The character was originally created by J.M. Barrie for his novel Peter Pan.
Wendy is the love of Peter Pan. At the beginning she never wants to grow up. She has two younger brothers with the same ambitions. Tinker Bell is always jealous of Wendy. Near the end Wendy knows that everyone has to grow up some time.
Lovely young English actress Rachel Hurd-Wood got her start as an actress when she played Wendy Darling in the 2003 film adaptation of the Peter Pan classic. Miss Hurd-Wood was age 13 when the film was released in December of 2003. Apparently there was something special that the Peter Pan staff saw in this girl when she auditioned for the role of Wendy Darling. Five years after Rachel starred as Wendy, in 2008, she was ranked as the "36th Most Beautiful Famous Face", per "The Annual Independent Critics List of the 100 Most Beautiful Famous Faces From around the World". Even more remarkable, the Independent Critics ranked her as the 16th most beautiful face for 2009. She even made the list for a third consecutive year, when the Independent Critics ranked her #54 on their 2010 list. (per her IMDb page) The 2003 Peter Pan film grossed 48.4 million in United States receipts and 121.9 million worldwide, so Rachel Hurd-Wood's luck in landing the role of Wendy Darling got her noticed.
It was Rachel's grandmother that saw the ad asking for girls to audition to play Wendy Darling. An interesting note is that Rachel had to beat out Anna Popplewell for the part of Wendy Darling. Anna went on to star in The Chronicles of Narnia films. Considering that the first two Narnia films grossed $718 million and $419 million respectively, Anna has done just fine without the Wendy Darling role that she lost to Rachel.
It is most ironic that as a child Rachel was jealous of the Wendy Darling character, due to the fact that Wendy got to fly.
However, the 2003 film is only the most recent entry in a long series of Peter Pan films. The first Peter Pan movie was in 1924 and had Mary Brian play Wendy Darling. The 1953 animation version saw Kathryn Beaumont do the voice of Wendy. The 1960 made-for television Peter Pan cast Maureen Bailey as Wendy. The 1962 German television Peter Pan film had Helga Anders as Wendy. The 1976 made-for-television Peter Pan cast Briony McRoberts as Wendy. Finally the 2000 television version of Peter Pan showed Elisa Sagardia as the ever popular Wendy Darling.
Other films and television series not named Peter Pan still deal with the basic Peter Pan theme and have a Wendy Darling character. Famous Director Steven Spielberg provided a variation of the Peter Pan saga in his 1991 film, Hook. Here Peter Pan is an adult and no longer living in NeverLand. He is an attorney who is married to Wendy Darling's granddaughter and has two children. Maggie Smith plays an adult Wendy Darling, while Gwyneth Paltrow appears as a young Wendy in flashbacks only. Return to Neverland is a 2003 animated Disney film. It is also known as Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland. Kath Soucie provides the voice of Wendy Darling in this film. Disney's 2008 computer generated animation film, Tinker Bell, has America Young as the voice of Wendy Darling. Fox also produced an animated television series called Peter Pan and the Pirates. It ran for one season from September 1990 to September 1991. This version was most unusual as it showed Wendy with black hair, instead of the normal brown or blonde. Christina Lange gave voice to Wendy Darling in this series.
Then let us not forget that the Peter Pan saga has had a long run on Broadway. Kathleen Nolan was Wendy in the 1954 Peter Pan play. She also played Wendy in 1955 and 1956 when the television series called Producer's Showcase provided two Peter Pan episodes. Marsha Kramer was cast as Wendy in the 1979 Broadway Peter Pan play. Peter Pan again returned to Broadway in 1990 and 1991 with Cindy Robinson as Wendy. Finally the 1998-1999 Broadway Peter Pan had Elisa Sagardia as Wendy Darling.
In Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's Lost Girls, Wendy now in her 30s and married to Harold Potter. The comic depicts the sexually explicit adventures of three important female fictional characters of the late 19th and early 20th century: Alice Fairchild, Dorothy Gale, and Wendy Darling. They meet as adults in 1913 in and Austrian hotel describing and sharing with each other some of their erotic adventures.
Wendy's sexual escapades begin when she meets a homeless teenage boy named Peter and his sister Annabel in Kensington Gardens. Peter follows the three siblings home and teaches them sexual games, and the siblings begin regular meetings with Peter and his group of homeless boys in the park for sex. These encounters are watched by the Captain, a co-worker of Wendy's father, who later hires Peter as a male prostitute and brutally rapes Annabel. He attacks Wendy, who escapes by confronting him with his fear of aging. She only sees Peter once more, hustling in a train station. She marries the much older Harold Potter because she is not attracted to him, and would not have to think about enjoying sex ever again.
Wendy's origin story differs somewhat from the same character in the novel of Peter Pan. This character's background story is not extremely developed, but the most important event of her life was that the parents of her two nephews died some time in the past. Wendy became their sole guardian and eventually came to regard the children as her own.
Wendy undergoes fairly little character development in the first series she appeared in, as the character development focused more on Nathan Cross and Tinker Belle. However, she was created as a sufficiently complex character. She is the adoptive parents of her nephews after their parents died unexpectedly. She regards her nephews as her own children even if they do not accept her fully as their parent (they constantly ask her questions about them.) She thus struggles as a single mother for children that she must care for because she lost others important to her as well. This same tension is felt across her appearances.
Major Story Arcs
Wendy first appeared as the single adoptive mother to her orphaned nephews. Early on the relationship is established that she values them very deeply. One night to her amazement and horror she sees a mysterious figure and a fairy at the window of her two nephews who proceed to abduct the two youngsters. Distraught she files a missing person report for them, but she is informed by Doctor Harlow (who works with the police) that they must act quickly as the first twenty four hours are key in finding abducted children. Out of desperation they resort to contacting Nathan Cross.
Long since haunted by his nightmares of his lost brother and left with a missing arm, Nathan has spent life on the wrong side of the law while trying to deal with his grief. While his story sounds similar to Wendy's the doctor decides that they must meet. At first Nathan is reluctant, as he still holds great fear for the events of his past, but after being challenged by Wendy he agrees to undergo hypnosis to see if he can find any secrets which might help her.
What they get though is completely unexpected, as his freed subconscious mind has revealed power which he did not know that he had, and he transports the three of them to Neverland. They set off trying to find answers, guided only by Nathan's intuition, but that intuition leads them to be captured by a group of Native Americans that live there. Meanwhile the malevolent ruler of the realm, Pan, has decided that he wishes the be rid of Tinker Belle as she is no longer of romantic interest to him (though this seemed to be tenuous anyway.) he instead desires Wendy as the Queen of his realm and after trying to solicit Tinker Belle's help she rebukes him, informing she will not help him find another (as she still loves him.) Instead he offers Princess Tiger Lily a deal, that she tell him where the portals are and that her tribe be spared. he gives her some time to think about it, but when he goes to find her answer he finds that Wendy is also there and captured and takes her prisoner. In so doing he kills the Princess's father and makes an enemy of her. Meanwhile Nathan has escaped and seeks to muster support to overthrow the tyrant.
Wendy is taken to the castle where she is imprisoned but offered a deal. If she marries Pan then her nephews lives will be spared. She rejects his offer, eager to find another way, though she is uncertain of what that might be as she is trapped in a cell. Soon Tinker Belle comes to her cell and offers her a bargain, if she leaves Neverland forever then she will be freed, as well as her nephews. Wendy agrees not realizing that it is a trap and she is led to the depths of the castle to be devoured by Pan's monster (which in this version of the story is the Crocodile from the original story.)
Tinker Belle leaves her to her fate, but Wendy succeeds in wounding the animal using some ingenuity and determination. She eventually finds her way back to Nathan who by this point has lost in battle to Pan and has decided to give up again. She refuses to let him give up, and after deciding to go back and face his nemesis they meet up with Doctor Harlow, Princess Tiger Lily and the remainder of her band. The group decide to storm the castle and they determine that the only way in is via the route past the monster. Nathan defeats the monster and the others follow. Meanwhile above Pan is confronted by TInker Belle who tells him that Wendy has escaped. Immediately suspicious he demands to know how she is the only one who knows and reasons that Tinker Belle freed her. The two quarrel but Tinker Belle is soon trapped in an energy cage constructed by Pan. Pan now enraged seeks revenge on Wendy by deciding to kill her nephews. As they resist and fight back as they can, Tinker Belle finally sees what true love is and figures that she never had it with Pan. As the others break into the room they found themselves severely outmatched and on the verge of defeat before Tinker Belle decides on her own revenge by transporting Nathan and Pan to New York City, where Pan is powerless. After a brief battle Pan is defeated and Wendy is reunited with her children. In the epilogue it is revealed that Nathan and the Darlings have become quite close, each filling in for missing family.
After some time, Nathan starts to have dreams again that his brother is alive. Meanwhile a series of horrific murders spread their way around the city. Belle shows up unexpectedly as Nathan is fighting an unknown threat. She is knocked unconscious and left in the care of Wendy. He finds a way back to Neverland and finds it in ruins. It turns out that Barr, who had helped him previously, had simply helped him so that he could regain control of the realms and impose his own form of tyranny on it. Nathan is once again trapped, as are the Tiger Lily's tribe and their sacred child. Barr intends to use the child to draw New York City into Neverland thus feeding his power and he needs Nathan to unlock the power of the child. Barr has also left word that Tiger Lily's people are to be killed. This nearly happens before the timely intervention of Belle, Wendy and the rest of the heroes. Belle is surprised to see Nyx, another fairy, as she thought she was the last one. They fight off this attack and then come to Nathan's aid as he fights off Barr. It is also revealed that Wendy and Nathan are now in a romantic relationship.
As with the majority of Zenescope assortment of female characters, the depiction of the character varies greatly between that on the cover and that in that actual stories. The covers often contain gratuitous poses by the females and often also act as homage covers. Conversely the interior contain well conceived and well portrayed female characters. An exception to this are certain Zenescope specials, such as the Grimm Fairy Tales Swimsuit Editions, in which Wendy appeared in 2010.