Those who’ve never read the original “Oz” books by L. Frank Baum have no idea how much more of a story there is to the Wizard. Even though there’s no official canon from Baum on the Wizard’s backstory as seen in “Oz the Great and Powerful”, plenty happens after the events of the time Dorothy visits Oz. Much of it also has as much political allegory as the above new film has, including a few technological predictions Baum slipped in that almost equal H.G. Wells.
Of course, these tales require an older Wizard, or otherwise named Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkel Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs. But if it’s already a stretch for some wondering how the young visage of James Franco eventually turns into the countenance of the Wizard depicted in the books and by Frank Morgan in “The Wizard of Oz”, you’re likely not alone. Regardless, Franco might find himself in a situation where playing the evolution of the Wizard would be as lucrative cinematically as continued acting in the revamped “Apes” movies.
There shouldn’t be any doubt that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is going to be successful. Based on the trailers and visuals, it’s going to be an experience that serves justice to Baum fans and “The Wizard of Oz” fans. That Wizard guy, though, has enough interesting facets to warrant showing an entire cinematic arc of his journeys through not only Oz, but also some other Baum-created universes.
Should there ever be a sequel to “Great and Powerful”, it should immediately jump to the events following “The Wizard of Oz”, despite an apparent re-imagining of that story in the works and Franco presumably in the title role. It’s in the fourth book (“Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz”) when the Wizard reveals his full name I quoted above as an acronym for OZ PINHEAD. Here, he’s reunited with Dorothy after the latter and her family members fall through a crack in the earth after a California earthquake.
This is where the Wizard visits entirely different places after leaving Oz for a time. The age of CGI could give another visual feast to the land of the Mangaboos, which is an underground kingdom of vegetable people. As well, Franco would have a chance to play an older Wizard, presumably with prosthetics that look convincingly close to how we remember Frank Morgan.
You also have the problem above of casting a new Dorothy, who’s supposed to be only four months older from when the events of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” take place. In that regard, it could get complicated, unless it’s noted that the Wizard Franco will be the real star. Hollywood shouldn’t necessarily start the national Dorothy search now so a million teenage girls start throwing in their resumes.
The point would be to gravitate to more films about the Wizard, considering he appears in numerous other Oz books down the line. If that does happen, let’s hope they show the inventions he brings to Oz that match some of the devices we use today, including cell phones. Even a much later Oz book written by John R. Neill had the Wizard creating what we’d call today a Smart Car (from Apple).
Better yet, if “The Wizard of Oz” truly is blasphemously remade for continuity, seeing the magical Wizard change into different elaborate guises as he does in the original book would bring things full circle. That’s because it would bring what MGM didn’t have the capability to create visually in the 1939 classic.