Yesterday, EW confirmed that Jennifer Garner is bringing Agatha Christie’s beloved crime-solving spinster Miss Marple back to the big screen in an upcoming Disney production, setting off a flood of skeptical comments.
Why are people so reticent to see Sydney Bristow become Miss Jane Marple? Well, it may have something to do with the fact that unless this movie is going to be called 38 Going on 70, Christie’s character has been changed from an AARP-eligible loner to suit the athletic, dimpled actress.
But is a youthful Miss Marple really such a travesty in itself? True, part of the charm of the Marple series is that a member of a typically ignored demographic takes center stage and solves crimes that baffle young whippersnappers. And yes, bringing Marple to the modern era is a dangerous proposition if one of those government-mandated death panels get a hold of her.
But classic literary figures don’t last as long as Marple has unless they’re durable — we should have faith that she is a strong enough character to survive a (metaphorical) face-lift. Think of Sherlock Holmes: The BBC’s recent Sherlock: A Study in Pink featured a 34-year-old Benedict Cumberbatch playing the middle-aged sleuth, and the result was one of the most relevant adaptations in recent memory — sorry Robert Downey Jr. (Wait, Iron Man and Elektra – is playing a Marvel superhero merely a stepping-stone to getting those juicy British detective roles?)
Ultimately, knocking a few decades off of Miss Marple shouldn’t be reason enough to dismiss the new adaptation outright. The late Margaret Rutherford might remain the quintessential Miss Jane Marple, but Angela Lansbury once played the role when she was a youthful 55. Plus, the new version is going to be scripted by Twin Peaks co-creator Mark Frost (“This is a damn fine cup of coffee, Miss Marple”), so there is plenty reason to think the film will include the requisite quirks of the novels. And we know from Alias that Garner can play the self-possessed, loner-ish crime fighter as well as she can keep blemishes off of her skin.
And hey, as long as Ben Affleck doesn’t get the idea to play Hercule Poirot in a separate reboot, we should be thankful.