With several months still to go until the release of the live-action adaptation of Aladdin, and only one very tight-lipped teaser trailer to show for it, Disney has finally unveiled several new photos of the movie's stars in character as the beloved titular street rat and his trusty squad. The pictures, exclusive to Entertainment Weekly, show Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud, chatting with the Genie (Will Smith) and showing an incognito Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) around a market. Other shots depict Jasmine chatting with her friend and handmaiden Dalia, a new character played by former SNL star Nasim Pedrad, and give a glimpse of Marwan Kenzari's evil Jafar and what appears to be an all-CGI version of Aladdin's monkey sidekick Abu.
The photos sparked several mini-controversies on Twitter upon their release on Wednesday. For one, diehard Aladdin fans wondered, why is Massoud wearing a shirt underneath his iconic vest, rather than going shirtless like his animated counterpart circa 1992? For another, why does Smith's Genie have the exact goatee and high pony of his own 2D predecessor (voiced by Robin Williams), but not his cerulean skin tone or wispy tail instead of human legs?
Fortunately, though we still have no official statement from director Guy Ritchie on the first of these very pressing issues, he and Smith both offered their assurances that the Genie will look more like the exuberant mystical being fans know and love when the CGI experts are done with him. "Check Me Rockin' the Top Knot Ponytail Vibes," Smith captioned an Instagram post showing the Aladdin-themed EW cover, and added, "and yes, I'm gonna be BLUE!" In the accompanying article, Ritchie also confirmed that the photos didn't show the Genie's final form, and described Smith's character as being built like "a muscular 1970s dad." Smith added, "I think it'll stand out as unique even in the Disney world...There hasn't been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history."
Scott also spoke to EW about stepping into Jasmine's turquoise harem pants. "Jasmine's main objective at the beginning is to really protect her people and to do right by them. She definitely isn't a finished article at the beginning of the movie, but she has this beautiful arc and progression, and she goes from asking for what she wants to just taking it, and displaying that she is a leader," she said, and noted that she'd long been a fan of the Disney princess: "Having a Disney princess that looked something like me, I think, was really powerful."
And though Jasmine's loyal pet tiger Rajah will still be in the film, this time around, she'll have a companion, Dalia, who can actually respond to her. "Jasmine is so resilient and independent in this version, she's focused on things other than which boy she's going to end up with," Pedrad said. "She really wants to be a leader, and Dalia really supports that, but at the same time wants to make sure she doesn't get in trouble."
Overall, according to Ritchie, the 2019 version of Princess Jasmine is "a more rounded character," and less of "a stereotype of the time." In Disney terms, that means she has a human friend, goals beyond getting married, and a brand-new solo song, courtesy of composer Alan Menken and La La Land lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. All Aladdin gets, meanwhile, is an undershirt that the Twitterverse would very much like to return.
Aladdin hits theaters May 24, 2019. Until then, feel free to dissect whatever other tidbits you can find in the aforementioned, annoyingly cagey trailer:
Related: Naomi Scott, Star of the New Aladdin Remake, Is An Action Hero and Disney Princess With a Look All Her Own