Should Disney's Live-Action Adaptations Form A Shared Universe? Jon Favreau Says This

In the last few years, the Walt Disney Company has discovered a new way to make a whole lot of money. Digging into their long history of animated classics, they’ve begun to create a series of live-action remakes, so far including Alice In Wonderland, Maleficent (a take on Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella and The Jungle Book. This is a specialized franchise in its own right, but could we ever see them united to form a cohesive cinematic universe? If it were up to The Jungle Book director Jon Favreau, the answer to that question would be ‘no.’

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Favreau during a Los Angeles press day for The Jungle Book earlier this month, and in addition to discussing the film’s use of technology and his upcoming Magic Kingdom project, I also brought up the idea of all the live-action adaptations of Disney classics forming their own cinematic universe. Given that he is the director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, he knows a thing or two about building a CU, but explained why it wouldn’t be such a great idea for this new franchise:

Me personally? I don’t think so. With Marvel, they were all being created with the ‘end’ in mind. From way back when Nick Fury walked in at the end of Iron Man. And certainly with Iron Man 2 there was a lot of discussion about Captain America and the other films that were coming up. And now it’s completely integrated and interwoven. But that takes a lot of planning. To throw it together after the fact, it could potentially feel haphazard. And it might be less than the sum of its parts.

Given that Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Cinderella, and The Jungle Book are all set in either non-descript locations or times, there really isn’t anything in any of the individual movies that would present a conflict where continuity is concerned… but it’s still not hard to see Jon Favreau’s point. Public plans for a cohesive Marvel Cinematic Universe sprouted all the way back in 2006 – two years before the arrival of Iron Man. And while the fun there is to retroactively see how all the pieces fit together, mashing all of the Disney classic adaptations together might feel like an ungraceful cash grab.

You can watch Jon Favreau talk about the idea of a Disney cinematic universe in the video below:

Do you agree with Jon Favreau, or do you still think there is a window of opportunity for all the Disney remakes to fit together? Hit the comments section below with your thoughts, and check out The Jungle Book in theaters on April 15th.

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Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.