A few weeks ago, Sony released the first trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, their upcoming feature starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers. It was heartwarming and funny, but the closest thing it had to any sign of conflict or tension was one character expressing her hope that the magazine profile of Fred Rogers that another character is writing will not ruin her childhood. As we all remember from elementary school, “Celebrity Magazine Profile vs. Precious Childhood Memories of Watching Television” isn’t one of the four types of conflict, and without conflict, there’s no story. So it’s good news for Sony that the second trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood gives the audience a little more insight into the plot engine. Jimmy Kimmel debuted the newest trailer on Friday night:
Wow! Mister Rogers fans have been speculating for years about whether or not Captain Kangaroo would appear in the MRU, but this is the first confirmation that director Marielle Heller will be giving audiences her take on the legendary supervillain. Heller has packed so much Captain Kangaroo lore into the trailer—the jacket, the ping-pong ball drop, the axe—that it will be hard for the more toxic sectors of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fanbase to turn on her. Plus, there are clues in the trailer about the direction the MRU is headed that should have even hardcore fans racing to buy tickets. Here’s the big one: A brief shot of a Yahoo! News story headlined “KANGAROO ESCAPES ASYLUM.” We don’t see who’s typing, so it could be a shot of Mr. Rogers digging into his arch-nemesis’s tragic origins. But if you pause the trailer and look closely, here’s what the text says:
Gary Kangaroo (57), part time children’s birthday clown and dishonorably discharged captain in the Australian Coast Guard, escaped from Bellevue Asylum late Thursday evening. During a routine cell check, it was discovered by administrators that Mr. Kangaroo had chewed through an air duct leaving behind a dummy made of what appeared to be his own feces and [a] mop.
In the comic books, of course, the Captain’s real name is Thelonious Kangaroo. The only canonical Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood character named “Gary” is Gary Bovinity, the Tylenol-poisoner-turned-dairy-farmer who runs a criminal empire under his secret identity, Clarabelle the Cow. We already know from the first trailer that in this timeline, Mister Rogers sends Clarabelle to Bellevue after foiling her plot to poison the athlete’s milk at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, which means she’s there by August 12, 1984. Thelonious Kangaroo was canonically born in 1927, and there’s a brief shot of the comic-accurate back tattoo of his birthday that confirms that this date hasn’t changed in the movie. So if the “Gary Kangaroo” in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood escapes at the age of 57, he’s escaping in … 1984. Could he have been in Bellevue at the same time as Clarabelle the Cow, or—even wilder—could it be that in this continuity, Captain Kangaroo and Clarabelle the Cow are the same person? If that’s true, then Phase One of the Mister Rogers saga could be building towards a retelling of the legendary Silver Age Howdy Doody vs. Big Bird arc. We’ll find out more when A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood reaches theaters on Nov. 22, but one thing’s already clear: You’re going to want to see this one in IMAX.