Whether they're eager to see it or dreading its release, Disney fans have been waiting to see more of the upcoming live-action adaptation of Aladdin. Back in October, fans were treated to a short teaser trailer that gave us a glimpse of Agrabah, the mystical atmosphere of the film and the scene leading up to the discovery of the magic lamp holding the one and only Genie, cutting away before we could actually get a look at him.
Earlier today Entertainment Weekly debuted a first look at Genie, along with the film's other main characters, Aladdin and Jasmine.
As you might expect, some of the fans who grew up with the animated film from 1992 expressed their outrage at the fact that Genie isn't blue like the beloved character from their childhood. However, the fact of the matter is that this... just isn't true.
It's somewhat understandable that fans would react this way (though a simple reading of the articles, or Will Smith's social media, would have told them they were wrong). There's no doubt that a large portion of the potential audience will have grown up during the era sometimes referred to as the Disney renaissance. Aladdin was one such film that made a lasting impression through its memorable soundtrack and colorful, fun characters. Genie, in particular, was the source of most of the film's most memorable moments. A quick look on the Internet will show that after the passing of Robin Williams, who lent his voice and comedic talents to the magical character, many fans began to treat Genie as a little more than just a treasured memory. He became the perfect example of Williams' talent as a comedian and actor, and that's not something a live-action adaptation should take lightly.
That being said, it's not something fans need to worry about. It's clear that the live-action adaptation is being made with the utmost respect for the source material. Fans just need to be patient...or rather, pay attention to the news about the film. That means reading everything that's been written instead of just the headlines. So let's take a look at what was actually in the EW article.
The cover and an additional photo released shows Aladdin, Jasmine and Genie. Genie is dressed in fine blue garments adorned with gold jewelry -- but he also appears to be human. At first glance, it does look like Genie is just Will Smith in somewhat regal-looking attire. The cuffs are there and he's got the hair, the only difference as that he isn't blue.
However, after a lengthy discussion of the character with focus on what Robin Williams gave audiences, the accompanying interview discusses how the film's director, Guy Ritchie, and Smith both want to respect the character while bringing something new to the screen. The EW article then makes it a point to clarify, "The final version of Will Smith’s Genie in his blue floating lamp form isn’t quite finished." The image simply shows Genie as he appears in his human form. Even then, Will Smith pointed out in a Facebook post that he will be blue in the completed film and that he will be CGI for most of the movie.
As so often is the case, the outrage over this movie revelation is unfounded. The EW article tells us that the upcoming Aladdin will be different in a lot of different ways. Genie isn't going to be the same character some of us grew up with. According to Guy Ritchie, this Genie will have a slightly different personality, but he'll serve the same narrative purposes. Physically however, the character will remain faithful to the animated film and that means -- despite what some people have assumed -- Genie will be blue.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, Will Smith as Genie, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as The Sultan, Nasim Pedrad as Dalia, Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders, and Numan Acar as Hakim. In theaters May 24, 2019.