Disney’s live-action Aladdin spin-off is a missed opportunity to explore better characters

Will Smith is the Genie and Mena Massoud is Aladdin in Disney’s live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie.
Will Smith is the Genie and Mena Massoud is Aladdin in Disney’s live-action ALADDIN, directed by Guy Ritchie. /

Disney’s live-action Aladdin is getting a spin-off that will follow Prince Anders. And honestly, we just have to ask why.

When it comes to live-action remakes, Disney’s Aladdin was one of the better ones we’ve seen in recent years. In fact, the movie must have been somewhat successful because it’s getting a spin-off feature on Disney Plus. Unfortunately, the spin-off is already looking like it will be less popular than its predecessor — if only because it follows Prince Anders, a character that we’re pretty sure no one actually cares about.

And fans have taken to the internet and vocalized why Prince Anders getting a spin-off is so problematic. It’s not just that we’re not interested in his story; he’s also one of the only white characters in a film full of characters of color — characters who are far more interesting and would give us more stories with people of color at the forefront. (To add salt to the wound, the announcement of this spin-off comes right after Aladdin actor Mena Massoud revealed he hasn’t had an audition since the movie was released.)

There are so many different angles Disney could have taken with an Aladdin spin-off. To start, the movie ends with Jasmine claiming the role of Sultan for herself. Disney could easily have gone with a direct sequel — or even one set years in the future — that didn’t follow in the footsteps in the animated films. Instead, we could have watched as Jasmine learned to become a leader and a ruler her people admired.

Tackling Jasmine stepping into the role of Sultan wouldn’t just be interesting from a story standpoint, but it would also give young girls a female leader to look up to — and we’re always here for more female-led content, especially if it shows that women can be powerful rulers.

But Jasmine’s not the only character that would be interesting to follow in her own standalone film. Genie, Jafar, and the Sultan surely all have worthy backstories — ones that could have been explored in far more depth if Disney chose to go the prequel route. Jafar is arguably one of Disney’s most fascinating villains, and we’re sure that Genie has had his share of adventures prior to the events of Aladdin. Both possess magic, too, and magic makes any story better.

As for the Sultan, we’re sure he’s seen plenty in his time ruling Agrabah. And sure, a political film by itself may not appeal to the audience these films are intended for — but as we mentioned, this is a world with magic in it, and Disney could have found a way to make the Sultan’s backstory a bit

With so many options, it’s hard to say why Disney thought its viewers would want to follow the dim Prince Anders at all. His story is unlikely to connect back to Aladdin’s in any significant way, and truthfully, it’s also unlikely to offer much in the way of a compelling narrative. We’re sorry to say that Disney missed an opportunity with this decision.

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What do you think of Disney’s decision to make an Aladdin spin-off focused on Prince Anders? Sound off the comments below.