sleeping.
  • Teens Are Short: Jeremy Sumpter went through such a growth spurt during filming that Wendy's bedroom window had to be altered a few times to keep continuity.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: In the original ending we would have Rachel Hurd Wood turn into Saffron Burrows playing older Wendy.
  • Translation: "Yes":
    • When Smee is helping Captain Hook "interview" Tiger Lily, her (untitled) invective goes on forever. Smee's translation, much less. "...she says sorry, but no."
    • Also counts as Tactful Translation, since it's obvious that Tiger Lily is not being nearly as polite as Smee's translation. Her actress gives a more accurate translation in one of the DVD extras: she says "You are the life-stealer. You are evil. You smell bad. You smell of bear-poop. You are many moons old and ugly" in Iroquois.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Hook suffers one big time once Peter gains the upperhand during their final duel. It gets even worse when the crocodile shows up to devour him, pushing the panicked Hook to desperately spout his "happy thoughts" in an effort to maintain his flight. When he finally loses hope, he accepts his imminent demise and defeatedly drops into the croc's mouth.
  • Waking Non Sequitur:
  • We Can Rule Together: Hook offers Wendy a job on his ship as a storyteller, making her the pirate "Redhanded Jill". Wendy actually considers it after Peter spurned her and tells a story to the pirates, much to their delight. Of course, Hook's conversation with her makes her realize that she and her brothers left their parents, and they need to go back. When Hook captures her and the Lost Boys and tells her the offer is open, Wendy spitefully says she's rather die since he tried to kill Peter.
  • Xenafication:
    • In-universe example. Wendy's version of Cinderella swashbuckles with pirates who steal her glass slippers and threatens to cut down anyone who calls her "girly". Also, when Hook mocks stories like Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty as "love stories", Wendy insists they are "adventures".
    • Wendy herself qualifies, actually becoming skilled at sword fighting in this version, even clashing with Peter himself on one occasion. Downplayed in that Peter disarms her fairly easily, she's a Curb Stomp Cushion against a pirate while rescuing her brothers, and she has no formal training.
  • Yandere: Tinkerbell obviously. But the narrator stresses that "fairies are so small they only have room for one feeling at a time". So Tinkerbell hovers between this and a Tsundere.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Peter Pan 2003


Peter and Hook

Peter Pan and Captain James Hook engage in a duel to the death.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DuelToTheDeath

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