With their catchy melodies and optimistic outlooks, Disney movies rarely fail to uplift audiences of adults and kids alike. It's no secret that much of their source material is decidedly darker than the studio's finished product, and those alterations make a lot of sense. Who wouldn't rather listen to "You Can Fly!" with their kids instead of having a heavy conversation about morality?
Still, now that I'm a bit older with a lifelong appreciation for all things Disney, I like to look back at the original stories that inspired the magic. In J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, there's definitely a much different approach the character of Peter and his treatment of the Lost Boys, which drastically changes everything I've ever known about this story.
Read on for an unexpectedly serious look at the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up from the man who created him. Obviously, there are book spoilers abound, so read ahead at your own risk!
Despite living in Neverland, the lost boys do age
That's why the play that's based on the book is called Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, drawing a distinction between Pan and his followers.
The group always consists of young boys due to very non-magical causes
If they don't die on one of their many dangerous adventures, Peter "thins them out."
While this is left ambiguous, the implication is pretty devastating
Peter finds some way to kill them off when "they seem to be growing up." According to Barrie, this allows a steady flow and the permanent presence of children without Neverland getting overpopulated. Peter even "trims" them down when they can't fit in their holes to the treehouse.