11 hidden details in the Wicked trailer

The first part of the big screen version of Wicked lands this November

Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, © Universal

Honestly, after years of covering it, we’re still not quite sure the Wicked film is ACTUALLY happening. It’s been in the pipeline since this website was in its first ten years of life. But, as this trailer seems to prove, the wait may well be worth it, as director Jon M Chu unveils a solid three and a half minutes of footage.

Before we break it all down, be sure to remind yourselves and give it another watch:

Happy birthday Mr Baum! 

Fun fact to kick us off – yesterday’s trailer landed on L Frank Baum’s (the original creator of The Wizard of Oz) birthday. Pretty neat! Anyway, on with the footage.

Are people born wicked, or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?” 

Channelling her best Kristin Chenoweth, Ariana Grande (who is delivering an excellent Glinda by the way) quotes “No One Mourns the Wicked” during the opening of the trailer. An iconic line, it is in turn inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, where Malvolio delivers the line “Some are born great, others achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. Keep it stagey, kids. Note a refrain from the number plays over the narration – as does a small cackle that seems like a solid callback to the original Wizard of Oz film.

Puddles and hats

The second shot from the trailer is a puddle on a stone floor, with a black witch’s hat resting in the water. It’s a pretty direct nod to the fact that, according to the original Wizard of Oz, Elphaba’s original demise comes when Dorothy chucks a bucket of water over her. There are a fair few references to the original Wizard of Oz film in the trailer – even the initial wide shot of the city of Oz is a callback to Dorothy’s walk down the yellow brick road.

Meet the Uplands 

At 23 seconds in, we see a shot of Glinda’s family arriving at Shiz University (where the first real portion of the story takes place) by boat. Accompanying her colossal mound of luggage are what appear to be her parents. Her father, as already revealed, is played by much-loved British actor Adam James, while the performer playing her mother is hard to pin down from the footage. But we’ve heard some rumours that might prove very “Popular”…  On a different note, can we also get a shout-out for the incredible production and costume design? Wow. One case in point is, at 2:14, where one of the elaborate clocks in Oz is straight out of the stage show’s design.

Peter Dinklage is the GOAT 

He also plays a goat in Wicked – the much loved Shiz University professor Doctor Dillamond. Honestly it’s so great seeing Dillamond as a four-legged wizened figure. Like a more scholastic Kuzco from The Emperor’s New Grove. 

Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo
Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo

Shoes, glorious shoes 

As part of that immaculate set design, at 55 seconds in, we see Glinda’s shoe stand in the background of a shot – near-identical to the one featured in the stage productions. Honestly, it’s so refreshing to see a musical film so dedicated to celebrating its stage roots – though notably Glinda’s originally blue bubble dress is now pink – BIG decision!

Sorcery studies 

We do love celebrating the production design in the film, though the text in the “Sorcery Studies” book at 57 seconds, which begins “The spells of the Earth are the grounding spells to weather…” seems to repeat itself a few times over the same page. You didn’t think we’d notice, but we did…. Amusingly, however, one of the tips is to make sure you do magic in an open field – which is one of the locations where Elphaba does cast a rather important spell towards the end of the stage show.

Potions Potables 

Okay we’ve done a deep-dive on this one – at 3:02 in the trailer, Elphaba’s broom soars in front of a box saying “Potions Potables”. We’ve given that one a Google and nothing seems to pop up – although obviously Elphaba’s existence seems to derive from a potion being drunk – so maybe, as she claims her iconic broom, it’s a reflection on where she’s come from and where she’s going.

Jon M Chu, Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, © Universal Pictures
Jon M Chu, Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande, © Universal Pictures

Baby Elphaba!

One of the exciting developments teased by composer Stephen Schwartz is more of a backstory for a younger Elphaba. In fact, original Wicked writer Gregory Maguire is writing a tie-in novel plotting the early life of the green heroine. According to social media, she’s played by Karis Musongole in the film – glimpsed at 3:09 in the trailer and already a fan fave. Other characters are also getting their backstories fleshed out – Fiyero’s status as a Prince (seen on newspaper headlines) is also present in the trailer.

It’s the wizard who should be afraid of me

The trailer is laden with direct script lifts from the original Wicked stage show. One of those exchanges, as Elphaba (obviously an incredibly well cast Cynthia Erivo) exclaims: “It’s the wizard who should be afraid of me!” The line is a direct nod to showstopping moment “Defying Gravity”, which will probably end the first of the two-part film adaptation. Another neat one comes with “Something bad is happening in Oz…”, whispered by Erivo’s Elphaba.


As you’ll remember from The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and co have to deal with stupour-inducing flowers when they head across Oz. The same flowers make an appearance in Wicked – at 1:02.

Gosh we can’t wait for November.