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Top 10 Best Changes In Live-Action Disney Remakes

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada
Disney made some excellent updates to these animated classics. For this list, we're looking at the best alterations the House of Mouse made while turning their animated films into live-action movies. Since some of these updates might change the plots that you’re used to, a spoiler warning is in effect. Our list includes Lady Tremaine's Motivations, Mowgli Remains in the Jungle, Maleficent's Tragic Backstory, More Diverse Casts, Beast is Cursed As An Adult, and more! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Best Changes In Live-Action Disney Remakes.

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Top 10 Best Changes In Live-Action Disney Remakes

Top 10 Best Changes In Live-Action Disney Remakes

Disney made some excellent updates to these animated classics. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Changes in Live-Action Disney Remakes.

For this list, we're looking at the best alterations the House of Mouse made while turning their animated films into live-action movies. Since some of these updates might change the plots that you’re used to, a spoiler warning is in effect.

#10: More Diverse Casts

Disney hasn’t always had the best track record with diversity. Fortunately, the company has worked to represent people of different races and cultural backgrounds in recent years. In their live-action films, they’ve used colorblind casting for numerous characters. 2016’s “Jungle Book” had one of their most diverse main ensembles to date. Neel Sethi led the film as Mowgli, and there were vocal performances from actors of color like Lupita Nyong'o and Giancarlo Esposito. Casting more minority actors means more chances for all kinds of audiences to see themselves represented on the big screen. Here’s hoping Disney will bring diversity to even more of its characters moving forward.

#9: Shere Khan's Connection to Mowgli
“The Jungle Book” (2016)

If you come across this tiger, you’d better have some fire ready. Shere Khan appears as the fearsome main antagonist in the 1967 and 2016 versions of “Jungle Book”. In both movies, his intense hatred for humans causes him to target the young Mowgli. But the 2016 remake gives him another reason to despise his prey. In a flashback, we see that Mowgli’s father scarred Shere Khan with fire while fighting the animal. Despite killing Mowgli’s father, the tiger is still hungry for revenge. The decision to tie Shere Khan’s motivations to Mowgli’s past adds a significant amount of weight to their final struggle.

#8: Maleficent Breaks Her Own Curse
“Maleficent” (2014)

In the original “Sleeping Beauty”, the wicked fairy Maleficent inflicts a sleeping curse on the infant Princess Aurora before disappearing from her life. The live-action film took the opposite approach by having Maleficent protect the princess while waiting for the curse to take effect. This plot change results in the pair forming something like a mother-daughter relationship. At one point, Maleficent even tries to reverse the curse. Although the fairy’s first attempt fails, her love proves powerful enough to awaken Aurora. Having Maleficent break the curse after developing this strong relationship brought a great layer of drama to the familiar tale.

#7: Lady Tremaine's Motivations
“Cinderella” (2015)

The animated version of Lady Tremaine is infamous for being cruel, bitter and spiteful. But the 2015 retelling suggested Cinderella’s stepmother was more than that. When Lady Tremaine hears her second husband has died, she’s genuinely hurt and worried about what will happen to her daughters. The combination of Lady Tremaine’s pain and pressures lead her to treat Cinderella cruelly and act ruthlessly to ensure her children are taken care of. While that doesn’t excuse her misdeeds, it creates an interesting character dynamic. Since Cinderella had suffered loss just like Lady Tremaine, the villainess is a constant example of what the optimistic protagonist could have become.

#6: The Enchantment Erases Memories
“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

When a prince and his servants are cursed to turn into a beast and household objects respectively, they hide away in a castle. But despite living close to a village, the local townspeople don’t seem to notice that a royal and his subjects have disappeared. This plot hole from 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” was fixed in 2017. In the remake, the curse erases all memories of the prince and his servants. The enchantment also slowly turns the servants more inanimate over time, making their predicament a matter of life or death. These alterations to the enchantment strengthen the plot and raise the stakes.

#5: Cinderella Meets the Prince Earlier
“Cinderella” (2015)

Marrying someone you just met might not lead to happily ever after. Disney seemingly recognized this in 2015’s “Cinderella”. Instead of having the Prince meet Cinderella at a ball, their first encounter is a brief meeting in a forest. While the prince is out hunting, Cinderella is running from her cruel family. Despite coming from vastly different circumstances, the two easily exchange witty banter and adorable smiles. The prince is so into Cinderella that he invites the entire kingdom to his ball so that he might see her again. Their new forest encounter is ultimately a short yet sweet scene that demonstrates why they’re meant to be.

#4: Mowgli Remains in the Jungle
“The Jungle Book” (2016)

After spending most of his life being raised by a loving animal family, Mowgli is encouraged to go to a human village to escape the vicious Shere Khan. In the recent live-action adaptation, he returns to his jungle community once the threat is over. This is in sharp contrast to the 1967 version, where Mowgli tries living with humans… after meeting a girl. Both endings are portrayed as happy resolutions for Mowgli. However, the new ending makes more sense given Mowgli’s love for his adopted family. It also implies that he doesn’t need to move from his home to live a full and happy life.

#3: Maleficent's Tragic Backstory
“Maleficent” (2014)

At the start of “Maleficent”, the titular character is a peaceful fairy. Her fate changes when she meets and falls in love with a human named Stefan. Although Stefan initially cares for Maleficent, he later drugs her and cuts off her wings to become king. She is so hurt by his heinous actions that she curses his daughter with an enchantment that only true love can break. Maleficent’s updated backstory gives us deeper insight to her dark deeds, and reasons to root for her redemption. Even fans of Maleficent’s purely evil incarnation can’t deny that her new character arc makes for a compelling story.

#2: Beast is Cursed As An Adult
“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

Fans of 1991’s “Beauty and the Beast” came up with a disturbing theory. In the prologue, the prince disrespects an enchantress, is turned into a beast and given until his 21st year to reverse the spell. The rest of the movie takes place near the curse’s conclusion. Since Lumière says 10 years had passed, the prince must’ve been around 11 when he first became the Beast. While this was never directly confirmed, Disney covered their bases in the 2017 film. This time around, the Prince is clearly cursed as an adult. His punishment is easier to watch knowing it started after he hit puberty.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are some honorable mentions.

More of Mowgli's Wolf Family
“The Jungle Book” (2016)

Showing Where the 101 Dalmatians Live
“101 Dalmatians” (1996)

Learning About Belle's Mother
“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

#1: Independent and Active Female Leads

While Disney has given us many iconic female leads, some of them lacked complex character traits and often seemed dependent on their love interests. This sometimes made them feel like passive participants in their own stories. But the modern remakes actively fight this trend. Cinderella stands up for herself, Belle is a headstrong inventor who makes things with her father, and Aurora thaws Maleficent’s heart before helping her defeat the king. Although they often find love, each female lead can take care of themselves. They’re still the iconic characters we grew up with, but with added layers that make them even better role models.

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