Jordan Peele Talks How Wendell And Wild Uses A 'Running Theme' From His Other Movies

Jordan Peele in The Twilight Zone.
(Image credit: Paramount Plus)

Wendell & Wild is the latest cinematic offering to be the beneficiary of Jordan Peele's creativity. While the Get Out and Us filmmaker didn't actually helm the movie, his fingerprints can still be felt over it, given his touch as a producer. Henry Selick's stop-motion film is actually quite similar to Peele’s past fare, as it mixes fright and fear with social commentary. But the connection between the Netflix film and Peele's live-action movies goes beyond those things. According to the Oscar-winning director, there is a "running theme" that it shares with his other productions.

The Netflix animated film is a dark but sweet coming-of-age story. The Wendell & Wild cast is stacked, and Lyric Ross plays the lead character, a young teen named Kat. The punk rock-loving protagonist has a rough upbringing, which started with the premature deaths of her parents. During an interview, the Nope director explained how the orphan storyline is a through-line of sorts within his filmography:

The film is a very dark sort of horror story in one way and in another way, it's an extremely empowering story. All these characters, I think it’s kind of a running theme in my films, I’m used to having a bit of an orphan connection. I don’t know if that’s something that’s just kind of common that we all have it, or if it’s something deeper than that, but there’s something about making your own way in the world and having to put together your own pieces at some point that these characters share with many of my other characters.

It's always interesting to hear the Key & Peele alum share insight like this. It's true that each of one his movies thus far features a main character with no parental influence amid their creepy situation, and that affects their storyline in an adverse way. As Jordan Peele mentioned, his main characters were left to find their own way in the world. That was somewhat true for Us' Addy/Red, played by Lupita Nyong'o (whose research required her to watch 10 horror movies). Just like Kat, Addy faced her demons while doing battle with Red (despite the incredible twist).

In Wendell & Wild, the titular brothers add a bit of horror and comedy to Kat’s “finding-yourself-after-a-tragic-loss” storyline. This is a story that really adds new meaning to the notion of "confronting your demons." Peele further explained to Vanity Fair just how the two characters play into the orphaned schoolgirl's journey and mindset:

Wendell and Wild represent her personal demons of guilt and anger. This story is about conquering your personal demon as much as learning how to wear your fears. Allowing them to shape your power as opposed to your failures or your downside.

What's really great about the film is that it allows the Black female character to be vulnerable while she attempts to combat her childhood trauma. It tackles everything head-on without playing into the “strong Black female” trope. It's impressive that Jordan Peele is able to tell such diverse stories while still managing to create a seamless sense of creative continuity through his productions, thanks to their themes.

Of course, the animated film comes on the heels of the blockbuster success of Jordan Peele’s Nope. His next directorial effort is unknown, but Peele has been teasing a potential sequel to his latest. In the meantime, check out Wendell & Wild using a Netflix subscription and see how it compares to Peele's other his movie and TV projects.

Adreon Patterson
News Writer

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).