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The 10 Biggest Differences Between the New 'Little Mermaid' and the Original Disney Movie

ELLE logo ELLE 3/13/2017 Estelle Tang

You KNOW we are hyped for the live-action The Little Mermaid. But will we love it as much as the 1989 Disney film? The forthcoming Beauty and the Beastwas so intriguingly different from its 1991 animated counterpart that we can't help but feel curious about what's to come for our favorite waterbound friend.

10 of the Biggest Differences Between the New Little Mermaid Trailer and the Original Disney Movie © Disney + YouTube 10 of the Biggest Differences Between the New Little Mermaid Trailer and the Original Disney Movie

Unlike Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid adaptation isn't a Disney production (though one is in the works, and Universal Studios is also getting its own take together)-so the differences are likely to be stark. In fact, we may only have the trailer for The Little Mermaid, which is coming out in the summer, but it looks utterly different to the Ariel-and-Sebastian animated jaunt we know and love.

We took a super close look at the trailer to find out just what might have changed. Here are the 10 biggest differences between the 2017 version of The Little Mermaid, as seen in the trailer, and its Disney predecessor.

1. Shirley MacLaine is in it!

© YouTube

That can never be a bad thing. Just like the classic children's movie The Princess Bride, in which a man (Peter Falk, a.k.a Columbo) reads to his sick grandson, The Little Mermaid is framed as a bedtime story. Here, it's Shirley MacLaine who appears to be telling her two young charges a before-bed tale.

2. The action starts on land, not at sea.

© YouTube

In Disney's The Little Mermaid, we are plunged straight into the deeps of Ariel's underwater world. But the 2017 film's story seems to start in a much drier context-literally and figuratively. Take a look at this newspaper advertisement for a mysterious product called "Miracle Mermaid Elixir"-which surely can't bode well for our merfriend.

3. There's no Eric.

© YouTube

In 1989, girls everywhere swooned over Disney's Prince Eric-at least, until we grew up and realized he fell in love with a girl who couldn't talk. Anyhoo, there won't be any princes in this summer's mermaid tale. Instead, we'll meet Cam (William Moseley), a journalist who seems pretty skeptical about the whole mermaid thing, tbh.

4. There's no Ursula, either.

© YouTube

Sad face-the tentacular, purple witch is nowhere to be seen. (Also, no "Poor Unfortunate Souls"!) Instead, the villain seems to be this dastardly gent, a top-hat-wearing, moustache-having ringleader. "I was tricked," says the mermaid-presumably about this man-"he took a part of me." Could it be her voice? We'll find out soon enough...

5. One new character-a little girl-seems to be at the center of it all.

© YouTube

While there aren't many secondary human characters in Disney's Little Mermaid, there seem to be quite a number here. Loreto Peralta-also Cam's sister-plays a girl who goes to the circus, and is enchanted by the mermaid she sees there. We're hoping that means that women might actually get more of a say in this film than the 1989 movie, which was infamously the first Disney movie in which men spoke more than women.

6. The mermaid-gasp-doesn't have red hair.

© YouTube

Fine, there's nothing in the rulebook to say that mermaids should all have red hair. But this new mermaid, played by Downton Abbey's Poppy Drayton, has dark tresses that definitely differentiate her from Ariel. Like Ariel, though, she can walk under certain mysterious conditions...something we're very keen to find out more about. This mermaid can sing beautifully, too.

7. Instead of losing her voice, this mermaid loses something much more devastating.

© YouTube

As Cam and his little sister investigate whether the woman in the fish tank truly is a real mermaid, someone tells them that she's trapped: "She can't leave without her soul. If she does, she dies." Is that what the evil ringleader has in this glowing pendant? 

8. There are no dinglehoppers :(

We all know Ariel was a bit of a hoarder, picking up human objects and detritus wherever she went. It was one of the ways she tried to get to know our world, and the names she came up for everyday items are frankly adorable. Get them into the dictionary! But this mermaid has a little more at stake (her soul, no less) than trying to puzzle out what a dinglehopper is with her friends. Fair enough, of course, but a little sad nonetheless.

9. There's no Flounder or Sebastian, either.

© YouTube

There is this elephant, though.

10. Instead of wanting to become more like a human, the mermaid wants to get her freedom back.

© YouTube

It always seemed unfair that to be with the man she loved and experience life on land, Ariel had to give up her tail and marine life completely. In this version, our more modern mermaid is actually trapped on the land against her will and just wants to be free-which is a far less problematic narrative than the one in which Ariel gives up her whole life just to be with a guy. (Fine, it's Prince Eric, but still.)

Watch the trailer:

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