Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid is making a big change to the iconic villain of the story, Ursula. Tucked into Deadline's report that Jessica Alexander has joined the cast of the upcoming adaptation in an undisclosed role was a description of Melissa McCarthy's Ursula as being Ariel's (Halle Bailey) aunt. Fans of the animated The Little Mermaid will recall that in that film, Ursula was a sea witch determined to sabotage Ariel in order to replace her father King Triton as ruler over the seas.
What's interesting about this shift in Ursula's relationship to Ariel is that it's something that was considered for the animated classic. Going all the way back to Hans Christian Andersen's classic fairy tale, the then-unnamed sea witch character isn't especially prominent in the story, something the animated adaptation shifted that a bit, giving her an expanded role and her iconic name. Part of that was the idea that there was a fractured familiar relationship between King Triton and Ursula, though it was a concept that was ultimately abandoned. However, there are still hints in the animated film that there is a history between Ursula and Triton, with Ursual even referring to having lived in the palace at some time in the past.
If the live-action The Little Mermaid does restore the family relationship between Ariel and Ursula, it will be interesting to see how that changes the villain/protagonist dynamic.
Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid will star Halle Bailey as Ariel, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, and Awkwafina as Scuttle. Disney has not yet announced a release date for the film.
Are you looking forward to Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid? Do you think Ariel and Ursual should be related? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.