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“Woke” Opposition Rejoice as Disney’s Latest Live-Action Decision Means They’re Finally Listening

Snow White Seven Dwarfs Movie Theatres Live Action Remake
Credit: Disney / Canva

Could Disney and Bob Iger have changed their tune regarding their approach to live-action remakes?

October 2023 brought some very interesting news related to the upcoming Disney live-action remake Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Originally slated to release in a few months, the highly controversial upcoming project is now projected to debut in 2025!

snow white seven dwarfs live action remakes

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Announces a New Film Will Take the Place of Its Live-Action ‘Snow White’

The Walt Disney Company leaked the information to audiences and fans as many have cited a serious need for change regarding Disney’s newest live-action remake.

In addition to the news that Rachel Zegler’s feminist take of Snow White would have to wait well over another year to be ripped apart by audiences and critics, they did include a first look at the beloved dwarfs from the original story, which has also been a focal point of contention for Disney fans.

Disney’s History of Live-Action Remakes

In an age where original content not named Star Wars or Marvel hasn’t shown stellar performance for Walt Disney animation, the entertainment company’s strategy has been to recapture the original magic of Disney’s “Golden” and “Renaissance” eras of animated film. 

Drawing on emotional nostalgia surrounding childhood heroes and villains, The Walt Disney Company has pushed a series of live-action remakes, including titles such as The Lion King (2019), Beauty and the Beast (2017), The Jungle Book (2016), and The Little Mermaid (2023).

disney mulan 2020 live action remake sword red robe mountain

Credit: Disney

Related: Best and Worst of Disney Live-Action Remakes So Far

The company experienced early success with its live-action remake strategy, with movies like The Lion KingBeauty and the Beast, and Aladdin (2019) performing well. However, despite star power like Will Smith, Johnny Depp, Emma Stone, Angelina Jolie, Emma Watson, and Josh Gad, the experience of seeing our favorite Disney stories retold became stale. 

Disney Changes Tactics as the World Continues to Turn

It wasn’t necessarily the idea of taking beloved classic stories and retelling them through live-action filmography that became problematic for Disney and CEO Bob Iger.

Instead, as social pressure from external noise regarding hot-button issues pressed hard on the outspoken Walt Disney Company, ultimately, executives caved by using their live-action platforms to push agendas and make boisterous protestors happy.

Beauty and the Beast - Josh Gad

Credit: Disney

Related: Josh Gad Says Disney “Should Have Gone Further” With Gay Character

In doing so, Disney inadvertently, although it’s difficult to understand how they weren’t able to project this, alienated large chunks of their traditional audience.

Although social issues are important and representation matters, the idea of Disney rests in telling stories that offer an escape from the stresses and responsibilities of everyday life. In a world where news, social media, and everyone else is pushing, telling audiences what to think, who to love, and who to vote for, Disney lost the sense of escape where many found refuge.

As well, Disney also got away from live-action strategies that worked well in box offices. Instead of taking beloved characters such as Alice, the Mad Hatter, or Maleficent and retelling a brand new story that audiences have never seen, Disney began using acclaimed and precious linear retellings of classics while making tone-deaf changes that audiences eventually stopped caring about.

Best and Worst of Disney Live-Action Remakes So Far

Credit: Disney/ Canva

Related: Casting Call Issued for Roles in Disney’s Potential Live-Action ‘Frozen’ Project

Leave Walt Disney’s Legacy Alone

Walt Disney is the man behind some of our favorite stories. Through humble beginnings, Walt and fellow animators like Ub Iwerks, spent years building Walt Disney Animation into the leading studio in the world.

Not only did Walt and Co. create amazing full-length animated features for the first time, but they also created new technologies that would revolutionize the way the world watched cartoons.

John Hench and Walt Disney with a model of Disneyland

John Hench and Walt Disney discuss plans for Disneyland/Credit: Walt Disney Archives.

For this reason, many hold Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disney’s first full-length animated feature film, as the holy grail of animation. Without Snow White and those dwarfs, we’d never have Cinderella, Ariel, Pocahontas, or Elsa and Anna.

Although Disney has done justice with other early Disney classics, such as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2016), many feel that making creative and sometimes politically driven changes to Disney’s early works in live-action remakes is a slap to the face of his legacy that the entire entertainment world is now built upon.

Recent Disney Live-Action Flops

Before we get to the newest live-action Disney film, let’s dive into a few other attempts at recapitalizing the original content by Disney.

Well before Rachel Zegler loudly told the world that her Snow White would be a feminist version of the classic character, the Disney community prepared itself for an underwater adventure featuring Halle Bailey, an African-American actress, as the lead in The Little Mermaid.

Many Disney fans quickly pointed out the inaccuracies regarding the obvious fact that unlike Jodi Benson’s Ariel from the 1989 animated original, Halle Bailey isn’t white. Surprisingly, this caused a huge disturbance online, with many boycotting the film as “woke.” Assumably, the thought was that Disney, who has toyed around with ideas such as including homosexual characters in their live-action remakes, was attempting to make a loud statement by casting a relatively unknown black actress as the lead in such an anticipated movie.

halle bailey (forefront) during ABC interview, Live-Action Little Mermaid poster (background)

Credit: Disney, ABC, Canva

Related: Democrats and Republicans Unite Towards a Common Enemy: Disney Live-Action Remakes

Other issues of note among some with recent live-action remakes are the exclusion of popular characters like Mushu in Mulan (2020). The 2020 film was beautiful to look at, but lacked the essence of story-telling as Disney strayed too far from the original content that made the animated version a classic.

This seems to be a trend with Disney’s live-action strategy; instead of telling a new story, they stick loosely to the original content while taking creative liberties in films such as Dumbo (2019), Pinocchio (2022), Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), and Christopher Robin (2018).

Controversy over Rachel Zegler and Her Dwarfs

On the announcement of casting Rachel Zegler as the lead for Disney’s upcoming live-action take on Disney’s original princess, deja vu set in for fans as many made quick work of the obvious difference between the 1937 version of Snow White and the upcoming version. Zegler, who’s mother is of Colombian descent, lacks “snow white” skin. Fans were quick to condemn her portrayal.

Rachel Zegler didn’t do herself any favors in the eyes of the Disney community by quickly noting that her take on Snow White would be more independent and feminine compared to Walt Disney’s version.

Zegler, a woman’s rights activist, is viewed as extreme by many, and as Snow White, like many original princesses, relies on her prince to save the day, Zegler wasn’t having any of it. It appeared that Disney would cave to her creative demands, further distancing the company from its audience.

Study Proves That Disney Is Making a Big Mistake With Their ‘Snow White’ Live-Action Remake

Credit: Disney/Canva

Related: Disney’s Next Live-Action Remake May Have Found Its Leading Man

As well, rumors began to swirl regarding images captured on set featuring the infamous seven dwarfs.

The photos in question didn’t depict anything close to what fans were expecting, leading some to believe that Disney was actually doing away with the traditional characters from the original story, instead incorporating a diverse group of humans. This caused an uproar on social media, with many who were hanging on by a thread finally cutting themselves off from Disney altogether.

snow white live action remake rachel zegler seven dwarfs disney disney princess

Credit: Splashnews.com and Daily Mail

The final nail in the coffin for those who still held out hope that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs would redeem Disney’s latest live-action strategy were immature comments made by Rachel Zelger comparing her time in a dress on the set of the film to the hardships faced by less-wealthy actors as the SAG-AFTRA strikes carry on.

Disney May Have Removed the Wax From Their Ears

Despite constant pleading from fans of classic Disney films, it felt like Bob Iger and Bob Chapek (Disney’s former CEO) remained defiant of how they were perceived by their own audience. As third-quarter earnings showed a dip in both domestic Disney Parks and theatre attendance, Disney was continuing on with their agenda-based programming, according to many.

Despite calls to cancel Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney plowed ahead with the new film, despite a general distaste for Rachel Zegler and the animator’s caution regarding the importance of the original work.

However, there may be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel as Disney released a still image yesterday showing CGI dwarfs, as we’d expect to see alongside Zegler’s Snow White character.

snow white live action remake rachel zegler seven dwarfs disney disney princess David hand

Credit: Disney

Related: Walt Would Turn Over in His Grave: Each Live-Action Remake Is an Insult to Disney’s Legacy

As well, some feel that Disney’s pushback on the premiere of their latest live-action remake could mean that they are addressing serious issues within the film that are most likely going to alienate their audience further. As Disney has extensive plans for future projects like Robin HoodLilo & StitchMoana, and The Sword in the Stone, it’s imperative that they strategically ensure Snow White is a total success in its delivery and acceptance by audiences.

So, what do you think? Could Disney’s delay of Snow White mean they are finally changing aspects of the film that have kept audiences at home? Let us know in the comments. 

The views in this article are purely speculative and in no way inform the actual attitudes and beliefs of this site or The Walt Disney Company.

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!

27 comments

  1. Man, I wish I could summon this amount of vitriol about any thing…. I don’t think I’d waste it on live-action Disney movies weird casting choices though. I’d probably want to use it against hate or something.

    • They. Kind of did use it against hate tho.

    • At this point it doesn’t matter what Disney does because these fubar anti wokies are gonna whine and complain about them no matter what…

      • I did not mind the black mermaid but the songs were lackluster and not at all as good as the original. Lion King had the same issue, lackluster songs. Just use the original, they are awesome.

  2. The people shouting about the changes in skin tone of characters are the ones who most definitely do NOT accept inclusion. It really is very, VERY sad and disheartening.

    • Not the issue at all. Make a new movie if you want to change the character. Believe it or not, changing white characters to other nationalities is racist!

  3. Disney like many film studios have one big problem that’s causing flop after flop is streaming services! Why would anyone pay to see a new Disney film in the cinema when within 30 days it’s on Disney+ for FREE!! I don’t understand why these high paid people can’t see this and if they want to make money at the box office they need to release films onto streaming services a year or two later as people generally won’t want to wait that long to see it

  4. People that can’t deal with these types of changes to fairy tales are deranged infants & need to grow the heck up already.

    • But why change something that was perfect the first time round. I’m not saying don’t remake it at all although I’d prefer them not to. Just use advanced animation techniques to bring it up to modern standard. You start making drastic changes and it might as well be a new story

      • The reason that these changes are made is because the world is changing. A lot of these original films were created during a time when being anything other than a white, straight, Christian was frowned upon. Many of these films were created during the American apartheid when segregation existed and children of color didn’t have characters that looked like them that they could aspire to be more like. Today, there is more diversity in the United States and Disney recognizes that it is nice for kids and adults of different ethnic backgrounds to be represented in their films. Anyone who has a problem with a wider representation of other ethnic groups, genders, etc. are simply bigoted individuals that are struggling to come to terms with the fact that the world is changing and if they aren’t willing to move forward with the rest of the world, they will get left behind.

        • Here we go again, drag the Bigot word out ,does tend to force people into a corner mind,but hey why discuss why disagree why debate when it’s so much easier to insult.

        • You’re putting way too much faith in Disney if you really think that is the reason why these changes are being made.
          No. They reason why modern movies are like this is merely because it caters to whales. It’s more profitable. That’s it.

        • Right, Right, here we go with the company line again. We’re all bigots, ists and phobes. Unlike you, I don’t need to see someone who looks like me to enjoy a movie. Never had a problem watching and identifying with any Will Smith or Micheal B Jordan or any movie that doesn’t star “someone who looks like me” get a grip and stop segregating people based on color.

      • I agree with you 100%. Why change something that is perfect, that we all enjoyed, and love? I will not watch it if snow white story is changed. Also they should change the person playing snow white.

      • If Disney wants a black fish character or a Hispanic princess, then create new characters. Leave the original character’s origin and ethnicity alone.

        • Thank you! This is the problem. They don’t have new ideas for other nationalities so they just steal from whites and call the original movie racist.

        • Hi, it’s hard to say anything without making someone mad. So in that being said, the original work of Disney should be left alone. If they have to destroy his mater piece, then at least let it be a white person with snow white skin to play the part. They ruined Little Mermaid by changing her skin color. I can see them changing up the story a little in a live action film, but come on. I’m all for black people rights, but they don’t need to be put in every movie to set an example. We are in a time where black people can be and become even our President. So don’t ruin our beloved Snow White.

  5. These stories and films were never perfect. They perpetuate ridiculous stereotypes and antiquated views of socially acceptable roles based on a person’s gender, race, so-called “disabilities”, or any other attribute that can be discriminated against.

    I’m proud of Disney for making an effort to change the narrative of stories to be more inclusive.

  6. I find it interesting that while complaining about society pushing what people should think, he is doing the exact same thing. He is also pushing an agenda. I’m not sorry that Disney has decided to update these stories for the modern audience. The climate we live in today is anything that doesn’t harken to the “good ol days” where movies just depicted white, straight, male point of view, where women knew their place, and anybody that didn’t fit that narrative was made fun of or depicted as a stereotype. What’s funny is it isn’t the kids complaining, they are enjoying it. It’s the parents narrow point of view which is causing problems.

    • Yes, these remakes lack creativity… Yes, they are sometimes only a pale copy of the original movie .. but come on, this article is just full of nostalgia and “everything was better before”… If they are too close from the original, movies, you are not happy, if they are going away from Disney’s version, you are not happy…

    • If you think that’s what people are complaining about then you’re just being narrow minded. Try to go and listen to someone with an opposing opinion and not paint them into a “those guys” box. Even if you disagree with them, try and break down their arguments piece by piece. And, above all, don’t let one single person’s opinion represent the opinions of hundreds of thousands of others.
      Also, don’t think that anything that these movie makers are doing is to make any valid commentary on society. They just see the analytics and came to the conclusion that people who tend to agree with whatever they are putting into their movies also tend to be the people with the largest and most open wallets.

      • I am shocked how any one would be so angry because Disney wanted to be more diverse it’s Not the kids complaining and whining it’s Adults I thought as a 74 year old black grandmother that maybe just maybe we as a country had grown up becoming more acceptable of the beauty of the differences in people NOT being able to watch Ariel because her skin isn’t White is just plain old STUPID!!! Grow Up

  7. I find it crazy that although they tried to make the dwarfs “diverse” they didn’t actually use little people for those roles. There were so many who were excited to audition for this role, and for it to be taken by others who, not only weren’t little people, but are now having CGI done to make them dwarfs. If it truly was inclusive, they would have given this opportunity to actual little people.

  8. Diversity is bigotry. Period.
    If you have to try to be diverse then all you’re doing is elevating yourself into a position where you believe you’re justified in arbitrarily picking and choosing people based off of their skin color and gender.
    Also, this project is already doomed to fail. This alteration they did is not something that “anti-woke” people are celebrating because it’s literally the exact same pandering BS that they’ve been complaining about all along. What people need to understand is that race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or whatever does not matter to the people who complain about “wokeness.” What they are complaining about is how those arbitrary concepts are not only stealing the focus away from the actual plot of the story, but are also only in there just so they can pander to a more profitable portion of the audience. The movie makers don’t actually care about any of that nonsense. They only put it in because they think it will make them more money.

  9. Well said brother.

  10. Well said R3. I could not not agree with you more. I just want to know how everyone is going to react when Johnny Depp is replaced in Pirates of the Caribbean by James Cordon . . . . . LMFAO !!!!

  11. IMO: Why not find stories that have been told over the years in other countries? These stories would be in the same vein as all the prior stories but new to most of the world, an example is Encanto!