How Will ‘The Little Mermaid’ Expand on the Love Story Between Ariel and Eric?

in Disney, Entertainment

halle bailey and jonah hauer-king as ariel and eric in the little mermaid

Credit: Disney

The live-action version of The Little Mermaid is about to give us more of the love story between Ariel and Eric than we’ve ever seen before.

There is a lot to be expected of a live-action adaptation of an animated Disney film. It should capture the magic of the hand-drawn original, but using real people; it should follow the original plot, but add more elements to flesh it out; it should keep the same message, but also say something new.

As far as fleshing out the story goes, Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall seems to have that covered – especially when it comes to what’s going on between Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King’s Ariel and Eric.

Ariel and Eric "Kiss the Girl" scene, leaning in on boat, from The Little Mermaid 2023 remake
Credit: Disney

Related: Real-Life Actors for Ariel and Eric Spark Dating Rumors

Marshall’s first issue was that the original Eric was “kind of a wooden, two-dimensional character.” He’s sweet, he seems to prefer the open sea being a Prince, he plays the pennywhistle, and he loves his dog.

That’s more of a Tinder profile than a person – so Rob Marshall’s first step on the path to developing a convincing live-action love story between Ariel and Eric, was simply to figure out who Eric actually was.

“I really wanted to make it clear that they were kindred spirits, dealing with the same issues. They both felt that they didn’t fit in. There was a sense of displacement, but also that they wanted something more, and they weren’t afraid. I began to see it as a more of a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale; they’re from different worlds, warring factions, and they find each other and build a bridge between these two worlds.

Ariel (R) and Eric (L) in Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' (2023)
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Related: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Changes Key Plot Point From the Original

There’s a lot to this that does draw on the original character. It’s easy enough to extrapolate from the animated film that Eric is not a fan of the formality and obligation that comes with being a prince – he may have royal blood, but he has the spirit of a sailor.

The irony here is that this actually juxtaposes the goals of Ariel and Eric – Ariel wishes she could join the humans on land, but is bound to the sea; meanwhile, Eric longs to sail on the open sea, but is trapped on land by his royal duties.

There was one big change, however, and that was giving Eric someone to rail against in his fight to live his own life. So Marshall decided the only logical thing to do was to give the originally parentless Prince Eric a mother – the Queen.

prince eric and his mother the queen in live action little mermaid
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live-Action Could Shine Light on King Triton’s and Ursula’s Family Dynamic

She doesn’t understand him and what he wants, and how that mirrors what Triton is going through with Ariel.

Now, the groundwork has been laid for Ariel and Eric to have the beautiful, heart-melting, whirlwind romance they always deserved. It will be fascinating to see how these few changes come into play in the context of the new film, and how Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King translate them into the characters they’re playing.

We’ll get to see how it all plays out when The Little Mermaid finally joins us on land next week, May 26.

What do you hope to see out of the new love story between Ariel and Eric? Let us know in the comments,

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