Why Amy Adams' Giselle Becomes An Evil Stepmother In Disenchanted

Amy Adams is one of the premiere actors of our time, and it's still an absolute crime that she wasn't nominated for an Oscar for her performance as the Disney princess thrown into live-action New York City, Giselle, in "Enchanted." Adams as a human being already feels like the closest we'll ever get to seeing a Disney princess in real life, which made her the perfect casting choice. 

"Enchanted" saw Princess Giselle transported out of the 2D animated land of Andalasia and into the busy and bustling 3D world of the Big Apple. It was the standard fish-out-of-water story with a Disney spin, and fans couldn't get enough of it. Now, 15 years later, Giselle and her big sleeves are back, with the all-new tale of "Disenchanted." The film sees Giselle, her husband Robert (Patrick Dempsey), and daughter Morgan (Gabriella Baldacchino) as they head toward the next phase in their happily ever after, moving to a new community.

Unfortunately, things are magically thrown off balance in both our world and Andalasia, which has some unexpectedly dreadful effects. With the fairytale world and real worlds blending together, loving stepmother Giselle suddenly finds herself overtaken by the classic lore of all Disney-like fairytale lands, becoming something a bit more ... wicked. 

"It is the ultimate Disney movie because there is so much laced into it from the rest of Disney history," said director Adam Shankman in the November issue of Total Film. "I wasn't about to make an 'Enchanted' divorce movie."

Something wicked this way comes

Fans have been begging for a return to the world of "Enchanted" since the film's release in 2007, and while 15 years seems like an awfully long time, it set the stage perfectly for the "Disenchanted" story. Shankman admitted to Total Film that figuring out how to revisit the story without it becoming a blatant retread was difficult — until all of the pieces came together. 

"It was sitting right there in front of me, which is that she had this daughter [Robert's daughter, Morgan] who was aging, and Giselle, being from Andalasia, would not know how to process that change and evolution," said Shankman. "The beacon for me was that she was Morgan's stepmother and in fairytales, stepmothers are evil." So, when Giselle makes a wish for life to be simpler, the wish backfires as she herself becomes simplified into her designated fairytale villain role.

Snow White and Cinderella famously have evil stepmothers, and the trope is so well established that there have even been petitions to Disney by those pleading with the company to stop perpetuating such a negative stereotype, especially with how common blended families have become in recent years. "Amy is a huge Disney fan, and it becomes a sort of amalgamation of so many of the Disney villains," Shankman said. 

Throwing Giselle into a negative trope that is in direct opposite of her usual princess nature of kindness fits not only in terms of the continued subversion of Disney's classic films, but also in Giselle's continued adventures exploring new worlds.

The November issue of Total Film is on sale from October 13, 2022, and "Disenchanted" arrives on Disney+ on November 24, 2022.