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You'd think that as a film director, you have the final say regarding what makes it into your movie. You'd especially think that is the case when that director is John Musker, one of greatest Disney directors of all-time, responsible for hits like The Little Mermaid, and Aladdin. Apparently, that's not the case at all, as Musker has an absolutely perfect idea for a joke in Moana, involving the demigod Maui and his full body tattoos, that somehow still isn't in the movie.
We learned at the Moana panel at San Diego Comic-Con that the tattoos covering the body of the demigod voiced by Dwayne Johnson, are not simply Polynesian images. As the story goes, they're actually all visual representations of Maui's various exploits throughout his life. Each tattoo tells the story of a different event, and this is apparently done by Maui because he's got a bit of an ego, and likes to show off. The more we learn about the character of Maui, the more it makes sense why they got The Rock to voice this part. Since Maui's entire life story is depicted, and the tattoos cover his entire body, director John Musker made a great joke to describe Maui's potential use of the tattooed images.
Because the tattoos on his back, as well as his whole body, tell a story; Maui's life story, to be specific. It sounds like John Musker has told this joke a few times, as he then told the audience, he really wants to see that joke in the final cut of Moana. However, as of now, it's not in there anywhere. It may come across as a little punny, but the joke got a solid laugh from the assembled crowd, and as we assume it was full of serious Disney animation fans, it would seem the target audience liked the joke.
There's more going on with Maui's tattoos than simply telling a story in pictures. One of Maui's tattoos depicts a tiny version of himself performing one of his amazing accomplishments. This "Mini Maui," as he was referred to on the panel, is a sentient drawing who silently communicates with the larger Maui. He will apparently act as the characters conscience in Moana, and we saw a brief sequence at the panel in which Maui appeared to be leaving Moana behind, causing Mini Maui to show that he is not happy about it.
With a November release date, we assume that getting new dialogue into Moana isn't actually possible, which is fine since we don't think John Musker is really going to push for the line. Still, we think it's funny, and as it was remarked on the panel, Dwayne Johnson has such amazing comic timing, we know he wouldn't have any trouble pulling it off. Moana opens on November 23rd, but if Disney is smart, they'll recycle this gag as a future animated short to open one of its later films with. Just a thought.