Prince Eric’s New Backstory in “The Little Mermaid” Makes His Romance With Ariel More Meaningful

Everett Collection / Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection

The live-action “The Little Mermaid” movie, which hit theaters on May 26, stayed almost entirely faithful to the original animation that came out in 1989. Still, it did make small changes. Apart from the four new songs added to the film, some notable tweaks to Prince Eric’s story made his and Ariel’s love story all the more meaningful.

Read on to get a breakdown of how the creators behind the new live-action Little Mermaid brought Prince Eric’s character into the 21st century.

Prince Eric’s Backstory in the Original “The Little Mermaid”

In the original “The Little Mermaid,” Prince Eric’s backstory is pretty one-note. He’s a handsome, adventurous prince in search of a wife when he’s saved from drowning by Ariel amid a shipwreck. When he awakes to Ariel singing to him, he immediately becomes enamored with her and her voice, but his story (and thus, the characters’ connection) essentially begins and ends there.

While their love story is beloved, it’s arguably shallow, and the new live-action film remedies that.

Prince Eric’s Backstory in the Live-Action “The Little Mermaid”

In Disney’s 2023 retelling of “The Little Mermaid,” Prince Eric (now played by Jonah Hauer-King) and Princess Ariel have much more in common from the get-go, thanks to some much-needed development in Eric’s backstory.

It’s revealed early on in the film that Prince Eric was not born a prince. Instead, it turns out, he was rescued from a shipwreck (the one that killed his birth parents) and adopted by the island’s Queen (played by Noma Dumezweni). While he’s lived a happy life with his mother as a royal, he, like Ariel, feels like another world calls to him: the sea.

Prince Eric and the Queen constantly butt heads over Eric’s desire to explore at sea, much like Ariel’s conflict with King Triton over her love for the land of humans. So Eric and Ariel bond through their knowledge of land and sea. In a new scene added to the film, Eric excitedly teaches Ariel about the various lands he’s visited on his adventures, while Ariel teaches Eric about the different sea life he’s collected over the years.

While these changes are minimal, they still add much more color to Eric and Ariel’s love story, which will make you love the Disney Princess movie couple even more.

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