I think a lot about prequels. How does the format of a prequel influence the sort of stories that can be told, the sorts of values that can be explored, and the sorts of intuitions that we can nurture? Does knowing how the story must end influence the way we judge the characters?
Pan, with Hugh Jackman as Captain Blackbeard and Rooney Mara as Tiger-Lily, gives us absolutely nothing. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d suspect that somebody had an unworkable script lying around and thought that placing it within the world of an established franchise would make it marketable. I call this the Troy approach.
J.M. Barrie’s original play (later, novel) are surprisingly complex beasts. Marred by some next level racist nonsense about ‘Picaninnies’, the play is as relevant today as ever: grown men trapped by their fragile sense of self, desperately trying to shirk adult responsibilities, and trying to negotiate their relationship with women. The surprising part about revisiting the original is the extremely awkward relationship between Peter and Wendy, the latter coerced into the role of ‘girlfriend as mother-figure’.
None of that complexity is to be found in Pan, which aims to be a prequel to Peter Pan.