Why I Hope The Wicked Movie Is More Like The Book Than The Musical

Unpopular opinions alert, amiright?

Look, I love Wicked. It’s probably my second favourite musical ever and I listen to its songs all the time. I love it. I saw it live two years ago and it was glorious.

That being said, like anyone who reads a book first and then sees an adaptation, I had some concerns afterward. I know people really don’t like the book, but I actually didn’t hate it. Yes, I found it a little dry and sometimes confusing, but overall, I thought it to be quite brilliant.

So with the recent news that there is a Wicked movie finally in progress and set to be released in 2019 (so far away!) I’ve been thinking about how it’ll turn out. While I would in the end be totally fine if the movie was just like the musical, I am hoping that the writers take the chance to change it up slightly and add in some of the book’s features that got cut.

wicked book

WARNING: from here on, there will be spoilers for the musical and book, so read on with caution!

I am a sucker for teams, and one thing I really liked in the book was the partnership at Shiz between Elphaba, Glinda, Boq, Fiyero, Avaric and a few others as they worked to research Animal rights and whatnot. It was a time of peace. Elphaba had friends and a purpose and there was no drama. The Shiz parts of the book were my favourite, and I’m a little sad that the musical glossed over it to some extent. I understand that time is a factor, but I’d really love more Shiz scenes. In the musical, Elphaba was always seen as an awkward solo act, and it wasn’t until Glinda did she have someone else, so to see that portrayed differently would be nice. Think of these extra characters as the Seamus and Dean of Harry Potter: there and accounted for, but not crucial to the plot.

I also didn’t love how the musical erased all ties to the rest of the books. Yes, books…plural. I don’t know how commonly known that is, but Gregory Maguire wrote three other Oz books. Wicked could stand alone, but I really like the idea of there being even more to the famous story. While I can’t say I adored the other three books, and I did have to force myself to finish them, they were kind of interesting. I mean, those books covered three generations of a family and managed to seamlessly tie old and new characters together in a world that was largely unexplored. Even though there is never going to be a musical sequel, it still would have been cool to pay homage to the book/s by at least having an open ending that could have hinted to a future. Perhaps the movie will allow for such artistic choices…?

The musical really only covered about 40% of the book, and as far as adaptations go, that’s pretty bad, even if the result was a stunning musical that I love. The whole plot at Kiamo Ko was really interesting but completely cut out. Again, I understand the time constraint, I do, but I’m hoping the movie will be able to use some movie magic and tell more of such a rich story.

However, there is one thing from the book and musical that I could do without, and that is the concept of the Wizard being Elphaba’s father. The musical made it a lot more obvious than the book did. I seriously forgot that it was even in the book until I was doing research for this post. I just think that it’s a really cheesy and cliché thing, and overall, it doesn’t affect the plot too much so it could easily be removed for the movie.

The last reason I’m hoping the movie is more like the book is because the musical was essentially Glinda’s telling of the story. The musical starts with her telling the Munchkins that she and Elphaba used to be friends. And while it wasn’t really biased or anything, I just think that having a more neutral and open telling through the movie medium would allow for more character development that the musical didn’t really touch on. I’m realizing as I write that the book was more Elphaba’s story while the musical was more of everyone’s story as they exist around Elphaba.

wicked musical

Honestly, I’m so excited for the movie. 2019 can’t come any sooner. There’s no casting news yet, but I’d love to see Lea Michele or Anna Kendrick as Elphaba and I’d also quite enjoy Darren Criss as Fiyero. And then put the original cast in as other characters…Like have Norbert Leo Butz play the Wizard and Idina Menzel play Madame Morrible! I’m also hoping they keep the steampunk-esque costumes from the musical because those are so funky and fun. In terms of Fiyero, I’m praying they use the blue diamonds, because I feel like that should have been in the musical. But all in all, I’m just excited to see such a cool story immortalized on film. Movies can show so much in a minute that isn’t possible on a stage, so I feel like Wicked is a brilliant thing to film.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Did you like aspects of the book/s?


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11 thoughts on “Why I Hope The Wicked Movie Is More Like The Book Than The Musical

  1. Surprising. I have a massive Wicked fan. In fact, I saw the musical before I even read the book. I remember reading the book and being so bored by it. I felt like there were moments in the musical that were just stronger on stage. There is like no love triangle in the book, and that is one of the best parts of the musical. The book was just way too dark for the stage and made absolutely no sense.

    As for me, I want the movie to stay more faithful to the musical then the book. If it was more like the book, the movie might became way too dark and change the genre drastically. The book as I know is presented as a tragedy. However, the musical is presented a comedy and if the movie is not portrayed as a comedy, then the movie may not work out. I am just saying that because the movie is going to be the musical version not the book version.

    • I totally agree that the book was a little boring. It did drone on in parts and was rather dark (though if you think about it, the whole concept of The Wizard Of Oz is a little dark too. I mean, sending a young girl to go murder a witch?) but that’s why I think the movie could embrace the darkness a bit more than the musical.
      We don’t really know for certain if the movie will follow the musical or the book. There will be music, so the musical plot is more likely, but like I said, I’m just hoping the writers decide to use some book features.

  2. I only got halfway through the book back when I tried to read it in high school, and ten years later, I don’t remember anything about it. BUT you mentioned Darren Criss as Fiyero, and BOY would I love to see that. Great casting. 🙂

  3. I definitely agree that the moviedo should be more like the book. Sadly, I don’t think it will reflect the book as much as the musical. Especially if the writers choose to keep the original musical numbers. And multiple songs reflect Fiyero having a romantic relationship with both Glinda and Elphaba, and those relationships were a big part of the musical. Though in the book, Fiyero and Glinda were never an item and barely even friends.
    But I do think it is important that Elphaba remains the wizards daughter. If she hadn’t been, she would not have been able to read any of the grimerie. Which is also important to the plot line of both Wicked the book and it’s sequel.

    • Yeah, you’re right, the songs do play a huge part in the story, especially the love triangle.
      I also forgot about the grimerie, but I’m sure the writers could come up with another reason as to why she can read it. Tie it to the potion her mom took when she was pregnant or something.

  4. While not a Wicked fan, per se, I’m really interested in the adaptations of classics – and even though the original Wizard of Oz is not for me, I find it neat to see what others are doing with the story so many years later. Wicked was a cool concept because it put everything from the Witch’s side of things. Haven’t seen the musical or read the book, but I might watch the movie. Also interesting to see some comparisons between the musical and the novel.

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