Disney’s Peter Pan & Wendy Changes A Classic Character And No One Is Happy

Disney's upcoming live-action feature Peter Pan and Wendy cast POC actress Yara Shahidi as Tinkerbell, and some people are upset.

By Melissa Murphy | Updated

Peter Pan

Fans of the 1953 animated classic have been looking forward to the live-action remake Peter Pan and Wendy, set to air exclusively on Dinsey+ this April. The trailer for the remake just came out and had some fans outraged over the casting choices, especially for everyone’s favorite fairy. Iranian actress Yara Shahidi will be Peter Pan and Wendy’s newest Tinkerbell, and not everyone is happy about it. 

Tinkerbell in the original animated film has fair skin and light blond hair, while Yara Shahidi has darker skin and brown hair. DiscussingFilm posted on Twitter a first look at the new Tinkerbell after the release of the trailer. Many fans took the opportunity to share their opinion on the Peter Pan and Wendy’s casting choices for Tinkerbell.

Some were not afraid to express their outrage for Tinkerbell being portrayed as black and wanted to see the character kept true to history. Others accused Disney of picking actors only for the color of their skin. Trying to drum out the haters, a user named Mario took to the thread to try to defend Disney and their casting choices.

Even for some white viewers getting to see representation from Disney is a great thing. The classic era of Disney films was filled with racist stereotypes and really only followed white protagonists. In the modern day, many want to see a more diverse cast in films, and Disney is responding to that. 

When the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was released, many fans were upset to see black actress Halle Bailey taking the lead as Ariel. Now fans are dubbing Peter Pan and Wendy “Ariel 2.0” over Yara Shahidi being cast as Tinkerbell. However, while some are upset not to see a more traditional Tinkerbell in the upcoming film, others are praising Disney over the casting of Tiger Lilly.

Tiger Lilly is part of Neverland’s indigenous tribe. The original animated film has been criticized for its portrayal of the natives, namely in the song “What Makes the Red Man Red.” Disney has also been criticized for “whitewashing” the character when white actress Rooney Mara played her in Pan. 

peter pan tinkerbell

While Peter Pan and Wendy’s Tinkerbell upset many who watched the trailer, the casting of Tiger Lilly was exciting to many. She will be played by Indigenous actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk. Many believe casting an Indigenous actor to play Tiger Lilly is a good way to set the character up to begin rewriting her problematic past. 

On Twitter, it appears some fans do not care who the characters are cast as long as they get a quality film to look forward to. Many just want to see Tinkerbell in all her glory and don’t care as much about the color of her skin.

After uninspired remakes of Dumbo and The Lion King being released in 2019, fans are simply excited for something new and are hoping Peter Pan and Wendy will be able to pull that off along with the new Tinkerbell. 

Whether you love or hate the new Tinkerbell, the film is sure to be a hit, with many tuning in to see their favorite characters once again. Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Wendy, and crew can all be seen in Peter Pan and Wendy when the film airs on Disney+ this April.