‘The Little Mermaid’ director opens up about missing characters in the live-action remake


Screengrab via Disney

This article contains spoilers for The Little Mermaid.

Disney’s live-action retelling of The Little Mermaid has made its highly anticipated splash into theaters, and fans are getting a new look at a beloved fairytale that we just can’t get enough of. 

Everyone knows the magic in Ariel’s undersea realm and the misguided and torturous realm that belongs to Ursula and the sea witch’s path to vengeance. Ariel is light and innocence, beauty and love, and Ursula is the other side of that coin; she’s powerful and stunning in her own right — but she’s also holding onto a lot of darkness, some of which are her poor unfortunate souls. 

So the Disney lovers who feel deeply attached to the villain realm likely took quick note of the differences in Ursula’s garden, namely — the missing polyp people. 

Comicbook.com spoke with Rob Marshall about some changes taking place between the live-action and the animated version of The Little Mermaid and how several side (but notable) characters were missing in the retelling. 

“Yeah, it was interesting. It was really, I know this sounds crazy, but it was about where they were. You know, if I wanted to go back to the Hans Christian Andersen [fairy tale], where they’re really these creatures who are outside of her lair … it just felt like one thing too much for them to be actual people … it was the idea that these plants would then turn into people felt almost like an animation idea, a concept … When you watch Triton in the original turn into one of them, it’s comical.” 

He continued by saying that some things just don’t translate in the realm between animation and reality; the polyp people were, unfortunately, one of those things. 

“In a live-action, there’s that line, you know, there are things that work in animation. There are just things that just don’t work in live-action … I felt like this feels like one step too far, that it will cross that line into something that seems silly.” 

With the emotional tie that many Disney fans feel towards The Little Mermaid, it makes sense that Marshall would want the film to feel as genuine as possible, hitting a specific standard and staying there. Of course, fans can always make up in their minds where the polyp people went, and what happens when Ursula’s charity cases end up as structures in her garden instead. In fact, we can still imagine them looking the same way, and that’s better than seeing an altered version that just wouldn’t make sense. 

You can swim into theaters this weekend to get a look for yourself, because The Little Mermaid is in theaters now!

About the author


Ashley Marie

Ashley Marie is a staff writer, beat leader, Disney fanatic, and Yellowstone expert. When she’s not filling her friends in on all the entertainment news they can handle, she’s drinking her go-to Starbucks order — a caramel macchiato, thank you — and wishing she was at Disney World or spending time at the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. With a focus on positivity and kindness in journalism, Ashley has been writing for a decade and hopes to keep bringing you articles for decades to come.

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