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“VING RHAMES IS RIGHT THERE”: Lilo & Stitch Fans Fuming Over Cobra Bubbles Casting

Many viewers eagerly awaiting Disney’s forthcoming live-action Lilo & Stitch remake are expressing their frustration over the casting choice for Cobra Bubbles. It was recently announced that Emmy-winning actor Courtney B. Vance would portray the former CIA agent turned social worker in Dean Fleischer Camp’s live-action remake of the 2002 Disney animated film. Vance joins the film’s growing cast list, which includes Zach Galifianakis as agent Wendy Pleakley, Kahiau Machado as David, Chris Sanders as the voice of Stitch, Sydney Agudong as Nani, and newcomer Maia Kealoha as Lilo.

While Courtney B. Vance is a renowned actor in his own right, many fans have taken to Twitter to voice their disappointment that popular fan choice Ving Rhames was not cast as Cobra Bubbles in the live-action Lilo & Stitch remake. Citing that the original animated character was not only voiced by Rhames but was also modeled after his Pulp Fiction character, Marsellus Wallace, many users were left disappointed by the missed opportunity for the beloved actor to reprise the role that he is seemingly perfect for. Check out some fan reactions below:

The negative online reaction to Vance’s casting continues an unfortunate trend for the Lilo & Stitch remake, which has already been fraught with controversy regarding its casting choices. Though fan reception for Maia Kealoha as Lilo was met with satisfaction, this optimism did not last long. As the casting for the remaining central characters in Lilo & Stitch became revealed, Disney was immediately met with widespread accusations of colorism.

When it was announced that Lilo’s protective older sister Nani would be played by Sydney Agudong, social media was flooded with outrage over the choice as the actor has a noticeably lighter skin tone than her animated counterpart. Grievances over the film’s alleged whitewashing continued when Kahiau Machado was cast as David, Nani’s love interest. Some side-by-side comparisons of the live-action actors with the original animated characters were created to display the stark differences in their appearances and how their casting seems to be an erasure of the aspects of Native Hawaiian culture that the original film sought to champion.

As many disappointed social media users have pointed out, the casting controversy surrounding Lilo & Stitch reflects the larger issue of rampant colorism in the film industry. Considering that the original animation was the first feature-length animated film set in Hawaii and its authentic depiction of many native Hawaiian cultural practices, the apparent frustration over the film’s development is understandable. While those working on the film in its early stages of development have declined to comment on the ongoing controversy, broad changes in their approach will need to be made for the Lilo & Stitch remake to achieve the same level of authenticity and representation as the beloved original.

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