Recently, Disney's live-action remake of Aladdin revealed what Will Smith would look like as the iconic Genie. It...did not go well. Most people thought Smith's blue genie looked terrifying, ridiculous, or some combination of the two. He became the stuff that memes are made of. However, Disney apparently isn't too worried about the initial reaction. In a statement, the studio has thrown its support behind Will Smith and the rest of the film as well, claiming that once people see the movie, they'll be on board too. According to the statement...
We have one of the most anticipated films of the year and are confident that audiences will fall in love with the Genie and all of the characters when it hits the big screen this May.
The PR statement made to USA Today is pretty much what you'd expect. There certainly wouldn't be a statement saying anything other than providing full-throated support. The only other option for Disney would be to say nothing at all, and that's not really the right move when your movie's marketing campaign is in full swing.
At the same time, that doesn't mean Disney doesn't fully believe the statement. Aladdin is a well loved Disney classic with a lot of fans who have been looking forward to the live-action remake. The people involved in making the film certainly know that and you can be sure every attempt was made so that the remake lives up to the reputation of the original.
It's also true that we've only seen a few seconds of Will Smith's Genie, and that the digital effects may not have even been quite finished since the movie is still a few months away. By the time we get to the final product it's certainly possible that Will Smith's performance could overcome any shortcomings in the visuals.
The first pictures we saw of Smith in the role had the Genie in a human disguise, which is to say he looked like Will Smith and was not blue. That might be preferable considering the response that his blueness got from social media.
While many are surely excited for the new Aladdin, the deck was always going to be stacked against the remake when it came to the Genie. Robin Williams' performance in the animated classic was the sort that only he could have delivered. Trying to follow in those footsteps was always going to be impossible.
One thing that is clear from what we've seen of the Will Smith version is that Smith is going to make the character his own. Smith will focus on his own character strengths making the Genie a bit more of a smooth talker than a straight up comedian.
This is without a doubt the best decision. The best way to avoid negative comparisons to Robin Williams is to make those comparisons as difficult to make as possible.
We may get at least one more trailer before Aladdin arrives in May that could give us a better look at Will Smith's Genie. At least, we probably will if Disney thinks it will get a better reaction from fans.