Wilkins drives the main conflict of the film, as he seeks to repossess the Banks' home, to the point of burning important records left by George Banks that would have saved the house. He is using advantage of the Great Depression to repossess people's houses, for pretty much no reason.
While Wilkins acts polite and charming when we first see him, he is actually a ruthless and corrupt corporate executive. This is represented in the Royal Dalton Bowl, where his counterpart is a wolf who pretends to be as docile as a lamb, signifying how he is a metaphorical "wolf in sheep's clothing".
Role in the film
Wilkins first appears about 30 minutes into the film, when Michael Banks and his sister, Jane, come to talk with Wilkins about locating their father George's shares in the bank. Wilkins, feigning sympathy, pretends that he has no record of George on file. But he tells them that they have until Friday at midnight, to repay their loan or locate the shares certificate. After they leave, Wilkins reveals his true nature by revealing George's file, tearing it up, and throwing it into a fire to destroy any evidence of the shares.
One day, Wilkins is talking to his lawyers, Hamilton Gooding and Templeton Frye, who inform him that the bank has repossessed 19 houses within a week. While congratulating them for their work, Wilkins informs them of his plan to repossess the Banks' home even if they prove their shares, and the Banks' children overhear him and his plan. They immediately chase them to Michael where Wilkins denies it, and Michael orders Mary Poppins to take them home.
On Friday night, Wilkins is at the bank, counting down the time before midnight. Just when Big Ben is supposed to strike midnight, Wilkins is perplexed as to why it is not chiming and Gooding and Frye inform him that Big Ben's lights are out. Even though his watch chimes at midnight, Big Ben doesn't start up again until after midnight and it gives Michael and Jane an extra 10 minutes to reach the bank and prove their shares. Upon seeing them arriving, Wilkins has Gooding and Frye rush downstairs to lock the door. However, he suddenly sees a kite fly into his office and, soon afterwards, Jane, Michael, Jack, and Mary reach the room where they tell Wilkins they located the certificate.
Upon watching Jane Michael put the certificate together, Wilkins informs them that they are missing the piece of the certificate with George's signatures all over it, and Wilkins is about to claim victory, when suddenly, his uncle, Mr. Dawes Jr., arrives in the room. Tired of how morally bankrupt Wilkins is, Mr. Dawes Jr. reveals that the tuppence Michael deposited in the first film was invested and gathered enough interest to be able to save the Banks' home. In the process, Mr. Dawes Jr. fires Wilkins and asks Gooding and Frye to escort him away. This, in turn, shows that Mr. Dawes Jr.'s redemption since the first film is permanent.
- Colin Firth, who played Wilkins, also voiced the wolf in the animated sequence of the film. This implies that the wolf is his animated representation (signifying how he is a metaphorical "wolf in sheep's clothing") and thus allows the Banks children to realize that he isn't what he seems to be.
- In spite of being Mr. Dawes Jr.'s nephew and thus Mr. Dawes Sr.'s grand nephew, Wilkins is never mentioned to have the surname "Dawes" on his name.
- Furthermore, Wilkins' existence reveals that either Mr. Dawes Sr. had at least a daughter (who wasn't seen in either film), who in turn would be Mr. Dawes Jr.'s sister or that Mr. Dawes Jr. has a wife whom we've never met, and Wilkins is on his wife's side of the family. If Wilkins was Mr. Dawes Jr.'s nephew, he would probably have "Dawes" in his name.