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How Many Cinderella Adaptations Do We Need?

Camila Cabello in Cinderella (2021)

Images from the upcoming Cinderella musical romantic comedy directed by Kay Cannon were shared over the weekend. Starring singer Camila Cabello, Disney Princess Idina Menzel, and gay icon Billy Porter, the movie is promising to be a “feminist” version of the story, to which I say: sure, okay.

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Considering that over the weekend I watched the 2015 Disney remake of Cinderella, and Ever After is also now on Disney+ along with the animated Cinderella films, it just reminded me of how often we have done either a Cinderella film or something Cinderella related.

Also, as Mary Sue contributor Anya Crittenton has written before, the character of Cinderella “can be one of the most feminist, tenacious, and kind female characters,” and “she’s a princess who saves herself just as much as any other one with a sword or daring journey. The way her story is told through modern adaptations shows the evolution of both the story and evolving ideas about feminism and representation.”

We have seen Cinderella as a kind person who, despite being a victim of abuse and neglect, treats people with kindness. Feminism is something that gets put as a standard for any film with a female lead, especially these newer fairy tale adaptations that are trying to go beyond the usual ways we have depicted these characters.

I certainly think there are feminist elements to Cinderella the character, and as I’ve gotten older, seeing someone be kind in the face of cruelty is something that I find deeply inspiring. But it’s been done before. Even with casting a Latina actress, Camila Cabello, as Cinderella, they picked a white Latina, and most of the supporting cast is white.

Billy Porter playing the non-gendered fairy godparent is also interesting on paper, and I’m glad he gets to be in a fairy tale, but why not someone who is actually non-binary?

If we are going to make more Cinderella films, then the bar of “feminism” needs to be raised because Drew Barrymore already carried a prince on her back. Brandy and Keke Palmer both melanated diversity to their roles, and Brandy gave us an Asian prince. What’s next?

The 2015 remake with Lily James and Richard Madden was peak White Excellence Cinderella. At this point, it’s time to be fully non-white, queer, or something because we have multiple feminist versions of this fairy tale. I’m excited that this version will be directed and written by a woman; yay for female directors, but to quote Derek from The Swan Princess:

(image: Sony Pictures Releasing)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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