- “What would you wish of me? The ever-impressive, the long-contained, the often imitated, but never duplicated...
Genie of the Lamp!”
- ―Genie introducing himself to Aladdin
Genie was originally voiced by the late Robin Williams, whose, then, unconventional method of voice acting proved to be groundbreaking, resulting in universal acclaim and the character becoming one of the most iconic and influential characters in the history of animated films.
Like most popular depictions of genies, Disney's Genie was originally a slave. Though he possesses "phenomenal cosmic powers", he is bound to an "itty bitty living space" and can only use his powers when the owner of the lamp (his master) makes a wish; he occasionally does things without granting a wish, but never anything that greatly affects the world around him. He is also bound by three laws; he cannot kill anyone, he cannot make people fall in love with each other, and he cannot revive the dead. It is possible, however, that he can do the third one, but as he puts it, "It's not a pretty picture. I don't like doing it!". Alternatively, it could mean that while he can revive a person's corpse, he cannot bring them back proper. Each master has three wishes, and cannot exceed this amount by wishing for more wishes. The lamp comes into the possession of Aladdin during the course of the first film, and he remains in servitude until Aladdin uses his third and final wish to grant Genie his freedom at the end of the film.
As well as largely driving the plot in the first movie, Genie serves as a comic relief element in each of his appearances. He is shown to have shape-shifting abilities, which allow for many and varied sight gags. His supernatural disposition permits him to break the fourth wall, as well as parody real-life people and popular culture completely outside of the boundaries of the universe in which he is contained. Robin Williams is responsible for most of these because he improvised many of the lines in the film. Genie's true name, if he has one, has never been revealed; he answers to being called "Genie", and never says that he has a real name. Along with the character of Iago, he is one of the most well recognized of characters from Disney's Aladdin franchise.
John Musker and Ron Clements created Genie with Robin Williams in mind, even though Disney studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg suggested names such as John Candy, Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, Williams was approached and eventually accepted the role. Williams came for voice recording sessions during breaks in the shooting of his other two films at the time, Hook and Toys. Unusually for an animated film, much of Williams' dialogue was ad-libbed: for some scenes, Williams was given topics and dialogue suggestions, but allowed to improvise his lines. It was estimated that Williams improvised 52 characters. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for Genie, then reviewed Wililams' recorded dialogue and selected the best gags and lines. Goldberg and his crew then created character animation to match Williams' jokes, puns, and impersonations.
Full of life, and bursting with positive energy, the Genie is a happy-go-lucky character, with power and abilities primarily used to concoct humorous jokes for the amusement of both himself, and those around him.
Having spent a majority of his early life (over 10,000 years) trapped within a lamp, Genie tends to take advantage of his extremely rare moments of freedom by exploiting his incredible powers to, as mentioned above, entertain his new masters and acquaintances. Because of this, Genie comes off as a flamboyant showman when first introduced. In addition, when first greeted, the genie immediately becomes loyal to his new master, and continuously emphasizes the fact that his purpose is to magically enhance their lives by any means necessary (so long as it doesn't interfere with the three rules of wishing).
Though generally loyal, and extremely devoted to whomever holds temporary ownership of the lamp, Genie has a will and mind of his own, outside the bounds of a typical genie slave. An example of this can easily be seen when confessing his ultimate dream to gain freedom from his lamp prison; and to live a life outside of serving others. Additionally, as seen with Aladdin, he is capable of forming meaningful relationships with those he must serve, and this genuine loyalty is what ultimately leads to his freedom.
Though manic and explosive, Genie notably has a softer side to his character; one that is compassionate, wise, and serious when necessary. This is indicated by his tone, which changes from wily and exuberant, to low and soft in order to get a serious point across.
Powers and Abilities
Genie is one of the most powerful major character in the Disney universe shown so far. As shown in the first movie, he could easily break the laws of nature, shape shift into virtually anything, break the fourth wall, warp reality at a whim, lift the palace of Agrabah with no problems, give other people his power, undo the works of any magic (though mixing his magic with someone else's had consequences), and escape a magically sealed cave. However, he had three limits to his abilities (And also refuses to accept substitutions, exchanges, refunds and wishing for more wishes); he cannot kill, he cannot make people fall in love, and he cannot raise the dead (though he states that he can indeed perform resurrections, but simply does not enjoy doing so as the resurrected are implied to be turned zombies in which he describes as "not a pretty picture"). Aside from these three limitations, he was virtually-omnipotent.
After getting his freedom, it is unclear of these limitations still implied, although he stated that he had suffered a reduction in power due to his new freedom, describing his current powers as now being "semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic power" as opposed to his previous "phenomenal cosmic power". Due to his weakened state as opposed to Jafar's full power, the now-genie Jafar defeated him during the "You're Only Second Rate", musical number as well as deflecting all of his magical attacks. However, he still has a nearly unlimited amount of magical knowledge and all his shape shifting abilities. He also has high magic power, but was unable to undo certain forms of magic; a weakness with disastrous consequences in the television series, such as when he had trouble turning Jasmine back to normal after she was turned into a rat by a magic mirror, or his inability to break a spell cast by Sadira that brainwashed Aladdin into thinking that he was a dragon-slaying knight. It was revealed in The Return of Jafar that he can also flawlessly imitate the voices and appearances of others, as seen when he shape shifts into Aladdin in the ultimately failed attempt to distract Jafar while the real Aladdin grabs the latter's lamp.
Eventually though, Genie was shown to have regained his strength in Aladdin and the King of Thieves, where he had no problem with anything he tried. Genie is perhaps the 3rd (possibly 4th) strongest character to be shown in the series, with the only characters shown to be stronger are Fate, Chaos, and Jafar.
Genie makes his debut when he is released from a magical oil lamp by Aladdin in the collapsed Cave of Wonders. After he reveals that he can grant three wishes, he is tricked into freeing Aladdin and Abu from the cave without using a wish. At a faraway oasis, Aladdin asks Genie what he would wish for. He admits he would wish for freedom, since he is a prisoner to his lamp and must follow the orders of its master.
After accepting a promise from Aladdin that he will use the third wish to set him free, Genie grants Aladdin his first wish: making him a prince so Jasmine will fall in love with him and he can marry her. Genie goes into hiding in the lamp after leading a parade to the Agrabah palace. That night, following Aladdin making a bad impression in front of Jasmine, Genie (as a bee) encourages him to be honest and tell the princess (with dramatic visual aids) the truth about himself, but Aladdin refuses, believing that he will be rejected. Genie reminds Aladdin to be himself before going back into his lamp.
Later, Genie is released again when Aladdin is shackled, gagged, and thrown off a cliff into the ocean by Jafar's guards. Genie rescues Aladdin as the second wish after liberally interpreting Aladdin's nodding head. The next day, Genie feels hurt when Aladdin considers going back on his promise of setting him free, mainly because of the pressures of being sultan weighing on his mind. Losing faith in Aladdin, Genie goes back into his lamp, upset. It is later stolen and delivered to Jafar by Iago, making Jafar Genie's new master.
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, respectively. He uproots the palace from its foundation and places them onto a nearby mountain. 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, Aladdin reminds Jafar that Genie is still more powerful than him. As a result, Genie is forced to grant Jafar's final wish to become an all-powerful genie.
However, soon after this wish is fulfilled, Jafar becomes imprisoned in a black lamp of his own. Genie commends Aladdin for his genius and hurls Jafar's lamp into the desert, freeing Agrabah from Jafar's tyranny. While initially more than willing to sacrifice his freedom in order to allow Aladdin to be with Jasmine, Aladdin decides to live up to his original promise and uses his final wish to free Genie from his lamp's power. (In this film, Genie loses the bangles around his wrists which signifies his freedom from the lamp. In the sequel and all other appearances however, he still has them, possibly now as jewelry.) The now-free Genie leaves Agrabah to explore the world.
In the 1994 direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar, Genie returns to Agrabah, deciding that the world is not all that great without his friends to share it with. He tells Aladdin and Jasmine that he is no longer as powerful as he once was because free genies are not as strong as genies bound by lamps. Instead of having phenomenal cosmic powers with an itty bitty living space, he now has "semi-phenomenal, nearly cosmic powers" and is as free as a bird. Despite the fact that he lost some of his power when he was freed, he still appears to be roughly as powerful as Jafar is in the first film after he makes his second wish and becomes the most powerful sorcerer in the world. He can fly, shape shift, conjure things out of thin air, and make them disappear.
That night, when Jasmine gets angry at Aladdin for hiding from her the fact that he brought Iago back to the palace, Genie convinces Iago to help get Aladdin and Jasmine back together. Later, he is confronted by Jafar and imprisoned alongside Abu. Jafar is able to do this because he was still bound by his lamp and thus had access to all the power that came with it. If Jafar had been freed from his lamp by Abis Mal, his power would have been downgraded and he would have most likely been just as powerful as Genie, but no more powerful. Ironically, Jafar wishes to become a genie to become even more powerful than he already was, and it came with a price. If Jafar had been freed, he would only have been as powerful as he was before becoming a genie, making his third wish a waste.
After being freed from Jafar's imprisonment by a morally confused Iago, Genie saves Aladdin from being executed by the palace guards, who Jafar had tricked into believing that Aladdin had murdered the Sultan.
Together they decide that Jafar must be stopped once and for all and Genie says that the only way to destroy Jafar is to destroy his lamp. Genie later attempts to discreetly grab Jafar's lamp, but is unable to do so. When Aladdin attempts to grab the lamp in front of Jafar, Jafar blows him out of the thrown room into the palace garden, and Genie saves Aladdin from serious injury by catching him when he falls. He then assists Aladdin in the final battle against Jafar by shape shifting into Aladdin in an attempt to distract him while Aladdin grabs his lamp. However, Jafar catches on in time to stop Aladdin from reaching his lamp. Fortunately the reformed Iago manages to kick Jafar's lamp into lava, thus destroying Jafar. While this happens, Genie saves Jasmine and Abu from a dangerous situation as the ground is closing back up. When he finds out that Iago survived the battle, he celebrates by turning into a firework.
Genie has a major supporting role in the Aladdin television series, set between The Return of Jafar and Aladdin and the King of Thieves. In the series, being that his power lowered after his freedom, the villains in the series hold a better chance a succeeding but not extremely. While he beats monsters and saves the day when the heroes are in trouble, he does not do everything for them. Because he lost some of his power when he was freed, he cannot solve every problem that comes up with the snap of a finger, so it is often up to Aladdin and his friends to do their own fighting and save themselves. However, he is still an indispensable member of the group. There are many, many occasions in the TV series where Genie's magic is crucial for the heroes to win and the situation would have been hopeless without him.
During the course of the show, Genie meets a love interest, a genie named Eden. Unlike Genie, she still has a master. Several episodes revolve around Genie as well as some recurring series plots. In some episodes Genie is being hunted down by the evil sorcerer Mozenrath so that he can use Genie's powers for evil. Other episode plots involve being chased down by a Genie's natural enemy the Mukhtar who later becomes friends with Genie after Genie saves his life while they are working together towards a common goal.
Aladdin and Jasmine are about to wed and the excited Genie spends the morning preparing. He decorates the city and informs the citizens of the special event. He is also Aladdin's best man as well as wedding planner, decorator, valet and more. During the ceremony, Genie and his friends are attacked by the Forty Thieves. Genie battles with ease having the villains retreat.
After the dust settles, Genie is with the task of rebuilding and reorganizing the wedding. Aladdin learns they were after a scepter that unleashes an Oracle. The Oracle has the answer to every question and Aladdin uses the opportunity to learn the whereabouts of his father. Genie and the others finds out he's the King of Thieves and while Aladdin goes to find him, Genie stays behind to fix up the wedding pavilion.
After time passes, Jasmine begins to worry for Aladdin's safety until Genie comes in and uses a mix of comedy and heart to re-ensure Jasmine of Aladdin's safety and to cheer her up. He and Jasmine spend time planning the theme for the wedding and different outfits to try. That morning, Aladdin and the others arrive with a mysterious man. Genie is told that the man is the King of Thieves. Genie, in shock, uses his high-tech security system to prepare an attack, but is told that the man is Aladdin's father, Cassim. Genie quickly welcomes him into the family.
That night, Cassim is exposed as the king of thieves and caught attempting to steal the scepter with Iago. After Razoul alerts the Sultan, he has no choice but to put him behind bars. After requesting from Genie his father's clothes, Aladdin breaks Cassim and Iago out and is ready for the punishment but Genie and Jasmine take up for him having the Sultan forgive and forget. Genie tries to ease Aladdin's anger and convinces him to save his father after he's been double crossed by his former henchman. They go off to an island where lies the Hand of Midas. Genie begins to sink the island while Aladdin and the others battle the thieves and save Cassim. After all is good, Genie attends the wedding and watches Aladdin and Jasmine fly off on Carpet.
During the post-credits scene, Genie appears on the black screen and says "Game over man! Game over!" (a reference to a similar line by the character Hudson from Aliens (1986) before disappearing magically, indicating that the film is the last installment of the Aladdin trilogy.
In a series of short segments called Great Minds Think For Themselves, played during the first two seasons of Disney's One Saturday Morning, Genie talks about historical characters and events like George Washington Carver and Louis Armstrong. Robin Williams reprised his role for these segments.
Genie makes a brief cameo appearance in the Quack Pack episode "Ducks By Nature" on the television set that Huey, Dewey and Louie are watching.
Genie makes a cameo 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 (only his hand is seen).
Genie makes numerous appearances in the series House of Mouse. Genie is usually found with Abu, Iago and Jafar. In Mickey's Magical Christmas, Genie takes part of the ending song and seen on stage with a microphone. Genie was seen poofing out of his lamp during the headcount of all of the guest in the episode "Ask Von Drake". Genie is also seen being trapped in the kitchen with other heroes in Mickey's House of Villains.
Genie makes a non-speaking cameo in the form of a silhouette during the finale of The Lion King 1½, joining several other Disney characters in watching the film.
Genie plays a large, and notable role in the Broadway stage adaptation of the film, portrayed by James Monroe Iglehart. Since the show's debut in 2014, Iglehart's portrayal of Genie has received critical acclaim from audiences and critics, alike, winning a Tony Award for Best Actor and interestingly echoing the reception of Robin Williams' original portrayal of him back in 1992.
In this version, Genie replaces the Peddler famous for singing "Arabian Nights"; harkening back to the original concept of having the Peddler reveal to be him at the end of the first film. As such, he performs "Arabian Nights" and disappears until his iconic introduction in the Cave of Wonders.
Like in the original, Genie provides heavy comedy and fast-pace dialogue throughout the story, some of which includes pop culture references, self-aware humor, and 4th wall jokes. Notably, in the extended Broadway version of "Friend Like Me", he adds a medley of popular Alan Menken (the man behind the music of both versions of Aladdin) including Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Pocahontas.
On the day that the news arrived that Robin Williams had died, James performed the song "Friend Like Me," with the rest of the cast, at the end of the show as a tribute to the legendary actor.
Aladdin video games
In the video game adaptations of Aladdin, Genie's role is more or less the same as in the film.
In the popular RPG franchise, Genie plays a recurring role, originally featured as a major character in the world of Agrabah, reliving his role from the original film during the adventures of the heroic Sora, Donald Duck, and Goofy as they travel throughout Disney worlds to defeat enemies known as the heartless, whom Genie is able to take out with great ease, being that his power was so immense. Since his debut in the original Kingdom Hearts, Genie has regularly been featured as a "summon" for Sora, a Disney companion who aids Sora during his adventures outside the respective worlds they originate from. The role would continue in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts II (which he played a considerably smaller role in). Alongside Carpet, though in Agrabah, Genie would also be featured in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days during the adventures of the character Roxas. A data version of Genie would also appear in Kingdom Hearts Re:coded.
In the first game, Genie utilizes magic in a technique known as "Showtime," in which he casts random magic like the Thunder, Gravity, and Stop families. He retains this ability in Chain of Memories (and it's remake Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories), though in this game the level of Showtime determines how many spells of these three spell types Genie will randomly cast before leaving. In Kingdom Hearts II, he wields a replica of the Keyblade and can also replicate Sora's Drive Forms, using Limits associated with the Forms to attack enemies on Sora's whim. The only exception is Sora's Limit Form as that form was originally introduced in Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.
He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta in English, with Jim Meskimen replacing him for the HD Reproduction of Kingdom Hearts Re:coded as part of Kingdom Hearts HD II.5 ReMIX. His Japanese voice in these games is done by Kōichi Yamadera.
Genie is a non-playable character in the game, serving as its host.
Genie accompanies Aladdin in the "Mickey's Soundsational Parade" mini-game. Like in the actual parade, Genie is seen in front of Aladdin's float. He also appears as an unlocked meet-and-greet character in Adventureland. After he comes out of hiding, Genie asks the player to take pictures of the outfits being worn by the other princesses throughout the park, as he has promised to make a new gown for Jasmine but is not up to date with princess fashion styles. Later on in the game, Aladdin needs to find the pieces of some scarabs so that he can make a new necklace for Jasmine. After the player recovers the scarabs, they take them to Genie to fix. Unfortunately, when Genie fixes them, they turn into flying golden scarabs and fly off. The player then has to go catch them and take them to Aladdin.
Genie makes an appearance in Disney INFINITY as a townsperson. In the 3DS version, he will grant a player three wishes. One is a Emblem, the second is to power up all characters, and the third is 200 coins. There may be more wishes. He is also mentioned by Jasmine and Aladdin when they get leveled up, which Jasmine states that she believes there are more people that have magic like him, and Aladdin says that he will soon be as powerful as Genie.
Genie is a meet-able character in the Disney Parks. Genie can also be seen in a poster in the queue area of Mickey's PhilharMagic and can be seen in many parades and shows.
At The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, he can be seen around the ride in some parks, but in others, his lamp is the only reference
Genie appears in the water spectacular in Disney's California Adventure Park at the Disneyland Resort. He appears in the middle of the show following Aladdin and Jasmine singing "Friend Like Me" in dazzling light and water sparks. He also appears as a puppet in the pre-show, Carnival of Color. The puppet was later reused in the Paint the Night Electrical Parade, along with Tigger and Lumière.
Genie appears in the Walt Disney World version of the show in the bubble sequence where he dances to "Friend Like Me" and the steamboat finale in 2013. In the Tokyo DisneySea version, Genie gets a full sequence based on "Friend Like Me".
Genie appears in the band unit of the parade, conducting Goofy, Chip 'n' Dale and the Golden Harp. Genie's part was initially taken on by Roger Rabbit, but issues with Amblin led to Roger's replacement.
At this 3-D film and live-action show hybrid at Tokyo DisneySea, Genie plays a part in a magic act, but he and his lamp are locked away when the magician he is helping grows jealous of his power. Now, the magician's apprentice seeks to release Genie and give the audience a real magic show.
Genie appears in the musical show at Disney's California Adventure and on the Disney Cruise. In the show Genie plays out the same role in the film and gives different jokes reflecting current events in the news for nearly every showing.
Genie is the lead Disney character in the show and the leader of the "magic makers" that help a practical father believe in magic. Genie first appears inside the father's home and informs him about the journey he's about to venture on. At the end, Genie and the magic makers celebrate the father's new imagination.
Genie guides the park guests during their quest to defeat Jafar in Adventureland. Genie also assists the guests in the final battle, but is tied to a chair and gagged by Jafar's magic. After Jafar is defeated, Genie is freed and rejoices in the defeat of his foe alongside Merlin.
Genie is an unofficial mascot of DisneyQuest. Upon entering at ground level, one is brought by an elevator (here called a "cybrolator," containing a short & humorous animation of Genie welcoming you) up to the center of the third floor (the "Ventureport"), where one's visit begins. He is also heard on the end-of-day closing announcements. When a game or attraction is down, a sign reading "The Genie has spotted a technical problem..." is displayed.
Genie makes a cameo on the luggage scanner run by G2-9T. Other Disney Characters and droids are also being smuggled onto the Star Speeders.
The current version of the Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights now includes the Genie float. LED lights on the Genie change into any of the Disney characters (Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, etc.).
Genie appears in the show Mickey and the Wondrous Book performed in Storybook Theater at Hong Kong Disneyland.
- Genie was listed #20 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating his stroke of genius as the "Prince Ali" musical number, which sees Genie perform the main song but also transform himself into crowd members to start a hundred different rumors as Aladdin, disguised as a prince, makes his triumphal entry into the city.
- Before Robin Williams was cast, actors like Eddie Murphy, John Candy, and Steve Martin were considered to voice him.
- Genie's weakness is sealed bottles and containers, which he's (unfortunately) easily tricked into.
- Despite Genie not being the lead character---his first appearance in the Aladdin series isn't until about halfway through the original movie---he's the most famous and the most popular character in the series.
- The designers had a hard time creating Genie, because they wanted him to be a character that could only exist in the realm of imagination, and to do that, they shaped him like a living cloud of smoke.
- Animator Eric Goldberg once said that he always imagined Genie as being Jewish. This could be why Genie sometimes uses Yiddish phrases.
- In Aladdin and the King of Thieves, Genie turned into one of his voice actor's (Robin Williams) characters, Mrs. Doubtfire, when trying to cheer Jasmine up.
- Genie's appearance may have been inspired by a type of Djinn known as the Marid. Traditionally believed to be the most powerful classification of Djinn, the Marida (plural form of Marid) are known also as the "Blue Djinn" for their likewise skin texture.
- There is an homage made to Genie in The Princess and the Frog. As Mama Odie quickly digs through a pile of magical objects during "Dig a Little Deeper", his magic lamp gets tossed to one side. This makes him one of the four Disney characters referenced in the movie, with Magic Carpet, King Triton and Prince Charming being the other three.
- Robin Williams was allowed to improvise much of his performance, which is pretty unusual in animation. His initial recordings included about 52 separate characters, which Eric Goldberg then took and worked with, picking the funniest bits to animate.
- When Genie is discussing his wish for freedom, he briefly assumes a form resembling that of Genie Jafar and stands before a similar cosmic background to what Jafar was at the climax of the first movie. Whether this is intentional on Disney's part (i.e., foreshadowing Jafar's comeuppance), or merely coincidental is unknown. Ironically, the two images have opposite contexts: Genie assumes the form to lament his great power but lack of freedom, while Jafar assumes the form while reveling in his great power. Furthermore, both scenes have the phrase "phenomenal cosmic power and itty bitty living space" spoken, the first by the (blue) Genie and the second by Aladdin himself.
- Genie is one of several Disney characters to break the fourth wall, others include Donald and Mushu. In the Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories manga, after Genie is free, he lists the places he wants to go. He then says "Heck, I could even go behind the page."
- The reason why Robin Williams refused to reprise his role as Genie in The Return of Jafar is because he had an agreement with Disney to not exaggerate his role, but they broke it as Genie appeared as the biggest part of Aladdin merchandising.
- Even though Genie said that one of the natural limitations of a genie is that they can't bring people back from the dead, it's implied that Genie can bring people back from the dead, but he just simply doesn't like doing it.
- Genie once made a speaking cameo appearance in The Simpsons episode "Mypods and Boomsticks", where he talked to Homer Simpson, which was intended as an inside joke, as Dan Castellaneta also voices Homer.
- Genie's Goofy costume worn at the end of Aladdin is a nod to Robin Williams' costume worn in the 1989 Disney short, Back to Never Land.
- ↑ Aladdin Platinum Edition, Disc 2: Diamond in the Rough: The Making of Aladdin
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