Despite what some critics say about a lack of originality, Disney has been getting a lot of money through remaking their best animated films into live-action movies. So far they have done The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Dumbo, Christopher Robin, and Maleficent. That’s already a lot but far more are coming and Aladdin is one of them.
Disney’s animated Aladdin came out back in 1992 and was a huge hit, winning two Academy Awards, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song for “A Whole New World.” So of course Disney wants to milk that cow, to relive its success.
So here is what we know so far about the upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin.
10 CGI Will Smith Genie
This decision got a lot of backlash. Disney must have expected it though, as how could they top Robin William’s performance in the original film? However, a lot of fans and critics alike have agreed that the CGI Will Smith Genie is in the uncanny valley realm of design.
When you have CGI characters today like Thanos that are not real but are accepted as real enough by the audience, fans likely had much higher expectations of Genie’s design. The major flaw is that Will Smith’s Genie looks too human. But who knows? Maybe he can knock the other parts of being Genie out of the ball park.
9 Guy Ritchie As Director
The director and writer for Aladdin’s live-action remake has also directed films like 2009’s Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, and Revolver.
He has been known as an unusual choice for Disney but the more movie fans thought about it, the more Ritchie made sense. Ritchie’s movies have a love of streetwise protagonists and who is more streetwise in Disney than Aladdin the “street rat?”
He’s not known for kids’ films. However, Ritchie has been quoted as saying, “I have five kids. I know more about kids movies than I do about any other movies and in turn, I know more about Disney movies than any other brand of movies. So, it's a wheelhouse in which I'm well familiar. And I'm impressed with the quality of children's product.”
8 It Will Be Musical
Disney had trouble finding actors to play the character leads that could meet all their requirements. One requirement was that the actors could sing, meaning that music will play a big part in the film. Guy Ritchie said early on that it would be tough to not make the movie musical.
Besides just singing, Disney made sure to choose cast actors with Indian or Middle-Eastern decent. For Aladdin and Jasmine, they also looked for actors in their mid-20s.
7 Mena Massoud As Aladdin
Aladdin’s character will be played by Canadian actor, Mena Massoud. He met the requirements, being 27-years-old and also having descended from Egypt. Besides that information, he is a bit of an unknown element. He has appeared in T.V. shows like Open Heart.
So Massoud certainly won big for a young and mostly unknown actor. For a time, people were guessing the Aladdin role would go to British actor and musician, Riz Ahmed. However, it was Massoud!
It will be exciting to see this new and upcoming actor in action.
6 Naomi Scott As Jasmine
Naomi Scott is a British actor and singer, known for her role as the Pink Ranger from 2017’s Power Rangers and television series like Lewis.
There has been some controversy to her playing the role of Jasmine however. Being a biracial mix of British and Gujarati Indian descent, many people are worried that Disney is making South Asian and Middle Eastern people interchangeable. After all, Hollywood has always had a negative history when it comes to casting people of color.
The controversy is a branch off of what made Aladdin a controversial movie in the first place.
Besides Scott's controversy.
5 Marwan Kenzari As Jafar
Sometimes the Disney villains are even more memorable than the heroes, making their casting just as (if not more) important. Kenzari is a Dutch- Tunisian actor recognized for roles in movies like The Mummy and The Promise.
As for community reactions, the consensus is that he’s hot. He’s obviously talented, but the eye-candy aspect of a villain does not hurt in a gritty live-action remake.
4 Jasmine’s Character Will Be More Explored
Naomi Scott has said to The Hollywood Reporter “I love what Disney is doing at the moment with their princesses — going from animation to live-action and making those animated characters real human beings. Being a female character is also about being a real person, and guess what? [She] can be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional. She’s a multidimensional woman, and she doesn’t have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married.”
One way that we get to see more of Jasmine is actually from a new character. She’ll have an actual human friend to talk to rather than a pet tiger.
3 Animal Side Characters
Animal sidekicks are all over the place in animated Disney films, which brings up a lot of questions when it comes to their live-action remakes. In the animated films, they are more than just pets. They have human characteristics, especially Iago who could just talk as much as a person.
A CGI Abu, Iago, and Rajah are definitely in the film but they definitely will not be as human-like. Abu is easy to see, but Rajah and Iago are in the background in the trailers.
Disney proved it can CGI any animal when they remade The Jungle Book. But do not expect these animals to talk or have a role besides looking cute or just awesome.
2 New Characters
Of course we do not want remakes to be exactly like the animated versions. That would be boring. So there are new characters. One such character is Mara, Jasmine’s friend and handmaiden. Mara seems like a good addition to further explore Jasmine’s character and also a way to add more female characters. To make that character even more fun, a Saturday Night Live alum, Nasim Pedrad, an Iranian-American actress will play her.
Billy Magnussen will be playing a new character as well, Prince Anders. That got a lot of backlash since a white person was just written into the script. It’s easy to theorize that Prince Anders will be a potential suitor for Jasmine.
Lastly there is Hakim, who will be played by Numan Acar. What we know of Hakim is that he is chief of the guards and Jafar’s right-hand man. He may be somewhat of a replacement for Iago’s role.
1 Navid Negahban As Sultan
Navid Negahban has had many roles in film, television, and video games. The Sultan is not a major character, but he is well-remembered none-the-less in the animated film. He was a very kid-friendly character for being a lovable fool. It brings to question how he will be written in a live-action version. He so rarely left his palace that he did not know about Agrabah’s poverty in the animated series.