The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

Many of my friends ask how I can love Wicked, yet hate the musical it was spawned from, The Wizard of Oz. Easily.

The Wizard of Oz is creepy, clichéd and fairly boring. Wicked is innovative, original (or as original as a semi-spinoff can get) and riddled with “underlying meaning”. Sure, Wicked tells the story of what happened “before Dorothy dropped in” and runs somewhat parallel to the events of The Wizard of Oz, but is a stand-alone story that blows its predecessor out of the water.

There are so many similarities and differences and storyline quirks to put into words, not to mention those between the book and the stage show, so I’m going to attempt to unravel some of them in a pictorial format. Feel free to join the discussion and change my “wicked ways”.

The Wicked Witch of the West VS. Elphaba.

In The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked witch is the epitome of Hollywood villain and has the appearance to match, whereas in Wicked, Elphaba’s friends are able to find beauty in her despite and in spite of the colour of her skin.

Glinda the Good Witch of the North VS. Galinda.

There are more similarities between the film and musicals’ versions of Glinda/Galinda than the “wicked” witches, as they both come across as superficial and somewhat ditzy, but their intellect and ability to see the good in people come out as both stories progress. Galinda, however, is far more three-dimensional than her Wizard of Oz counterpart.

The Scarecrow VS. Fiyero.

In Wicked, Fiyero goes undercover as a scarecrow in order to run away with Elphaba as the angry mob comes after her. In The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow accompanies Dorothy in search of a brain, which is echoed in Fiyero’s performance of “Dancing Through Life” in the play. The song deals with Fiyero’s depreciation of school and that the students of Shiz should follow his lead and dance “mindlessly” and “brainlessly” through life, thus harkening back to his transformation into the Scarecrow.

Boq VS. The Tin Man.

The Tin Man is an underdeveloped character to say the least, as is Boq in the musical. Boq is in love with Galinda, who doesn’t give him the time of day, so settles for the disabled Nessarose, who goes on to become the Governor of Munchkinland. Nessarose becomes so upset when Boq threatens to leave her that she casts an ill-fated spell on him which causes his heart to shrink. Elphaba, coming to the rescue, is able to save him, but he will never have a heart, and thus becomes the Tin Man.

Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion.

The two principle characters in The Wizard of Oz are merely extras in Wicked, with Elphaba saving the lion cub from an experiment at school, and Dorothy “dropping in” on Nessarose and killing her. While Dorothy’s appearance in Wicked stays true to the storyline of The Wizard of Oz, Elphaba’s act of kindness in saving the cub contributes to his cowardice in later life.

The Wicked Witch of the East VS. Nessarose.

As previously mentioned, Nessarose is wheelchair bound and later assumes her father’s role as Governor of Munchkinland. She is also Elphaba’s sister and dubs herself “The Wicked Witch of the East” after condemning Boq to a life as a tin woodsman. The famous ruby slippers don’t turn up til later in the play, when Elphaba enchants them to give Nessarose the ability to walk. Then Dorothy ruins it all by crash landing her house on Nessarose.

The Wizard of Oz VS. erm… the Wizard of Oz.

In both the film and the musical, the Wizard of Oz is revealed to be a bumbling fraud. In The Wizard of Oz, he represents the finish line of the metaphorical journey the four musketeers embark on to get their respective wishes granted, whereas in Wicked, the wizard is a puppet for Madame Morrible and is revealed as Elphaba’s birth father.

While The Wizard of Oz is a story of the comforts of home, the oppression faced in small country towns, and the politics of 1890s America, Wicked hits much closer to home with its themes of beauty, racism, acceptance, good and evil, and friendship. Perhaps Wicked is a new story for a new generation that isn’t so concerned with the “fairytale” offered by last century’s The Wizard of Oz?

Related: Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

Elsewhere: [Wikipedia] Political Interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Images via Michael Boykin, Lisa Galek, Andrew Garvey, Daddy Catchers Realm, Culture Guide, Parody Files, Aussie Theatre, Centre Portal, Christopher’s Mark, Courier Mail, Acidemic, Persnickety Penelope.

16 thoughts on “The Wizard of Oz VS. Wicked.

  1. Pingback: On the Net: Strong Female Characters in the Land of Oz. « The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  2. Pingback: On the Net: Idle Hands. « The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  3. Pingback: On the Net: It Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White… Or Green. « The Early Bird Catches the Worm

  4. Uh, Did you even read the book? The original story of Wicked is different from the musical. Yes the play is very good and, to an extent, deeper than the Wizard of Oz but you seem to forget that Wizard of Oz is the ORIGINAL. Granted I personally have never read the book “Wizard of Oz” but the movie is better known anyway. But you can never, no matter what, replace an Original. Wicked, book and musical, are simply another side of the story. Granted there are contradictions between them all but so what! Wicked is almost It’s own story, an idea from the Original. I an a fan of The Wizard of Oz And a huge fan of wicked musical and especially of the book, and I think opinion is a retarded waste of internet space. I only spent 5 minutes to let you and everyone else know.

  5. Oh and one more thing, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!” “Somewhere over the rainbow” ” There’s no place like home”what movie or musical is more known or more quoted than the Wizard of Oz, Really? It was a turning point in entertainment history. I can see how poor little kids could be scared of it and think it creepy but as an adult surely you can watch and see that they used toys for much of the set. I mean really, stop complaining. The Wizard of Oz is a classic beloved by a great many. Wicked is a brilliant masterpiece that cannot out do the classic from which it came. Wizard is just too legendary for Wicked to surpass. Case closed.

    • Just because it’s classic doesn’t mean that a spin-off can’t out-do it. Legends are outdone everyday, and looking at the numbers Wicked has done just that. So why don’t you let go of that elderly grip on the past and join the rest of us in true appreciation of something that didn’t have to come during the post-depression to be successful.

  6. It looks like you spent a bit more than five minutes on that diatribe, but thanks for the comment nonetheless. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  7. i am in the wizard of oz at the moment and knowing the 2 musicals well i think its very clever and if u follow th eyellow brick road u can defy gravity

  8. The play Wicked and the book both blow the Wizard of Oz out of the water but they were intended for adults, the wizard of Oz was made for children. So it makes sense that the two can’t compare. At any rate I would much rather go see Wicked then watch the Wizard of Oz any day but I’m grown a man, a child would likely be better off the Wizard, at least until they are a a little bit older.

  9. Ok, I loooove Wicked so guys, don’t hate me. It is the greatest thing since my birthday so don’t ruin it by shipping Gelphie coz Gelphie sucks. Fiyeraba on the other hand…….. I write Wicked fanfiction, in case you couldn’t tell.

    • And I am 11, so you can’t say that children prefer WoO over Wicked, because three friends who are 10 in my class prefer Wicked too

  10. There would be no wicked or The Wiz for that matter without the Wizard of Oz which was nominated for six Academy awards lost best picture to Gone With the Wind. I’ve seen Wicked 3 times and love it but you’re comparing apples to oranges

  11. I love both the wizard of oz and wicked they say every story has two sides so I don’t think you com playing about it. It can be for both children and adults and thay are both musicals and have cd the all kids can sing to I was in a drama show of wicked and I got the part of Glinda the good witch of the south and best friend got Elphaba the wicked witch of the west back in 2010 and everyone love it I’ve seen both musicals for my birthday for 5 times through the years

  12. – In Wicked, Fiyero goes undercover as a scarecrow in order to run away with Elphaba as the angry mob comes after her. –

    This is not correct. Undercover??? Fiyero is captured by the Wizards’ guards and put in a field. Then Elphaba casts a spell to try and save him from death. She makes sure he ‘doesn’t bleed’, ‘bones don’t break’, and that he ‘feels no pain’ (listen to the lyrics or No Good Deed) and by doing this she turns him into the scarecrow.

    Elphaba tries to do good but it does not go entirely how she meant (as a beginner witch this makes sense). Therefore, by saving the lion cub, she accidently turns hum into a coward, the Cowardly Lion is made. When trying to save Boq from Nessa’s spell she turns him into the Tin Man. And she tries to save Fiyero turning him into the Scarecrow.

    That is the whole idea of Wicked. Elphaba tries to do good but it backfires turning her into the Wicked Witch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s