Well, the trailer for Snow White and the Huntsman looks visually bonkers in a way that I expect will force Tsarem Singh to up his game with Mirror, Mirror, his competing fairy tale adaptation also due out next year:
Also, it’s nice to see that Chris Hemsworth is getting to use his throwing-dangerous-objects skills from Thor in another movie: way to recycle, Hollywood!
When this trailer came out on Friday, Dodai Stewart over at Jezebel heaved a sigh over both Snow White movies, saying, “But despite looking at the story in a new way, both films feature overwhelmingly white casts. How new and twisty.” I don’t really think either of these adaptations is that new and twisty, though, and ultimately, I think that’s the key to both reinvigorating our fairy tale archetypes and to getting more diverse casting in those fairy tales. Sure, Snow White and the Huntsman has some action-y, monster-y stuff going on, but it’s still the same essential setting, a Christian, European feudal state, and the same basic conflict between two women. Mirror, Mirror, if anything, looks more traditional, with its Snow White in Disneyfied dresses rather than in armor.
You want a non-white or a mixed-race cast, and a genuinely fresh rethinking of the story? Switch regions or continents, and upset the dynamic between some of the main characters considerably. If Snow and the Seven ever gets made, we’ll get a kung-fu twist on the fairy tale, with Chinese warriors from different schools in place of a dwarf-run woodlands B and B. Want to stick to medieval Europe? Why not set the story in Al-Andalus, or during the Reconquista, and throw some genuine religious conflict in a story about a regime that’s trying to solidify itself in the face of an existential threat. Make Snow White a commoner rising up against the monarchy as the head of a peasant’s revolt, or a key player in a fictionalized version of the Haitian revolution. Or make the Evil Queen her mother, not just her stepmother, and use the story to explore mother-daughter rivalry in a much more direct and murderous way. I’m all for color-blind casting. But if we’re satisfied with the same old stories with different people schlepping through the same old parts, that feels like an awfully partial victory to me.