The Little MermaidJust a picture a live action version of The Little Mermaid: the creation of the underwater kingdom, the terrors of Ursula’s cave, the journey of a girl who's not used to the land.
What’s more, like Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid is ripe for a quasi-feminist reinterpretation. There is a whole interplay of patriarchy and control, masculine vs. feminine power, with Ariel stuck in the middle looking for a way out of her prescribed role. For a female coming-of-age tale, The Little Mermaid has a lot to offer, and some of its darker elements have never been explored. Live action could be the perfect opportunity to remedy that.
AladdinThere have already been several different adaptations of the Aladdin story, but none of them follow the lines that the Disney film took.
For one, the Genie could be a much darker character, similar to the genie in the classic Thief of Bagdad, with more of the trickster in him. Furthermore, while we could see just a straight live-action adaptation, it would be even more interesting to play a gender-swap and have street urchin Jasmine proving her worth to Prince Aladdin, with the help of a genie in a bottle – or something to that effect.
With Disney’s current fervor for turning their princess narratives into feminist fantasies, Aladdin certainly has a lot to offer.
The Black CauldronA little known Disney film from 1985, The Black Cauldron deserves more attention that it has been given.
This one has it all: an ancient legend, an evil ruler, dashing heroes, fairy characters, dark and light magic, undead warriors, and a magical pig. The fantasy world is rich with possibilities, and very different from anything else that Disney had produced. What’s more, because the film is so little known, a new live action adaptation would not face the dangers of overdoing it like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.
You don’t have to give this one a reinterpretation or a new angle on an old story: just go back to the film and the original novels by Lloyd Alexander, and you’ve got a brand new epic on your hands.
MulanAlthough a comparatively more recent film than Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, Mulan has all the makings of a live action adventure.
It revolves around a young Chinese woman who steals her father’s armor and goes off to join the Chinese army battling the invading Huns – in the process she partners with a dragon, gets into shenanigans with male soldiers, and saves China.
You could argue that Mulan is practically live action already, but wouldn’t it be cool to see a real kickass heroine on our screens?
PinocchioThough Pinocchio has received several different treatments over the years, Disney’s version is still arguably the best known, mostly for Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio’s tiny conscience. But it’s also a moral fable that could do with some complications.
Like The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio is as much an argument for not protecting children too much as it is for protecting them too little. Pinocchio has to navigate the dangers of becoming a “real boy,” while his creator Geppetto must learn to be a good father. Children transform into donkeys, fairies offer wishes, and there’s the bit where our heroes wind up in a whale’s stomach. That would be awesome in live action, wouldn't it?
PocahontasAs one of the few Disney princesses with an historical basis, Pocahontas deserves more serious treatment than she has received. While we cannot expect Disney to tell the real story – she marries an Englishman and dies of pneumonia, never seeing her home again – we could definitely have a more intimate development of the narrative.
Terrence Malick did a version of the Pocahontas story with The New World, but Disney would naturally put its own spin on the same animated tale. With the current rise in eco-concerns, now is as good a time for this as any.
The Princess and the FrogAnother recent Disney film, The Princess and the Frog is already considered a modern classic. As the studio's first African-American heroine, Tiana would be a golden opportunity for any young actress to show her stuff. It’s a lovely romance story, too, and is a lot more complicated than the typical Disney tales.