'Mary Poppins Returns': Is Mary Poppins a Witch?
And more important, is she a good witch or an evil one?
Mary Poppins is an icon. The children’s book character turned Disney legend even got her own Simpsons parody with a full episode featuring Shary Bobbins, who taught Bart and Lisa to do a “half-assed job” cleaning their room before floating away and promptly getting sucked into an airplane turbine. Like we said: Icon.
But what is Mary Poppins? She’s clearly got some sort of magic powers. She can fly, she can manipulate reality, and her purse somehow has enough room for large objects (a full-sized floor lamp in the original, and a large toy ship in the new sequel). The most obvious answer, and the one that makes the most sense, is that she’s a witch.
Mary Poppins being a witch explains her powers, along with why she seemingly hasn’t aged a day in the new movie set decades after the original. In a 2014 article, former Inverser Ryan Britt even argued that Mary Poppins is literally casting spells with her songs. This certainly makes sense considering that every time Poppins sings, weird things start to happen.
When we asked Oscar-winning makeup artist Peter King, who worked on Mary Poppins Returns, if the movie’s hero is a witch, he admitted that something is clearly up with Poppins, but couldn’t decide if she qualified as a witch.
“Mary Poppins is sort of an enigma in terms of being a witch,” King tells Inverse. “She‘s like your conscience arriving and sitting on your shoulder to make sure you’re well behaved, but at the same time, she’s got that lovely wicked grin that says she likes fun but would never admit it. She comes with all those powers, but only for good.”
King’s approach to the movie’s makeup may have also contributed to the idea that Poppins is a witch. Specifically, he ignored the original film while working on the main character’s makeup in the new sequel. The goal, King says, is to avoid giving Emily Blunt (who takes up the Poppins mantle from Julie Andrews) a jarring 1930s look. You can wave that discrepancy away as just an unimportant detail, but perhaps Poppins is manipulating her own appearance through witchcraft to blend into whatever time she travels to.
Assuming Poppins is a witch, the question remains: What kind of witch is she. As stories like The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter make clear, witches can be good, but they can also be evil. It’s easy to assume that “practically perfect in every way” Mary Poppins is a force for good, but as others have noted, she’s not all spoonfuls of sugar.
One movie fan even re-edited the original trailer to turn it into a horror movie:
And then there’s this:
As Screen Junkies points out in a cutting “Honest Trailer” for the original film, Mary Poppins totally killed (or, at the very least, injured) a bunch of other nannies to get her job. And then, when she’s done casting spells and having her fun, she vanishes.
Maybe The Simpsons had it right all along.
**Mary Poppins Returns is in theaters now.
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