Continuity in film and TV has always been a problem in bringing logic to those who think fiction should align perfectly with reality. One of the worst problems in that arena is when a respected and favorite actor or actress leaves an indelible mark on a role, but decides not to return to do a follow up. In the case of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland", there seems to be a divisive camp on whether Mia Wasikowska should ever return as the most brilliant interpretation of Lewis Carroll's Alice in film and TV history.
Call me a believer in Wasikowska's subtle acting prowess that enabled her to bring a very fascinating Alice seen through fresh eyes. Once people get past the issue that her Alice acted indifferent because she was in a dream, you can enjoy Wasikowska's revealing of Alice's vulnerable and more mature soul. And despite Burton's 2010 "Wonderland" already being a sequel to the original books, let's admit the arc of Alice growing into a complex adult had enough interest to warrant a continuation in the scheduled movie sequel.
The question now is whether Wasikowska will want to return to the role of Alice. Considering she's the busiest actress in the indie film world lately, the chances seem remote for the time being. Let's remember, though, that this refreshed Alice fits in with the actress's philosophy on what she looks for in a role, namely a misfit growing into adulthood and finding a path toward independence.
An "Alice" sequel will have to cast Alice as an early 20-something adult who taps into her Wonderland dreams to work out very adult problems. Call it cinematic Freudian dreams if you want, except for the fact that an adult Alice is potentially very intoxicating if Wasikowska interprets her in maturity. Otherwise, casting a new Alice will bring the earlier-mentioned problem: Believability and dealing with an actress of diminished acting gifts.
Adding to the above problem is that Johnny Depp will also have to return as the Mad Hatter. With his film career a bit in limbo right now and the first "Alice" making a fortune, it seems a solid bet he'll return. However, the chemistry between Wasikowska and Depp had something going for it that can't be repeated with someone else.
Would the film go ahead if Wasikowska refuses to take on the sequel? She said not long after the original film released that she didn't love interacting with a green screen and instead preferring movies with real people. The same goes for the action stunts that put her in physical extremes more than once.
Should they cast a different Alice, the audition process would have to go back to the lengthy Scarlett O'Hara phase in finding the perfect one. If they ever find one that's comparable, the film will have to stand on its own as a separate alternate universe from the first. This isn't to say such a thing can't be done in film for those who don't mind pretzel logic in continuity.
Or perhaps it becomes a dangerous situation of a movie having so much clout that the producers will literally draft Wasikowska to come back. Outside of politics, we haven't seen drafting for casting a favorite actor or actress in a particular movie. What we don't know is whether an acting career can be compromised if that actress defies all attempts at such a draft.
So much for the phrase "off with their heads!" again repeating by the Queen of Spades.