Will Smith Found The Aladdin Genie Backlash ‘Very Funny’

Will Smith as Genie in Aladdin

Although we got our first look at Will Smith’s Genie in the upcoming Aladdin remake last December, the character was rocking a normal human guise. It wasn’t until the special sneak that aired in February that the character was shown in all his blue glory. Well, maybe ‘glory’ isn’t the right word, as this look at the live action blue Genie was met with a lot of derision online, which included various memes and Photoshop manipulations, due to the quality of the CGI,

However, rather than be bothered or hurt by this backlash against Aladdin’s Genie, Will Smith actually found these reactions amusing. In his words:

It was very funny. There was a Sonic The Hedgehog / Genie frog. Everything is under such critical scrutiny. I came up in an era where there was no internet. It’s a new thing that I’m trying to get a handle on.

Will Smith does have a point. The internet as we know it wasn’t around when he was growing up, and even during the period when he was starring in hits like Bad Boys, Independence Day and Men in Black, the World Wide Web didn’t hold anywhere near the cultural influence it does now. Sure you might have come across some movie criticism, but that’s a far cry from someone using an Arrested Development screenshot to poke fun at the live action iteration of a Disney character only minutes after a new preview dropped.

Thing seem to have calmed down on the Genie front since then, particularly after a new Aladdin trailer dropped last month which included improved shots of Will Smith’s character. Director Guy Ritchie, who also spoke with Empire, noticed the turnaround on the reception towards Genie, saying:

It even came with apologies from the cynics who were so adamant initially. I’ve never seen apologies in that world. I thought, ‘Oh well, great, we’re back to where I’d hoped we’d be.'

Altogether, we’ve only glimpsed seconds of Genie from the Aladdin marketing, so we’ll have to wait until the movie actually comes out to see whether the VFX crew stuck the proverbial landing with his blue appearance or if there are still some noticeable issues. Either way, at least Will Smith was able to get a little joy out of the mockery his version of Genie went through rather than take it personally.

Rather than radically overhauling the story of its 1992 animated predecessor, Aladdin seems to be following in the footsteps of Beauty and the Beast and going the straightforward remake route, though obviously still with some differences. Along with Will Smith, the main cast includes Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as The Sultan, Nasim Pedrad as Dalia, Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders, Numan Acar as Hakim and Robby Haynes as Razoul, as well as Alan Tudyk voicing Iago and Frank Welker reprising Abu the monkey and the Cave of Wonders.

Aladdin will work its magic in theaters on May 24. If you’re curious about what other movies are coming out later this year, head to our 2019 release schedule for that information.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.