For a studio that’s infamously protective of its cutesy, child-friendly aesthetic, The Walt Disney company is weirdly fond of gritty reboots at the moment.
While the “Beauty and the Beast” live-action reimagining is hardly as dark and dour as, say “Maleficent”, this wasn’t necessarily for lack of trying – apparently, the House of Mouse wanted this movie to pave the way for a grim, gritty sequel starring Luke Evans in the lead role.
It always seemed odd that Evans would be so willing to risk his own career – and the danger of being typecast in future – by portraying the literal Disney embodiment of toxic masculinity. Perhaps, it makes a little more sense that he would sign up for this movie when you consider that he might have been promised his own starring role as a hideous monster in a sequel.
According to TheWrap, this planned spin-off movie, which was only cancelled at the “eleventh hour”, would have seen Gaston being cursed by the same enchantress who turned Dan Stevens’ Prince Adam into a beast in the first place.
Disney, no doubt pretty confident (and rightly so) that “Beauty and the Beast” would clear a billion dollars at the box office, seemed eager to set up another movie to essentially double their takings.
Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that this never happened.
Leaving aside the fact that the live-action “Beauty and the Beast” is a poorly-directed, shallow cash grab, and the fact that Evans never really brings the kind of gravitas that one would hope for from a Gaston, this is one character from the pantheon of Disney villains that doesn’t need a sympathetic turn as a hero.
Sure, it’d be nice to see Gaston learn the error of his ways, but all the talk in the first movie about a mysterious “war” suggests that this movie would be filled with more than a few macho flashbacks of a pompous windbag tearing his way through opponents in the pre-revolutionary French army.
We’d no doubt have been given some kind of softening explanation for Gaston’s vanity, presented in such a way as to try and make the audience see his side of things, which would be wholly unwelcome. Gaston doesn’t deserve pity, and nobody wants to try and see things from his perspective considering his repeated attempts at manipulation, treachery, and murder, all in the name of getting a leg over the hottest woman in town.
Gaston works best as a pastiche of the kinds of self-important, entitled morons who are so vain and pompous that they don’t stop to consider the feelings and needs of others. He’s not Malificent – we don’t need to see how he’s been unfairly judged by society.
Even though the whole point of “Beauty and the Beast” is that you can’t judge a book by its cover, the idea of learning what makes Gaston tick feels like a complete waste of time when it’s very clear that he’d rather throw any book he comes across into a thick pile of mud.