Melissa McCarthy Ursula
photo: Disney/Getty Images

Animated movies can leave quite a bit to the imagination, especially when it comes time to translate them into live-action films. So when Variety reported that Melissa McCarthy might be playing popular villain Ursula in the new adaptation of The Little MermaidTwitter of course had opinions. But it wasn't McCarthy's acting skills or even her size that drew critics. In fact, it was her race. 

In a heated debate that's lasted all weekend long, fans of the film posed the question: Is Ursula really based on a black woman? Some people think so, but others feel that couldn't be further from the truth. 

It all started with one Twitter user who declared that Ursula should be cast as a plus-size black woman. 

"Ursula is black. and since y’all need help casting her i’ve decided to be nice and help y’all out by giving you a list of plus size black women who can play her. Lizzo, Amber Riley, Loni Love, Scarlett Johansson, Queen Latifah, Monique, Alex Newell. You’re welcome Hollywood," she tweeted in response to McCarthy's casting. 

But not everyone agreed. 

In fact, those who have seen the movie were quick to note that the character eventually morphs into a white woman, making that logic impossible.

"What made y’all think Ursula is black when she transforms into a WHITE WOMAN?!" someone asked. 

In reality, the character was based on a white drag queen, Divine. 

"I’m confused... what makes Ursula black? She was based of Divine, who is white She was voiced by a white woman When she takes human form she’s white," yet another well-versed Little Mermaid fan noted. "She was originally meant to be King Tryton’s sister, and [he's] white." 

Others think the answer is simple: She's purple. 

"I see a ton of people debating on if Ursula is white or black, and I have a definitive answer:
You're all color blind, she is quite clearly purple - with some grayish or tealish tint, depending on the ambient light," another Twitter user who got in on the debate declared. 

Naturally, the campaign to cast Lizzo as the villain came back in full force, too.

Would Lizzo be good as Ursula? Well, a lot of people seem to think so, as a nationwide call for Disney to hit up the singer has been happening since 2018.

"Ursula is a black woman or a drag queen and that’s the facts. Justice for Lizzo!" a fan of the pop star said. 

And another great point was brought to light. 

Simply because Ursula is purple, outspoken, and a villain, why are those characteristics so quickly associated with black women?

"I just learned that Divine was the inspiration for Ursula. It’s all just a quick Google search away, ya’ll. Also, what about Ursula’s hair or facial features are Black? She’s supposed to be Black because she’s purple and angry?" someone asked.

But the least Disney could do is at least include a queer actor in the live-action rendition.

"The real issue behind the Ursula casting. Her and most other villain are all queer coded and Disney isn’t willing to put visibly queer characters on screen. Let alone Trans/Gender Non Conforming Black actors," another tweeted. "But y’all not ready for that talk."

Whether or not the casting of a straight, white woman in this role is justifiable, for now it looks like we can expect McCarthy to take over the big screen in the upcoming months.