Fans Can’t Believe New ‘Moana’ Look With Zendaya and Dwayne Johnson

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Dwayne Johnson as Maui (L) and Zendaya as MJ (R)

Credit: Cinematic Pro Studio, YouTube (L) / Marvel Studios (R)

Almost four months ago, Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger and Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson (Black Adam) officially announced that the story of Moana and Maui would be heading back to the big screen in a live-action reimagining. Now, a trailer has been blowing up online featuring Johnson and none other than Zendaya as the titular character.

Moana and Maui
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company’s live-action machine pushes ever forward. Back in May, the House of Mouse released the latest entry in the remake franchise, The Little Mermaid (2023), starring Halle Bailey as the eponymous sea-dweller, Ariel. Over the years, the live-action reimaginings from Disney have garnered a mixed response, and the studio’s commitment to continuing the saga has never been more clear.

At the start of April, returning CEO Bob Iger introduced wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne Johnson — from the Hawaiian island of O’ahu — to announce that Moana (2016) would be getting the live-action treatment in the near future. Johnson, who recently starred as Frank Wolff in Jungle Cruise (2021), revealed that all the fan-favorite characters from the Disney animation like Moana, Maui, Hei Hei, Pua, Gramma Tala, and Te Fiti would return in this remake.

Moana (Auliʻi Cravalho) and Maui (Dwayne Johnson) holding an oar
Credit: Disney

Not even a decade old, the announcement of a live-action Moana drew both criticism and support from the fanbase. While some applauded Disney for bringing Johnson back into the fold to head up the remake, others slammed the studio’s decision to adapt the animated classic after such a short period of time. It also ignited more discussions over Disney’s lack of original storytelling and how the company is focusing too much effort on retelling.

Upon its release, which is slated for June 2025, Moana will join other the other Disney remakes, including Alice in Wonderland (2010), Maleficent (2014), Cinderella (2015), The Jungle Book (2016), Beauty and the Beast (2017), Dumbo (2019), Aladdin (2019), The Lion King (2019), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), Mulan (2020), Pinocchio (2022), and The Little Mermaid.

Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff in 'Jungle Cruise'
Credit: Disney

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At the time of publication, the official cast has not yet been announced, including Johnson’s character of Maui, although he is expected to reprise the demigod role. Earlier this year, Moana actress Auli’i Cravalho revealed via Instagram that she would not be starring in the live-action remake but would be serving as executive producer.

So, that leaves the door open for a new actress to take on the role of Moana, and a new trailer has blown up online featuring popular actress Zendaya in the title part, alongside Johnson’s demigod Maui.

Of course, this is a fan-created “teaser trailer” and is by no means an authorized Disney product. However, this hasn’t stopped the trailer from blowing up online across social media. The above video has over 100,000 views on YouTube, while on TikTok, the trailer has garnered tens of thousands of likes and views.

Despite being fake, it also hasn’t stopped fans from either believing it’s true or wishing that Zendaya, known for her role as MJ in the Spider-Man franchise and as Rue in HBO’s Euphoria, should star as Moana. It is unlikely she will, though. Upon letting fans know she wouldn’t be playing Moana in live-action, Cravahlo stated, “It is absolutely vital the casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell. I’m truly honored to pass this baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures, and communities that help inspire her story, and I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come.”

Moana holds an oar.
Credit: Disney

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Moana will be produced by Walt Disney Pictures as well as Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia under their Seven Bucks Productions banner. Thomas Kail will direct.

Next year, Disney will release the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) remake, Snow White (2024), and the live-action prequel to The Lion King, Mufasa: The Lion King (2024). Additional upcoming films include Lilo & Stitch (TBD), Hercules (TBD), and Bambi (TBD).

Who do you think will play Moana? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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