Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast is rounding out its cast, making it so much easier to imagine just how this fairytale will unfold. We already know that Emma Watson will play Belle, the bookish beauty with the heart of gold, and that Luke Evans will play the villainous Gaston. Now, we finally have our "Beast" — Dan Stevens has been cast as the cursed prince in the live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated Disney film. Taking on the iconic character is a huge step in Stevens career, which so far mostly consists of supporting roles. But while the role is certainly iconic, I'm hoping that his casting changes prompts Disney to change the role for the better before Stevens steps into the Beast's shoes — or, I guess, paws?
Though it's not clear how far producers are straying from the previous animated version, some things will most likely be changed in order to adapt to the new format. The Beast could — and should — fall under the things that are tweaked when the story moves from animation to live-action. Here's how Disney could alter the Beast's character to suit the new story.
Give the Beast a better reason to hold Belle captive.
Oh, you don't remember that part of the love story? Let me refresh your memory. After capturing Belle's father, the Beast gives her the opportunity to either stay with him and have her dad go free, or have her dad live in his prison for the rest of his life. Belle decides to stay with the Beast as his prisoner, and ends up falling for him, so... Stockholm Syndrome, much? Giving the Beast a better (less awful) reason to have Belle as a guest in his castle would make it much easier to digest the whole romance at the end of the film.
Cut out the verbal abuse entirely.
I don't care how patient Belle is — screaming at your houseguest is never, ever okay. I know the point of the film is to show the Beast's redemption, but depicting him as borderline abusive is not something that children need to see — especially in a live-action version of the story. Make the Beast conceited, arrogant, an elitist pig — but don't make this new story about a woman changing a man who is abusive towards her.
Let him change Belle, too.
I love Beauty and the Beast, and Belle is easily one of my favorite princesses. But the idea that a woman has the power to "calm" a man with her femininity is exactly a great message. The new film can build upon the main relationship by showing how both parties help build one another up — perhaps the Beast has certain qualities that Belle can also learn from.
If the film strips away what many people (myself included) see as an abusive nature in the Beast, we are left with a story about people learning to accept others, despite their initial perceptions, and watching the couple grow together is an important part of the love story that the animated film left out. Give Belle a place to start from and grow towards, and let the Beast be a part of it of helping her do it.