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‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Made Eric and Ariel’s Love Make Sense

Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King play Ariel and Eric as they fall in love in the 2023 live-action remake of The Little Mermaid

Loving Prince Eric has been part of my personality for as long as I can remember—at least 25 years of my life (probably longer) spent loving the blue-eyed wonder that Ariel herself fell in love with, but as I grew up, I noticed that Ariel and Eric’s love for each other in the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid didn’t necessarily make sense.

That’s not because I didn’t understand the lust a young woman has for an attractive boy. I very much do understand that feeling extremely well. It’s more so because Eric and Ariel barely have time to know each other or even really talk in the film. Well, to be fair, Ariel was doing no talking around him due to the plot, but still. Their relationship was very much a girl with a crush and a man who was in love with an idea, and we never really saw anything connecting them past that. But because the movie was all about love, it forced them together.

That’s a a staple of most Disney movies, with some exceptions, but the “love” story often comes after two characters barely spend time with one another. The live-action takes on the classic stories, on the other hand, give us a new opportunity to explore their romances with each other.

Now, in The Little Mermaid’s live-action remake, Ariel and Eric connect and spend time together in a way that makes us understand how the two fell in love, despite being complete strangers when Ariel got her footing. In the 2023 remake starring Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King, Ariel and Eric still have that crush at the start, but the two also grow together and explore Eric’s home together in a way that the original movie never did, and it makes for a deeper understanding of their love. They love looking at maps in Eric’s castle. They’re spending time together, and it’s not simply a case of a girl and a man who thinks this woman who saved him is the answer.

It’d be easy to do the same story and change nothing, but The Little Mermaid uses its runtime to spend time with Ariel and Eric as they grow together and understand one another and then makes it clear that when Vanessa shows up, Eric is bewitched by her. It, as a whole, makes the love story something more interesting to watch and less of a story of a man falling in love with a girl just because of her looks. Eric loves Ariel because she’s beautiful and they share interests and like to spend time with each other.

It’s more interesting for us to watch, we finally understand their love for each other, and it’s overall just a better look at Eric and Ariel as a couple.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.