Disney's 2019 live-action Aladdin remake updates the original animated movie and expands the character of Jasmine, making her the best Disney princess. Disney has fully embraced the practice of revisiting its animated classics and adapting them to live-action for new moviegoing experiences. Many of these - like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, The Jungle Book and Aladdin - are direct adaptations of the animated Disney movies, rather than drawing inspiration from the stories and legends on which the originals were based. However, to further differentiate the live-action remakes, Disney filmmakers often update and/or "fix" aspects of the animated movies that wouldn't work today.
In the case of Aladdin, the remake changes the racist aspects of the original movie, and casts people of color in the main roles of Aladdin (Mena Massoud), Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and Genie (Will Smith), as well as all the supporting roles. However, one of the biggest changes in Aladdin comes with regard to Jasmine. Though she's the Disney Princess in the original animated movie, her story takes a back seat to that of the titular hero. In 2019's Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie from a script he co-wrote with John August, the character of Jasmine is greatly expanded.
As a result, the Aladdin live-action reimagining's Jasmine is the best Disney princess. Ritchie and August, as well as Scott, were already working from one of Disney's more progressive animated characters, but the way they expand Jasmine works much better in Aladdin than other recent live-action remakes. So Disney took one of their most dynamic and well-developed princess characters and made her even more dynamic and well-developed. The 2019 Aladdin effectively turns Jasmine into the best Disney Princess.
Jasmine In Aladdin 1992 Was Already Quite Progressive
In recent years, Disney has made great strides in subverting their own princess archetype, beginning with the start of the Disney Revival in 2009's The Princess and the Frog. Tiana isn't the helpless heroine of the Disney Golden Age, nor the still dependent, if somewhat more progressive princesses of the Disney Renaissance. Further, Frozen subverted the true love romantic narrative upheld by most Disney movies, as did Moana, who didn't have a love interest at all and directly called out the Disney Princess trope. But while Disney's most progressive princesses have arrived as part of the Disney Revival era, the Mouse House was already setting the stage in the 80s and 90s during the Disney Renaissance.
In an era that also includes Beauty and the Beast's Belle, The Little Mermaid's Ariel, Hercules' Megara, and Mulan, Jasmine is already one of the more progressive princess characters of the Disney Renaissance. In 1992's Aladdin, Jasmine may not be the main character like many Disney Princesses, but that may have given the studio the freedom to develop her character in an atypical direction for their movies. She's rebelling against her father the Sultan and the law that would force her to marry, as well as, on a larger scale, the institution of arranged marriage. Although many of the princess characters in Disney Renaissance movies can be characterized as women rebelling against convention, Aladdin's Jasmine is rebellious on a larger scale than most of the others (with the exception of Mulan).
So Disney and Ritchie's Aladdin remake is already working from a source material with an incredibly well-developed and strong female character, but the live-action film's updates and changes effectively expand upon the character to make Jasmine even better.
Naomi Scott's Jasmine Is Stronger In Aladdin 2019
In expanding Jasmine's role in Aladdin, Ritchie and August make the character more integral to the story, and they give her the goal of being Sultan as her major motivation, rather than wanting to marry for love. Certainly, Scott's Jasmine still values romantic love over a marriage of political alliance, as evidenced by her relationship to Prince Ali/Aladdin, but it's secondary to her love for her people. Instead of her arc being motivated by an arguably selfish reason, one that is understandable especially to a Western audience, 2019's Aladdin has Jasmine motivated by her love for her people. And Aladdin makes it clear that Jasmine is very capable of being the successful ruler she aims to be.
Many of Disney's live-action remakes have tried to "fix" their main female characters by giving them more modern aspirations. The result, though, has been shoehorned interests - often in STEM fields - in Disney's reimaginings, including both Beauty and the Beast and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. However, where these "fixes" didn't necessarily make sense or weren't well-developed, Jasmine's desire to be Sultan and her political knowledge as a ruler of Agrabah are a logical extension of her being princess. It makes sense that Jasmine would know Agrabah the best and that she believes she'd be a better ruler than a prince from another kingdom; it works to both develop Jasmine's character further and update her for a modern audience.
Plus, since Jasmine is positioned as the major political obstacle to Jafar's (Marwan Kenzari) villainous plan of taking over Agrabah, she becomes more key to the main story of Aladdin.
Jasmine's New Song "Speechless" Is A (Mostly) Good Addition
Jasmine plays an important role in the climactic showdowns with Jafar in Aladdin's third act, being the one to trust Aladdin's story of Jafar trying to kill him, then her speech that effectively takes away his power as Sultan (after only becoming Sultan through a genie wish). Her big moment also comes with a new song added specifically for Jasmine, who in the original animated movie only sings on "A Whole New World," a duet with Aladdin. "Speechless" is a new addition for the live-action reimagining that gives Jasmine her own musical number, and one that helps to develop her character, showcasing her struggle between feeling silenced and learning to use her voice to make changes for the better.
Arguably, "Speechless" doesn't fit all that well into Aladdin, as it sounds quite different from the other music in the remake, all of which is directly adapted from the animated film. It also feels a little shoehorned into the movie and isn't overly important to the plot, more operating as insight into Jasmine's internal monologue. But "Speechless" is a good song nonetheless and helps to develop Jasmine's character beyond what was portrayed in the 1992 movie.
Further, "Speechless" sets the stage for Jasmine's new ending, which differs in one big way from the original.
Aladdin's New Ending Gives Jasmine What She Always Deserved
The 1992 animated Aladdin ends with Jasmine and Aladdin being able to marry because her father abolishes the law that states she must marry a prince. Although Jasmine gets what she wants - a marriage of love rather than political alliance or arranged by her father - it's only because her father changes the law. In the new ending, though, Jasmine has much more agency, finally convincing her father that she should be Sultan despite it going against tradition (the Aladdin remake makes it clear that it's not illegal for a woman to become Sultan, it's just not customary). Then it's Jasmine who abolishes the marriage law, giving herself the freedom to pursue a relationship with Aladdin.
The ending makes more sense for both Jasmine and Aladdin, with Jasmine the Sultan and Aladdin her husband. After all, she's the one who's been taught about Agrabah's larger political relationship with other kingdoms of the region. While Aladdin may know Agrabah well, and may be a kind, generous man, Jasmine is much more qualified to be Sultan. So the ending of 2019's Aladdin sees the right person become Sultan, giving Jasmine the ending she always truly deserved with both her kingdom and the man she loves.
Altogether, the changes made to Jasmine's storyline and the expansion of her character work to effectively develop her character. She ultimately becomes the best Disney Princess, building off an already incredibly solid character and becoming a more well-developed and modern heroine. Jasmine always had the potential as one of Disney's best characters, but the Aladdin remake officially makes her the best Disney Princess.
- Aladdin (2019) release date: May 24, 2019