As Disney fans collectively hold their breath for the controversial release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (2024), some are still holding out hope that as The Walt Disney Company insists on continuing with retelling classic animated stories, at some point, they’ll hit the nail on the head as they churn out Disney live action remake after live action remake.
Although the past has seen a few productive and lucrative live-action remakes like Lion King (2019) and Christopher Robin (2018), fans remain unconvinced that Walt Disney’s legacy still holds the value that it did during Disney’s “golden era” of animation.
Instead of producing unique, new stories for fans, despite public outcry, Disney insists on making the rehashing of stories like Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and other works to stay in the green. Of course, this only works as long as seats remain filled at the theatre, and as Disney possesses a fiercely loyal following who will go see anything that they tell them to, they’re afforded the luxury of continuously providing less-than-stellar films based on fan-favorite original works.
Disney Live-Action Remakes Have Become Stale and Unwanted
The idea of retelling classic Disney stories in live action seemed nice at first. In all honesty, it was received well in the beginning. Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, and Aladdin were all movies we could get behind. However, the landscape quickly changed as Disney began making small tweaks to the stories of their live-action remakes.
Instead of staying true to what made these lovable characters so adored in the first place, Disney began implementing a societal-based agenda in their new products, turning a large number of moviegoers off from their content. In most recent interviews and during their third-quarter earnings call, it still seemed that Bob Iger and other Disney executives were out of touch, as they insisted they don’t have a crisis on their hands at the box office.
Original content is king; fans want more heroes and villains, more iconic characters that they can meet at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. They don’t want to keep paying for the same product, even if it is live-action. With the last five years seeing reproductions of Mulan (2020), Lady and the Tramp (2019), Dumbo, The Little Mermaid (2023), Peter Pan & Wendy (2023), and Pinocchio (2022), fans are burnt out on the live action remakes.
Live Action Remakes Don’t Work Anymore, New Stories Do
The idea of bringing classic Disney storytelling to live-action isn’t a bad one. In fact, it worked well with Lion King and Aladdin. However, it isn’t sustainable, as outside influences such as COVID-19 and inside influences like Disney’s inability not to pump propaganda into their works have forced many to watch from home. As money is tight and values are compromised, many can’t get excited about 100-year-old stories being rehashed with loud leading actresses who compare their hard work on stage to the actual sufferings of those who can’t make ends meet, looking at your Rachel Zegler.
However, there is an advantage that has been moderately successful overall for Disney in terms of utilizing live action. Instead of fully backing the medium for retelling Disney classics, adding new takes and telling new stories seems to work. Maleficient (2019), Disenchanted (2022), and Christopher Robin are all ways in which Disney used the strength of fan-favorite characters, yet told brand new stories in live action. However, they demand star power.
Although Disney has had what seems like an infinite amount of star power behind its name, casting the likes of Emma Stone, John Favreau, Emma Watson, Josh Gad, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Helena Bohnman Carter, and more in their older live actions successes; they’ve chosen to promote a younger version of star nowadays. Names like Rachel Zegler or Halle Bailey don’t carry the power that get fans excited. If you take a look at the most successful live-action remake products for Disney, they all have a great deal of star power.
Prepare for the Bombardment of New Real-Life Disney Characters
Instead of considering the panicked cries from their audience, Disney has chosen to wax over their stubbornness, planning an onslaught of new Disney live-action remakes.
Famous titles such as Frozen (2013), Tangled (2010), Bambi (1942), Snow White (1937), Moana (2016), The Sword and the Stone (1967), and Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) have all been mentioned by Disney as getting the live action treatment. As well, a few sequels to currently existing live action products like Aladdin are in the works behind the doors of The Walt Disney Company.
We can certainly get behind a few of these titles, especially if there’s a chance of seeing Dwayne Johnson play Maui. Some classic Disney animated films seem made for live action; The Sword and the Stone is a great example. However, films like Bambi are difficult to wrap our heads around, especially when no one asked for them.
“Hercules” Is on Deck
Another classic Disney film from their Disney Renaissance” in the 90s is 1997’s Hercules. We all know the story: the son of Zeus is stripped of his immortality and must “go the distance” to save those closest to him from Hades (James Woods). With a colorful cast of characters, including amazing musical numbers, Hercules quickly became a favorite animated feature for many and rounded out a decade that gave audiences some of their most nostalgic and memorable film moments.
Much like Snow White, Hercules is a legendary story that many feel was done perfectly the first go around. So, Disney has decided to rehash it and resell the film in a brand new way that none of us need or want. You can kick and scream all you want; it’s happening.
Reluctantly, despite wishing Disney would leave well enough alone, fans have been speculating for months regarding the casting decisions of Hercules. Names like Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and more have floated around the internet for a while. Some have even suggested Chris Evans (Captain America) as the lead. However, according to Inside the Magic, another Marvel counterpart may work perfectly in the role, and he isn’t an Avenger (yet).
Michael B. Jordan has been around Hollywood for a long time. However, he rose to household recognition once he took on the role of Killmonger in 2018’s Black Panther alongside the late Chadwick Boseman. Since then, Jordan has popped up all over, including the 2022 Marvel sequel Wakanda Forever and three different Creed films.
As Michael B. Jordan is a strong advocate for the African American community, not donning the traditional white skin you’d expect to see featured in movies regarding Greek gods, much like the casting of Halle Bailey and Rachel Zegler, deciding on him would most certainly be controversial for some. However, he’s young enough and fits the role perfectly in body type. As well, his propensity for playing two different versions of himself, as we’ve seen in Black Panther, is great for the role of Hercules who gets a bit of an ego boost once he garners godlike recognition.
It remains to be seen what Disney will do regarding their live action Hercules remake, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on potential casting choices. Who do you think would work as Hercules or Hades?