How Disney's Little Mermaid Remake Differs from the Original

By Aeron Mer Eclarinal Posted:
Halle Bailey as Little Mermaid, Disney logo

Disney's The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey shared that the live-action remake will be different from the original animated movie in a surprising way.

The hype for The Little Mermaid is high, especially after the release of its latest trailer in mid-March. Moreover, test screenings for the film are generally positive, with some saying that it is the "best Disney remake."

The expectations surrounding the movie's story are still the same, with its core plot mainly focusing on its new take on Ariel alongside her love for Prince Eric.

Still, fans can expect something unique when it premieres in theaters.

Halle Bailey Reflects on Little Mermaid's More Progressive Story

Halle Bailey, Ariel

In a new interview with Edition Magazine, via Variety, The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey explained that the live-action remake will highlight a more contemporary spin on the classic story. 

While expressing her excitement for the movie, Bailey confirmed that they "definitely changed [Ariel's] perspective," noting that it's not just her wanting to leave the ocean for prince Eric: 

"I’m really excited for my version of the film because we’ve definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy."

Ariel, Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid

In the 1989 animated movie, Ariel wanted to go to the surface world solely due to the fact that she fell in love with prince Eric, which has led to a number of complaints in more recent times.

Bailey continued by teasing that the movie will explore what Ariel really wants in her life:

"It’s way bigger than that. It’s about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life and what she wants."

The Disney actress then promised that the movie's theme will elevate women: 

"As women we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above. And I’m glad that Disney is updating some of those themes."

In a separate profile by The Face, Bailey reflected on The Little Mermaid's "more modern" portrayal of women, saying that it will revolve around "Ariel finding freedom for herself:"

"What’s beautiful about this version of The Little Mermaid is that it’s a lot more modern. When we saw it, when we were younger, she gave up everything for the guy. But I don’t think [that] reflects modern women today. So [now] it’s more about Ariel finding freedom for herself because of this world that she’s obsessed with. [Prince Eric] is a cherry on top. But it’s not all about him."

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall talked about how different the film's portrayal of prince Eric will be from the original movie, noting that this new version has many fresh elements: 

"The role of Eric in the animated film — I’m sure the original creators would agree with this — it’s a wooden, classic prince character with not a lot going on. There’s a whole story that’s developed in our film. He has a mother, a queen, that’s new to the film."

Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid

Marshall then shared that Eric has a "very similar trajectory" to Ariel in the movie, ultimately leading to the both of them "breaking down barriers" between their two worlds:

"He has a very similar trajectory in a way to Ariel. He doesn’t feel like it’s where he fits in, his world. These two kindred spirits find each other and really teach the world about prejudice and about breaking down barriers and walls between these two worlds." 

Why Little Mermaid's Portrayal of Ariel Will Elevate Women

Halle Bailey's comment about The Little Mermaid's new take on the classic Disney tale is a promising sign for women, especially the young ones. 

Pushing a modern tale about a woman trying to find freedom for herself while still maintaining the beauty of falling in love has the potential to inspire audiences around the world. 

It isn't surprising that the filmmakers behind The Little Mermaid would update the portrayal of Ariel in the remake, considering that some have pointed out that the original featured anti-feminist themes.

However, these issues are expected to be fixed since the movie's story is reflective of modern times. 

Given the confirmation that Ariel's desire to explore the surface does not solely rely on Eric, the film can now convey a message of self-exploration rather than dependence and subservience.

The Little Mermaid hits theaters worldwide on May 26.

- About The Author: Aeron Mer Eclarinal
Aeron is a news/features writer and Content Lead for The Direct who has been working for the site since March 2020. From writing about the inter-connectivity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to having an extended knowledge about DC TV's Arrowverse, Aeron's expertise has since expanded into the realm of reality TV, K-drama, animated, and live-action shows from Netflix,  Disney+, Prime Video, MGM+, Peacock, Paramount+, and Max. When he isn't writing and watching all things MCU, Aeron is heavily invested with the NBA (go Celtics!) and occasionally watches thrilling matches in the WWE.