The Genie in Aladdin
|First appearance||Aladdin (1992)|
|Created by||Eric Goldberg|
|Portrayed by||Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon a Time) |
James Monroe Iglehart (Broadway adaption)
Will Smith (Aladdin, 2019)
|Voiced by||Robin Williams (Aladdin (1992 film), Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Great Minds Think 4 Themselves shorts, Disney's MathQuest With Aladdin)|
Dan Castellaneta (The Return of Jafar, Aladdin (TV series), Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge, Kingdom Hearts-Kingdom Hearts II)
Jim Meskimen (Disney Think Fast, Kingdom Hearts Re:Coded (HD 2.5 Remix) and Kinect: Disneyland Adventures)
|Alias||Genie of the Lamp|
The Genie is a fictional Djinn appearing in Walt Disney Pictures' animated feature film Aladdin (1992). He was voiced by Robin Williams in the first film. Following a contract dispute between Williams and the Walt Disney Company, Dan Castellaneta voiced the Genie throughout the direct-to-video feature The Return of Jafar, as well as the television series, before Williams reprised the role for the final installment, Aladdin and the King of Thieves, as well as for the character's own mini-series, Great Minds Think for Themselves. Castellaneta voiced the Genie in Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge and later the Kingdom Hearts series of video games by Square Enix and Disney Interactive Studios for both Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II (with archived audio used in other Kingdom Hearts games). Jim Meskimen took over the role in Disney Think Fast (2008) and Kinect Disneyland Adventures (2011) and currently voices him, after Williams' death in 2014.
As well as largely driving the plot in the first film, the Genie serves as comic relief in each of his appearances. He is shown to have unlimited shapeshifting abilities, which allow for many and varied sight gags; however, he is unable to kill anyone, make them fall in love, fully revive the dead (he suggests that he has tried to revive the dead before but can only create zombies when he says the result is "not a pretty picture"), or provide additional wishes. The Genie's supernatural abilities permit him to break the fourth wall, as well as parody real-life people and popular culture completely beyond the boundaries of his native fictional universe. For instance, during production of Aladdin Williams would improvise various impersonations at will, and his animator Eric Goldberg would choose the ones that would be translated into the film. One of those was an imitation of Pinocchio's nose growing, which made the Genie's head turn into Pinocchio's. Composers Alan Menken and Howard Ashman had conceived the Genie as "a hip Harlem jazz singer, like Fats Waller or Cab Calloway." Thus Menken was afraid Williams would not be able to display the required singing capabilities, only changing his mind after seeing Williams perform "Friend Like Me" and "Prince Ali" at his Los Angeles home.
Reception to Williams' involvement influenced tributes following his 2014 death, with critics considering the Genie to have been his most memorable performance. Aladdin composer Alan Menken lamented that Williams was a "a brilliant, adorable, hilarious, compassionate, vulnerable manifestation of the human condition."
The Genie first appears in Aladdin, where he is released from a magical oil lamp by the titular character in the collapsed Cave of Wonders. After he explains that he can grant three wishes, Aladdin, knowing that Genie would only grant his wish to get out of the cave if he used one of his wishes, dupes him into freeing Aladdin and Abu from the cave without using a wish. At a faraway oasis, the Genie is shocked when he finds that Aladdin didn't use his first wish to get out of the cave and reluctantly agrees to let Aladdin's first wish to be spared. Asked by Aladdin what he would wish for, Genie admits he would wish for freedom, since he is a prisoner to his lamp and must follow the orders of the lamp's master (in this case, Aladdin). He accepts Aladdin's promise to use the third wish to set him free, then grants Aladdin his first wish: making him a prince so he can legally court Princess Jasmine. Genie goes into hiding after leading a parade to the Agrabah palace. Genie is released again when Aladdin is shackled, gagged, and thrown off a cliff into the ocean by Jafar's guards. He rescues Aladdin as the second wish upon liberally interpreting Aladdin's nodding head. Later, Genie has a falling out with Aladdin when he starts to think he may have to break his promise to use the third wish, out of fear of what will happen should someone find out he is not royalty.
Iago the parrot soon steals Genie's lamp and delivers it to Jafar, making Jafar Genie's new master. The Genie has no choice but to grant Jafar's first and second wish to become Sultan of Agrabah and the world's most powerful sorcerer. He is then made a slave with no purpose in life but to entertain the sadistic Jafar by tormenting the former Sultan. During the final fight between Aladdin and Jafar, the Genie is forced to grant Jafar's final wish to become an all-powerful Genie when Aladdin convinces him to do so. However, as they both know, the fulfillment of this wish causes Jafar to be imprisoned in a lamp of his own, which the Genie hurls into the desert, freeing Agrabah from his tyranny. While the Genie is now more than willing to sacrifice his freedom in order to allow Aladdin to be with Princess Jasmine, Aladdin decides to live up to his original promise and uses his final wish to free the Genie from his lamp's power, much to the latter's surprise and happiness. Aladdin still gets to marry Princess Jasmine, as the Sultan is touched by the young couple's love for one another, so he changes the law so the princess can marry whomever she pleases. The freed Genie bids an emotional goodbye to Aladdin and leaves Agrabah to explore the world.
The Return of Jafar
In The Return of Jafar, the Genie returns to Agrabah, deciding the world isn't all that great without his friends to share it with. His powers are lessened by his own admission, as a freed genie is less powerful than one bound to a lamp, though he still retains several abilities seen in the first film, most notably shape-shifting, flight and conjuration; he describes his formerly "phenomenal cosmic powers" as now only "semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic". On the night of his return, after Jasmine and Aladdin have a fight over Aladdin keeping Iago's presence secret from her, the Genie convinces Iago to help him get the couple to reconcile. Later in the film, when Aladdin, Iago and the Sultan go on an outing without him, the Genie and Abu have a picnic for themselves but are confronted by Jafar. Despite a brave fight against him, the Genie is outmatched and both he and Abu are imprisoned. Eventually, they are joined by the Sultan, Princess Jasmine and the Carpet who were all captured by Jafar. After being freed from imprisonment by a morally confused Iago, Genie saves Aladdin from being executed by the palace guards, which Jafar had orchestrated by falsely framing Aladdin for murdering the Sultan. After the heroes regroup, the Genie reveals destroying Jafar's lamp is the only way they can destroy him. Their plan to discreetly take the lamp does not go unnoticed and they are drawn into combat. Genie assists the heroes several times during this battle, by catching a falling Aladdin and by shape-shifting into him in an attempt to distract Jafar while Aladdin grabs his lamp. However, this too fails as Jafar is able to prevent Aladdin from seizing the lamp, and uses his powers to split the land open over a sea of magma. After the reformed Iago is shot down trying to hand over the lamp to Aladdin, the parrot bravely kicks the lamp into the lava and thus destroys Jafar once and for all. The Genie saves Jasmine from a dangerous situation as the ground is closing back up by stretching himself so they can get out in time. When he finds out that Iago survived the battle, he celebrates by turning into a firework.
Aladdin (TV series)
The Genie has a major supporting role in the Aladdin television series, although his contributions are sometimes limited; as an apparent side-effect of being freed from the lamp, his powers have been downgraded from his original 'phenomenal cosmic powers' to 'semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic powers', with the result that the once-omnipotent Genie is now incapable of undoing some of the spells he is confronted with and lacks some degree of his old intellect. However, he is still an indispensable member of Aladdin's team. There were many, many occasions in the TV series where the Genie's magic was crucial for the heroes to win, and the situation would have been hopeless without him.
Aladdin and the King of Thieves
In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, the Genie appears to be just as powerful as he was in the first film, as he has no problem with anything he tries, something that implies that his reduction of power was merely temporary. The Genie cameos in the Hercules: The Animated Series crossover episode "Hercules and the Arabian Night", in which he punches Pain and Panic back to the Underworld when they are tricked into looking into the lamp by Aladdin. The Genie also is a guest in Disney's House of Mouse, and acts as host in the video game Disney Think Fast.
The Genie appears in most of the installments of the Kingdom Hearts series of video games. His role in the first game is mostly the same as in the film as his lamp is found by Aladdin. The general difference is that all of Aladdin's wishes are wasted to get him out of trouble: the first wish was spent on getting rid of Heartless attacking and the second one is to rescue Princess Jasmine from Jafar. Eventually, Iago steals the Genie's lamp, forcing him to show Jafar the keyhole of Agrabah and assist him in fighting Sora and his friends. After Jafar is defeated, Aladdin wishes the Genie free from his lamp. He then becomes a summon for Sora. The Genie has much less screen time and much less to do with the plot in Kingdom Hearts II. Like in The Return of Jafar, he goes off to see the world along with Carpet. He misses most of the action, but arrives near the end of Sora's first visit and disturbs Pete when he is about to free Jafar from his lamp. Also, the Genie once again becomes a summon partner for Sora, but his newest feature is copying Sora's Drive forms and wielding his own copy of the Keyblade (excluding the Limit Form in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix). The Genie also appears briefly in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, interacting with Xion and Roxas as they make their way back to Agrabah.
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- Menken, Alan (August 15, 2014). "Exclusive: 'Aladdin' Composer Alan Menken Pens Tribute to the 'Brilliant' Robin Williams". Billboard. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
- Lewis, Hilary (August 14, 2014). "Disney Networks to Air 'Aladdin' in Honor of Robin Williams". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
- Locker, Melissa (August 12, 2014). "Robin Williams: His 5 Most Memorable Roles". Time. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved July 14, 2018.