Since her debut, Mary Poppins has become one of Disney's most iconic, and enduring characters. She has become a regular face in pop culture, receiving many parodies. She is notable for being one of the few Disney characters to be a live-action character, and gain the critical acclaim of icons such as Mickey Mouse and Tinker Bell.
It is never explained where Mary Poppins really comes from, though she is seen sitting on a cloud above London near the beginning of the film. It is known that she has a friend Bert and a relative Uncle Albert who both live in 1910 London. She is described as being "practically perfect in every way." As a nanny, she is fairly stern, but also kind and nurturing. She is shown to possess various magical abilities including the abilities to speak to animals, to transport herself and others to various places (including pavement pictures), as well as flight (similar to Peter Pan, just without Tink's pixie dust). However, afterward, she will deny any usage of these powers, presumably to keep them secret from the public.
Mary Poppins first appears at the beginning of the film, sitting on a cloud fixing her makeup. Later, she responds to the advertisement of Jane and Michael Banks for a kind nanny. After all the other nanny candidates are literally blown away, she quickly takes charge and effectively hires herself, much to the surprise of George Banks. Mr. Banks is especially confused as he had previously tossed Jane and Michael's advertisement into the fire.
Mary Poppins goes up to her room, and introduces herself to the children. While unpacking, she astounds the children with her seemingly bottomless carpet bag, which contains such items as a hatstands and a large plant. She tend takes out her tape measure, and measures the children. Michael is said to be stubborn and suspicious, while Jane is inclined to giggle and to leave messes. The children then ask to measure Mary, who complies. The tape measure shows a personalized message which says that she is "practically perfect in every way". It also has her name, which is revealed to the children.
Next Mary Poppins leads the children in a game, which turns out to be tidying the nursery using magic. Simply by snapping, beds fold themselves, and toys put themselves away. After the nursery is clean, Mary Poppins takes the children on an outing. Though they intend to go to the park, they run into Bert, who is an old friend of Mary's. Bert scoffs at the mundane nature of the outing, and notes that with Mary Poppins, unusual things happen. He is then able to goad Mary into transporting them into a chalk picture, done by Bert, of the English countryside.
While Jane and Michael enjoy a nearby fair, Mary and Bert stroll through the English countryside, and enjoy a lunch together. However, their relationship is said to be merely platonic in nature. Later, Mary, Bert, and the children are on a carousel, and at Mary's word, the horses fly off the carousel. Eventually, Mary leads them to a horse race, which she wins handily. When asked by reporters for a word to describe her emotions at winning, she reveal her all purpose word, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". However, a rainstorm hits and washes out the drawing, forcing Mary to cut the outing short. That night the children ask Mary to stay forever, but she promises to only stay until the wind changes.
The next day, Mary takes the children with her to do errands, but an emergency calls them to other matters. Mary's Uncle Albert is floating in the air due to too much laughter and is unable to come down. Mary attempts to keep everyone calm, as the "disease" is contagious. But after Bert, and the children are all affected as well, Mary allows them to have tea while floating in the air. However, everyone is able to come down after being faced with the sad thought that they must go home.
That night, worried by his children's recount of the day's events, Mr. Banks tries to fire Mary Poppins, but is soon manipulated in taking the children to the bank with him. The next day also happens to be Mary's day off, and so when the outing ends in disaster, Mrs. Banks is forced to hire Bert to watch the children. Bert allows the children to watch as he cleans the Banks' chimney. Mary soon appears, warning the children of the danger. Both children fly up the chimney in rapid succession. Mary and Bert follow them, and they take time to explore the rooftops. They meet up with Bert's chimney sweep friends, and eventually all return to the Bank's home, where everyone parties. Mr. Banks returns from work, and demands an explanation, which Mary refuses to give. Later, it is revealed that as a result of what happened during the bank outing, that Mr. Banks had been sacked. However, remembering Mary's all purpose word, he is able to laugh.
The next day, Mary is seen preparing to leave, as the wind has changed. However, during the night, it is revealed that Mr. Banks has had a change of heart, and has decided to be a more caring father. This pleases Jane and Michael so much that they forget to say goodbye to Mary Poppins. Mary notes that everything is as it should be., and it is implied that she has helped numerous families like the Banks. She then flies off, and Bert, noticing her, asks her not to stay away too long.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Mary Poppins (musical)
In the theatrical version, like the film, Mary Poppins is hired as a nanny after the departure of Katie Nanna. She teaches the children valuable lessons in behavior, as they are portrayed as naughtier than in the film and books. She teaches them the value of looking past appearances when she takes them to see Bert. To illustrate the point, she animates the park statues. Later on, Mary Poppins takes the children to see their father at the bank. Though George is furious at first, the visit helps him realize just how much his values have changed and how much his kids mean to him. On the way home, Mary introduces Jane and Michael to the Bird Woman, as well as Mrs. Corry. That night, Mary warns Jane, who is in a temper after an outburst from her father, about controlling herself. As Mary leaves the room, the children are put on trial by their toys. When they are found guilty, Mary realizes that the Banks family has a lot to learn. To bring them to their senses, she decides to leave.
In the second act, Mary Poppins returns after the family suffers though the tyrannical behavior of Mrs. Andrews, George's former nanny. The two nannies have a face off, with Mary being victorious. Mary and the children have another adventure with Bert, who introduces them to his chimney sweep friends. Later, when George is called to the bank, Mary follows him with Jane and Michael in tow. At the end of the play, Mary leaves, knowing that the Banks family no longer needs her.
Mary Poppins is also seen at all the Disney Parks around the world as a meetable character, as well as appearing in parades and shows. She is sometimes seen with Bert or the penguins. She is dressed in her white outfit from the Jolly Holiday musical number, though she mentions her other outfits from the film frequently to guests.
Mary, Bert and a few of the chimney sweepers can be seen in their own float segment for Mickey's Soundsational Parade in Disneyland.
Mary Poppins can be seen alongside Bert in Fantasmic!
In the Disney Dream cruise ship, Mary Poppins makes an appearance in Believe, where she and other Disney "magic makers", help an uptight father believe in magic.
- Poppins was nominated for AFI's 100 Year...100 Hero and Villain list, one of three Disney heroes, along with Peter Pan and Belle. Unfortunately, none of them made the cut.
- In the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, Mary Poppins was given a tribute performance in which she chased away the evil Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter franchise.
Mary Poppins (film) | Soundtrack | Mary Poppins (musical) | House of Mouse
Characters: Mary Poppins (character) | Bert | George Banks | Winifred Banks | Jane Banks | Michael Banks | Penguin Waiters | Fox | Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle | Uncle Albert | Mr. Dawes Sr. | Katie Nanna | Mrs. Brill | Ellen
Locations: London, England
Songs: Chim Chim Cher-ee | Sister Suffragette | The Life I Lead | The Perfect Nanny | A Spoonful of Sugar | Jolly Holiday | Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious | Stay Awake | I Love to Laugh | Fidelity Fiduciary Bank | Feed the Birds | Step in Time | A Man Has Dreams | Let's Go Fly a Kite | The Chimpanzoo | A British Bank
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