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Disney releases first photo of Emily Blunt as 'Mary Poppins'

Whether or not we really need a sequel to the Oscar-winning classic, there's one blowing in.

Emily Blunt will play famed nanny Mary Poppins in a new movie coming out in 2018.

Disney

I'm not saying that Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins won't be practically perfect in every way.

In an image released Friday by Disney for its upcoming sequel, "Mary Poppins Returns," set to open on Dec. 25, 2018, the British-American actress looks lovely.

Her face is hidden by the brim of her very-Mary-style hat, but the line of her profile, the calm but determined look on her lips, those all look right.

Blunt's outfit, too, passes even the toughest nanny's inspection, with a peacock-blue coat, bright gloves and sensible chunky heels. That colorful carpet bag doesn't look large, but as the original 1964 "Mary Poppins" film showed, never judge things by their appearance. There's definitely a giant hatstand in there, plus an ornate wall mirror, rubber-tree plant, lamp with a tasseled shade and a couple of bottles of rrrrrr-rum punch.

But do we need another Mary Poppins movie? Sure, some of the technology, if we can even call it that, of the original has been surpassed. That animatronic bird that lands on Mary's finger may have been cutting-edge in 1964, but it looks awfully clunky by modern standards.

But the original had Julie Andrews, who won a best-actress Oscar, and the hearts of millions, for the role. It had those dazzling Sherman Brothers songs. And although Dick Van Dyke's Cockney accent as Bert became the butt of jokes for years afterward, "Step in Time" remains one of the most magical numbers ever put to film. Can a sequel even play in that universe?

The cast is promising: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, a return visit by Van Dyke (as Mr. Dawes Jr. -- remember, in addition to Bert, he played the old banker, Mr. Dawes Sr., in the original). And perhaps most promising of all, Blunt told Entertainment Weekly that Andrews herself reacted positively to her casting.

And what's that Bert once said? "Wind's in the east, mist comin' in. Like something is brewin' and 'bout to begin. Can't put me finger on what lies in store. But I fear what's to happen, all happened before."

Whether that something is good or bad is still to be determined.

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