Another day, another remake. You can’t throw a (metaphorical) stone on the internet these days without hitting a news article about another classic from your childhood that Disney has decided needs retelling. Is nothing sacred? Even Honey I Shrunk the Kids is getting a reboot, 31 years later. When was the last time a real live human being even remembered that franchise existed? Disney’s new business model seems to be “Give the people what they don’t want, don’t need, and have never ever asked for, because NOSTALGIA.” No thanks. As my favorite Emo Space Prince once said, it’s time to let old things die. Here are 4 stories Disney should be telling instead.
Original or Adapted Fantasy
Fantasy is cool now, guys. Crossover hit Game of Thrones proved that fantasy television (plus boobies) could sell, and other streaming services have been quick to line up their own offerings. Netflix has The Witcher , the upcoming Shadow and Bone series, and the rights to The Chronicles of Narnia. Amazon has The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time, and Carnival Row, a rare original fantasy gem that while wasn’t perfect, showed potential. Disney needs to get on it (but maybe with less boobies). Since original content doesn’t seem to be high priority, there are literally dozens of other successful and acclaimed YA and High Fantasy book series that could be adapted. These include but are not limited to:
- The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. They’re adapted fairy tales, which is literally Disney’s wheelhouse.
- The Folk of the Air by Holly Black. Super popular, fem-gaze series with faeries and monsters and LGBT rep, plus hot, hot enemies to lovers, aka The Superior Trope.
- The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta. One of Beth’s all time favorites.
- Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik. It’s the Napoleonic Wars, but with dragons. “History but add dragons” is everything I have ever wanted.
While researching I did learn that Disney has picked up Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, an African-inspired YA Action Fantasy, but that it is still in the very early stages. Make it happen, Disney! And…write your own. You were good at that once.
Happily. Ever. After.
I don’t care what genre, or series, or time period. Just give me a well written, exciting story of two people falling in love and staying together forever. And if they could not die right after their first kiss, that would help immensely. I don’t care if it’s “not realistic”; reality blows and nothing helps a girl escape like an angst-driven story with a thoroughly romantic conclusion.
Stories with Overt Queer Representation
Disney might think it earned woke points because two women kissed in the background of a Star Wars, or because two men exchanged a look and danced in Beauty and The Beast. That ain’t it. Here’s some advice: if it takes an international censor less than ten seconds to edit out your LGBT rep, than it doesn’t actually count.
Case in point; Pixar (owned by Disney) is touting the LGBT character Spectre from its new release Onward. It looks like progress, but is it just queerbaiting? While her role is described as “vital to the emotional arc of the story”, she is onscreen for less than a minute. Censors wouldn’t even break a sweat.
I think it’s funny how homophobic people are gonna be like “this is shoved into our throats” and the lgbt community is like “yay another backround character”
— Sneakatnite is in the #PositivityGang (@sneakatnite) February 21, 2020
Disney’s best example of inclusion is the Disney Channel show Andi Mack, a coming of age tween comedy about an Asian-American family, with a supporting character who comes out in middle school. The series, which ran for three seasons, was canceled last summer. What will take its place?
The gays aren’t going away, Disney, no matter how hard you slyly avoid portraying their existence. In a society where LGBTQ youth are more than three times as likely to attempt suicide, it is more important than ever that Disney, with its massive platform, start setting an example of inclusion and positive representation. Netflix has been doing it for years.
Female and POC-centered Star Wars TV Shows
In a recent earnings call, now former Disney CEO Bob Iger claimed that the future of Star Wars was in television. Based on the success of The Mandalorian, and conversely, the critically panned disappointment that was The Rise of Skywalker (why yes, I am still salty about it), taking a break from cinematic releases seems like a good idea.
Disney+ already has several SW shows lined up; the much-hyped Kenobi, and show about Rogue One‘s Cassian Andor, both of which have been delayed due to script re-hauls. Season 2 of The Mandalorian is still on track to premiere in October (thanks for being reliable, Jon Favreau!). But notice a trend?
Yeah. All of these shows are about men. And we already know how two of them die. The Mandalorian does at least succeed in being somewhat fresh; while the universe is familiar we have no idea where the story might be going. We don’t go into it knowing of some inescapable tragedy that would eventually befall the characters. But in a galaxy with 25,000 years of history across innumerable star systems, why do they keep telling stories from the same few decades? The universe is literally the limit and the Skywalker era is tired.
(Lucasfilm did just reveal details about new Star Wars campaign Project Luminous, set 200 years before the Prequel Trilogy, but it is currently confined to print media. Only time will tell if it embraces diversity.)
It’s not enough to come up with new stories about different white men and their laser swords. My generation, and future generations, aren’t content to worship at the altar of Luke Skywalker (or female versions of him). We need new characters to root for, new causes to champion in a galaxy far, far away. As a global phenomenon, Star Wars can no longer be marketed solely to the “I-saw-the-OT-in-the-theaters” White American Male.
The fandom is full of passionate, intelligent, devoted women and people of color, so it’s ridiculous that in 2020 their representation onscreen is still mostly relegated to token status. Make shows centered around women of all colors. Hire women to write them. Hire women to direct them. ITS. NOT. HARD. Women love Star Wars. Trust them with it.
What stories do you want to see Disney telling?
Food. Books. Naps. Deeply obsessed with Tolkien, Baby Yoda memes, and traveling as often and as far as possible. Determined to live in Scotland. Amateur historian. Professional stay at home mom. Rabid consumer of scotch, peanut M&Ms, and Reylo fanfic. Creator of possibly the best PB&J ever. A little too in love with Kylo Ren.