The character, traditionally portrayed in Disney's adaptations as white with blonde hair, was first revealed in the trailer for Peter Pan & Wendy, which will be released on April 28. While some fans were excited for the "first black Tinkerbell," others pointed out that Disney could have created more stories rather than reuse the same characters to give representation to other ethnic groups.
"There are incredible African stories to be told. Why does Hollywood continue to ignore this and just casts them in remakes?," wrote one Twitter user, suggesting that the corporation create a film adaptation of an underrated Nigerian fantasy film based on West African folklore instead.
"Mami Wata should be made by Disney. It is currently on the market with little coverage, especially by social media. Why?"
Another tweeter shared their thoughts: "So instead of giving poc their own movies or making new movies with poc characters, they decided to just make white characters black for some reason to be like heey we are so accepting we support everyone.. this is so weird."
Yet another Twitter user pointed out that Shahidi already resembles another fairy in Disney's Tinkerbell universe, a black fairy with magical sun powers named Iridessa.
"The reason studios make beloved characters black in the live action adaptations is so they don’t have to go to the trouble of actually giving special, brand new unique characters made from scratch to black people," said another critic.
Other race-bent depictions of classic Disney characters include Halle Bailey's portrayal of Princess Ariel in the upcoming adaptation of The Little Mermaid, to be released on May 26.
"What audiences deserve: More original ethnic/diverse characters like Tiana, Moana, Hiro, and Raya," wrote one more Twitter user.
"What they'll give us: Inexplicably modified characters like black Ariel, nonbinary Hercules, female Quasimodo, and trans Kuzco."
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