Fueled by inspiration from the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, Adventure Time thrived on fantastical weirdness for 10 seasons. Set in the magical post-apocalyptic land of Ooo with a population of candy people, wizards, a last-of-his-kind human boy and his stretchy dog pal, and other oddball entities, the Emmy-winning kid-friendly Cartoon Network series was notorious for shenanigans, psychedelic realms, and an occasion dive into dark existentialism.
After wrapping up in 2018, the creators of Adventure Time embarked on a follow-up consisting of four 45-min specials. First was the cutesy BMO-centered installment BMO. The second was Obsidian, which dove into the loving yet fraught happily-ever-after between Bubblegum and Marceline. The third installment, Together Again, followed Finn and Jake into the afterlife, and found that the power of friendship transcends life and death.
At the show’s San Diego Comic-Con 2021 panel on Friday, moderator Bex Taylor-Klaus discussed the tearjerky third Distant Land special Together Again and teased the upcoming fourth and final installment: Wizard City, which carves out the backstory of Peppermint Butler, the candy assistant to Princess Bubblegum. The panelists were executive producer Adam Muto and voice actors John DiMaggio, Mace Montgomery Miskel, and Toks Olagundoye.
“When we left Peppermint Butler, he was kind of restarting,” Muto said. What would his story be that would be way different than Finn and Jake?” It was a chance to explore the lore of [Wizard City].” Wizard City will explore young Peppermint Butler’s enrollment in a wizard school in Wizard City, a location introduced in season 4.
An adult Peppermint Butler was last seen aiding Finn’s and Jake’s spirits in Together Again, and he was still a mischievous practitioner of the dark arts (he stole Finn’s bones but at least asked permission to use them for a spell). Fans also learned that Peppermint Butler assumed the role of Princess of Candy Kingdom, succeeding Princess Bubblegum.
The Adventure Time specials have a way of trolling around with structure and expectations of the timeline. Not that Peppermint Butler isn’t a beloved character, but it can seem a little dubious that the final slice of Distant Lands focuses on the past of arguably the least momentous and weighty side character, compared to the other miniseries stars, BMO, Marceline, and Princess Bubblegum.
Regardless if Adventure Time will deploy any bombshells with Wizard City, Peppermint Butler’s checkered past is ripe for exploration and comedic possibilities. Throughout Adventure Time, a running gag is made of the qualities that gave him a “Dark One” reputation, which included an acquaintance with Death.
Miskel, who was 11 years old when he auditioned for Wizard City, steps into the place of Steve Little to voice young Pep. Olagundoye will voice Dr. Caledonius and Taylor-Klaus will voice Blaine. “I find her really wacky and wonderful like there’s this energy I think is really effervescent,” Olagundoye said.
On the idea of returning to the story of Finn and Jake, Muto responded, “It’s just whether somebody finds a different angle on a franchise with characters who feels like there’s never an ending, necessarily, which it’s heartening and kind of scary.” He continues, “But I do want to be careful not to step on the episode that came before. There isn’t a desire to do something just do it but find a different form. That’s what these specials were.”
The panel did not debut a clip but showed a Wizard City key art by Joy Ang with a uniformed young Pep summoning a rune with two companions.
Wizard City is expected to stream on HBO Max later this year. The previous three Distant Lands specials are currently on the platform.