John Banks is the rambunctious young son of Michael Banks who heartily embraces living with his Aunt Jane, sister, Annabel, and brother, Georgie in Mary Poppins Returns. He would love nothing more than to help his family avoid losing their home, but his financial abilities are not quite up to standards.
When Mary Poppins arrives, however, his enthusiasm and pure heart seem to meet their match.
Nathanael Saleh makes his feature film debut as John. He started performing as age three, singing songs and giving recitations to family and friends. At age five, he followed his older brother, Asher, to become a member of Playbox Theatre at the Dream Factory in Warwick, England, gaining his first speaking role just a year later as Brian in O.U.T. Spells Out, a powerful recollection of the forced emigration of children from the United Kingdom to Australia in the 1950s.
This was followed by roles in a number of Playbox Theatre productions: Lone Wolf in Peter Pan (2014), ensemble and understudy for Flounder in The Little Mermaid (2015), and Chip Potts in Beauty and the Beast (2016).
Role in the film
John is introduced during the musical number "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky" alongside Annabel at the beginning of the film. He, Annabel, and Georgie go downstairs while the lawyers, Hamilton Gooding and Templeton Frye, prepare to have a conversation with Michael just as John, Annabel, and Georgie leave for the park.
At the park, John, Annabel, and Georgie encounter Miss Lark and her pet dog, Willoughby, to which they chase the runaway kite, much to the Park Keeper's warning about staying off the grass. Georgie grabs the kite during a strong wind just as John and Annabel plan to save him; the wind, however, stops when Mary Poppins arrives toward them, telling them to be more careful when flying the kite just as she takes them home. As she does so, Michael and Jane are happy to see her back. Just as John, Annabel, and Georgie talk to her in their bedroom, they arrive at the bathroom where she sings the musical number "Can You Imagine That?" just as she transforms the ordinary bathtub into a magical one. They dive in and end up in an underwater world sequence alongside her. As they swim along, they encounter a pod of dolphins putting them into bubbles to reach the surface as Mary pops them so they can stay with her. Just as the pod of dolphins leap across the bathtub, Mary opens the drain plug, causing her, John, Annabel, and Georgie to end up back home.
Back at home, John, Annabel, and Georgie talk to Michael about their adventure under the sea much to him not having time to talk, saying that he is looking for his document which is due by Friday at midnight. Mary tells John and Annabel to put the books back on the shelf and Georgie to take out the rubbish to which he grabs a drawing of his family while carrying it out. At the nursery, Mary tells John to help out the maid, Ellen, in the kitchen, Annabel to do the laundry, and Georgie to fix the broken kite Michael used to play with. While Mary talks to Jack outside where he tells her that he has seen the Banks family ever since, John, Annabel, and Georgie fight over the Royal Doulton bowl, causing it to crack. Mary then spins it, causing her, Jack, John, Annabel, and Georgie to end up in the animated sequence where all the inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals. At Shamus' carriage, they fix it just as he takes them across the animated sequence.
During the musical number "The Royal Doulton Music Hall", Mary, Jack, John, Annabel, and Georgie stroll across the animated sequence just as John, Annabel, and Georgie, watch Jack and Mary perform on stage with all the anthropomorphic animals, including the Penguin Waiters, during the musical number "A Cover is Not the Book". After the performance, John, Annabel, and Georgie notice that their plush giraffe, Gillie, is stolen by the Wolf. They board Shamus' carriage just as he and Clyde agree to help them; they manage to save Gillie from the Wolf and his henchmen, the Badger and the Weasel, as they fall off the edge of the bowl. Back at home, Mary tells them that they must be having a nightmare during the chase sequence where she sings to them that nothing is lost forever, comforting them and telling them to sleep.
Mary, Jack, John, Annabel, and Georgie leave home while Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle fire their cannon to mark the signal just as they arrive at Topotrepolovsky's All Repairs Large and Small Fix-it Shop to fix the broken bowl where they encounter Topsy who refuses to let them in. Barging in, they encounter her again and she refuses to fix the bowl at first because of Second Wednesday. She then introduces them in her shop about everything going topsy-turvy in there. She, however, agrees to accept Mary's request to fix the bowl just as they leave.
Walking across London, Mary, Jack, John, Annabel, and Georgie encounters Jane again and Jack encourages her to ride on his bike just as they arrive at the bank to see William Weatherall Wilkins who would help with the Banks' home while John, Annabel, and Georgie explore the bank. They encounter Penny Farthing who talks to him as they wait outside. It is later found out that he is identical to the Wolf from the animated sequence who is also an obstacle in both the real world and the animated sequence just as John, Annabel, and Georgie tell Michael about this; he, however, refuses to believe them just as he tells Mary to take them home, despite that they are telling the truth. On their way home, they discuss about Wilkins' true nature. Back at home, Michael is very upset with them telling him that he could have lost his job to which John explains that they are trying to help to which he denies, warning him that their home is about to be repossessed.
During the musical number "Trip a Little Light Fantastic", Jack shows Mary, John, Annabel, and Georgie across the street encountering a group of lamplighters; Jack and the lamplighters dance together on Cherry Tree Lane just as Mary, John, Annabel, and Georgie return home.
Seeing the Certificate of Shares printed backwards on the kite patched up by John, Annabel, and Georgie, Michael realizes that this is linked to the bank, having only about seven minutes till midnight to which Michael plans to return to the bank while Mary agrees to help John, Annabel, and Georgie turn back time with help from Jack. As they watch Jack and Mary working together, she manages to help him stop Big Ben before it strikes midnight to which afterward, she tells him to relight it much to Wilkins' chagrin. Just as he refuses to accept the certificate all patched up together, Michael tells him that John, Annabel, and Georgie are telling the truth just as his uncle, Mr. Dawes Jr., confronts him for his lies and deception to the Banks family, telling Gooding and Frye to take him away.
With Wilkins gone, the Banks family retains their home back just as Mary happily watches them and everyone else happily using balloons during the musical number "Nowhere to Go But Up" just as the Balloon Lady gives the Banks family each a balloon. Mary, however, lets hers go just as she bids farewell to the Banks family. As everyone has fun using the balloons, the Banks family returns home as Mary leaves via her umbrella to mark the end of the film.