WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Disney's Aladdin remake, as well as the comic anthology Aladdin: Four Tales of Agrabah, by Corinna Bechko, Pablo Andres, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Diego Perez Galindo, Jordi Escuin Llorach, DC Alonso, Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt, on sale from Dark Horse.
In Disney's 1992 animated classic Aladdin, the title character was endearing but not particularly nuanced. While noble, his intentions were pretty simple, as he was merely a thief who hoped to woo Princess Jasmine and prove he was the love of her life.
But with the live-action adaptation in theaters this weekend, Disney and Dark Horse Comics have partnered to flesh out a new backstory for the thief in the anthology Aladdin: Four Tales of Agrabah that redefines the character as a social justice warrior who wants to be the change that will inspire in the world.
In the story "Love & Friendship," a young boy, Hany, steals food, reminding us of Aladdin in the animtaed film. However, after he's caught, the boy goes on the run, only to be rescued by Abu and Aladdin. They become friends as Aladdin learns Hany is an orphan like him. Upon connecting, Aladdin decides to show the boy the real Agrabah.
It's all too apparent Aladdin is less impetuous than he was in the 1992 film. He's more mature and doesn't advocate theft. He instead shows Hany random acts of kindness from around the city, reiterating real wealth isn't about material riches, but about generosity. Hany begins to understand even the simplest deed -- from helping a stranger cross the street to repairing your neighbor's house -- goes a long way. However, Al also reveals the bad side of the city, such as vindictive landlords, reminding the boy light must shine through the dark, and it's up to good people to spread that philosophy.
As their journey ends, Al takes Hany to an orphanage, where we see the endgame of his crusade: He's scouring the city, looking for at-risk youths and bringing them here for shelter, meals and an education. He's devoted to ensuring that the street urchins have a future.
However, there are hints that while he scolds Abu for stealing from an old man, the shifty duo do still has to run shady shenanigans in the marketplace just to get by (Abu eventually swipes apples for the orphanage). Al is no longer a thief looking out for himself, he's more like Robin Hood this time around.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Will Smith as Genie, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as the Sultan of Agrabah, Billy Magnussen as new character Prince Anders, and Frank Welker and Alan Tudyk as the voices of Abu and Iago, respectively.