There have been countless attempts to adapt or supplement the stories of L. Frank Baum and is magical land of Oz. What is canon and what is not is the subject of contentious debate, with only fourteen of the original forty novels written by Baum, and various sequels, prequels, companions and re-imaginings considered both canon and apocrypha depending on who you ask.
Oz the Great and Powerful is billed as a prequel to the series that begins with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1901) . More honestly it is an origin story of the type generally found in the pages of D.C. or Marvel. But the Wizard - designated in this film Oscar Diggs and played by James Franco – is not a comic book hero. He is a man, and a deeply flawed one at that. Lacking in any abilties other than those of a carnival conjourer (and not a very good one at that), the wizard is, in his own words ‘just a common man’; a con man and charlatan who is carried away in his balloon and ends up in Oz quite by accident.
Canonically, when he arrives in Oz the Emeral City does not exist:
“…I found myself in the midst of a strange people, who, seeing me come from the clouds, thought I was a great Wizard. Of course I let them think so, because they were afraid of me, and promised to do anything I wished them to.
“Just to amuse myself, and keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this city, and my Palace; and they did it willingly and well.
In this revision, directed by Sam Raimi and written by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire, the Emerald City is already the centre of Oz (though it is the Emerald City of the 1939 MGM film, not the books) and is the home to witches Theodora and Evanora, played by Mila Kunis and Rachael Weisz respectively. So far, so not-very-Baum.
Let’s briefly run through the plot.
When Diggs arrives in Oz he meets Theodora, who is remarkably pleased to see him. Diggs’ arrival in Oz has, it turns out, been prophesied. A great wizard, it is said, will arrive to overthrow the evil witch that killed the king. Obviously that is Diggs, for whomelse would fall out of the sky?
Theodora and Diggs travel to the Emerald City, adding to their number a winged monkey named Finlay (Zach Braff) who is saved from a (perfectly reasonably) cowardly lion en route. Inevitably, Theodora falls in love with Diggs.
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