Mary Poppins Returns is every inch the love letter to Robert Stevenson’s 1964 original starring Julie Andrews. As such, there are plenty of callbacks and echoes throughout. From bars of music in the new songs and score, and repetition of lyrics, to mirrored story beats — and Lin Manuel Miranda’s (presumably deliberate) dodgy Cockney accent paying homage to Dick Van Dyke’s fondly derided East London tones, the film smartly introduces a sense of fate. But amongst all the more obvious Easter Eggs and references, there are some that are a bit better hidden. Here are our favourites.
Not only is there a reference to the great Richard M Sherman, who is credited as music consultant on the film – he wrote the score of the original film with his brother, Robert – but the paintings of London the opening titles play out against are reminiscent of Bert’s street paintings from the first film. You know, the ones Mary Poppins magically transports her, Bert and the Banks children into? Grown-up Michael Banks is a struggling artist too – and clearly learned a thing or two from Bert. It’s one of many ways the sequel mirrors the original.
If you were expecting to see Mary Poppins’ famous daisy- and cherry-adorned hat, at first glance you might be disappointed. That’s until you realise that the flowers and fruit have been replaced by a robin – a cute callback to the robin Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins duets with during her rendition of “A Spoonful of Sugar” in the first film.
Another Very Famous Musical
Lin-Manuel Miranda plays Jack the lamplighter in Mary Poppins Returns. He’s also the mastermind behind stage musical mega-success Hamilton. It’s surely no coincidence that one of the lawyers working for Colin Firth’s William Wetherall Wilkins at the Fidelity Feduciary Bank is called Hamilton Gooding?
When Michael and Jane are searching for the shares certificate in the attic of 17 Cherry Tree Lane, Michael picks up a snowglobe and says: “I honestly can’t remember why we kept most of this stuff to begin with.” It’s just before he picks up his old childhood kite from the first, which is adorned with his mother’s old Votes for Women sash. It’s the same snowglobe from the “Feed the Birds” sequence in the original film featuring a snowy St Paul’s Cathedral.
In the same clip, you’ll notice Michael putting the kite in a box of rubbish. The box in question is a wooden tea crate, with the words ‘Ceylon Tea’ on the outside. This recalls the story from the first film, when Mr Dawes Jr reminds George Banks of the time an official at the bank “unwisely loaned a large sum of money to finance a shipment of tea to the American colonies.” He asks Banks if he knows what happened.
“Yes, sir. Yes, I think I do,” says Banks. “As the ship lay in Boston harbor, a party of colonists, dressed as Red Indians, boarded the Bessel, behaved rudely and threw all the tea overboard. This made the tea unsuitable for drinking – even for Americans!”
The bank, at which George Banks was made a partner and Michael holds down a job as a teller, invested in tea. There’s a line about plantations of ripening tea in the “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” song.
Michael’s only daughter is named Annabel, and she’s played by Pixie Davies in Mary Poppins Returns – but in PL Travers’ original books, Annabel is the name of Michael’s baby sister.
When Mary Poppins takes the kids to visit her cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep), look closely at the bric-a-brac in her workshop. She has the same weather vane that was prominent in the original.
Fans of the original film will remember Andrew, the dog who belonged to Miss Lark. In Mary Poppins Returns, Miss Lark has a new dog, Willoughby. Both dogs feature in the PL Travers’ novels – Miss Lark adopts Willoughby after Andrew communicates to Mary Poppins that he’d like a playmate.
This one is another reference to the books. Mary Poppins sings about Nellie Rubina while performing in the Royal Doulton Music Hall. In the books, Nellie Rubina is one of two human-sized wooden dolls.
As the film nears its end, look closely as a blonde woman walks past 17 Cherry Tree Lane. “I’m looking for number 19,” she says. It’s Karen Dotrice, who played the young Jane Banks in the original.
Dick Van Dyke – who of course played Bert in the original film – turns up in a cameo role towards the end of the film. He plays the part of Mr Dawes Jr, who appeared in the first film. This is also notable for the fact that Van Dyke played a heavily disguised Mr Dawes Sr in the first film after petitioning for the role. In Mary Poppins Returns, Dawes Jr attempts to tell the wooden leg joke that was pivotal to the original film but he can’t remember it.
He also tells the story of the tuppence that was the cause of George Banks losing his job in the first film. He recalls that Michael had wanted to give it to the “bird lady” but that his father invested it for him instead. The investment paid off, making Michael enough to pay off the sizeable loan that is responsible for the trouble he finds himself in.
Finally, the film’s closing credits hark back to the original’s, scrambling Dick Van Dyke’s name in exactly the same way – same font and everything – that the first film did. Navckid Keyd is the anagram that appears before the letters bounce around to reveal ‘Dick Van Dyke’.
Mary Poppins Returns hits screens in the US on December 19, the UK on December 21 and Australia on January 1.