There’s plenty that The Little Mermaid gets right as a live-action adaptation and areas where it fumbles. But with exceptional leads like Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King as Ariel and Prince Eric, the film significantly improves the romance from the animation. With the exception of Aladdin, Tangled, Robin Hood, and a few others, Disney princesses have considerably more development than the princes. And this isn’t a bad thing by any means, considering female characters seldom get attention elsewhere.
Still, where romances are concerned, most viewers want to know both characters well enough to understand why we’re rooting for their relationship to succeed. The Little Mermaid changes this by allowing Prince Eric’s solo, “Wild Uncharted Waters,” to show viewers who he is and why he deserves our titular princess’ attention. While The Little Mermaid changes parts of Prince Eric’s birth, viewers can see why he is drawn to making the kingdom a better place. It emphasizes his desire to explore and see a world outside of rules and regulations that might not always be the right calls. He knows what it’s like to have family members work to ensure the kingdom’s safety, and thus, he’s not someone willing to stand idly by and watch the world get handed to him. Instead, he’s seeking things out of his own free will, revealing through “Wild Uncharted Waters” that it’s his heart and vulnerability that he leads with.
Prince Eric’s “Wild Uncharted Waters” Allows Us to Understand His Point of View Better
In the world of romance novels, most stories feature dual perspectives, allowing readers to understand precisely why both characters fall in love with each other. In using this formula, they show various moments where walls come down and priorities shift. The song’s lyrics authenticate the detail that it’s no longer about an escape for him but something more—something more significant that he never expected. In many ways, like Ariel, Eric is also still too young to truly grasp the responsibilities thrust upon him.
In more ways than one, it’s love at first sight. It’s surface-level because they don’t know each other well enough for it to be anything more. But the immensity that comes to light in “Wild Uncharted Waters” allows us to understand Prince Eric’s character and the detail that he’s not someone who gives up easily. He’s persistent in his fight, no matter what that fight is. The idea that she’s beyond the horizon and he’s still willing to seek her out shows us his devotion as well as his dedication.
The same thing happens in the Beauty and the Beast live-action with the Beast’s “Evermore.” A musical solo is always essential when it comes to bringing the character front and center to show the depth of their adoration and how fair their loyalty extends. For Prince Eric, it’s clear as day that only Ariel could get him to this place where he’ll look toward different perspectives while standing still in the beliefs that matter toward bettering the kingdom.
The song’s lyrics aren’t exactly the most profound prose that have ever been written—they’re beautiful, yes, incredibly catchy, and so very passionate, but so much of it also has to do with how much heart Jonah Hauer-King brings to the performance. He leaves everything on the shorelines, unbridled passion striking through to every note he belts out, showcasing precisely why we should be rooting for him as a character in this love story.
The Little Mermaid is now streaming on Disney+.