I don’t mean to come off as aggressive, but truth be told, I’m about to utterly destroy this interview with Dove Cameron. I am not doing this because I don’t like her, I’m just infuriated by this theory. I am a reader, and I read the prequel books before watching the movies. This stuff doesn’t align with the books, and I’m peeved about it. All my fellow Divergent and PJO fans know that when a movie doesn’t follow the books, WE. GET. MAD!
Let’s start with the claim that Uma and Mal’s rivalry is partially based around Harry. Here is where that actually comes from. Uma and Mal were partners-in-petty-crime when they were little kids, kinda like bffs. One day, the two wanted to prank Cruella De Vil by dumping sea sludge on her. However, the sludge spilled and Mal slipped off the dock. Uma initially laughs at the accident, but she becomes panicked as she desperately searches for her friend, who also can’t swim. Mal never actually fell off the pier. She appears behind Uma and dumps a bucket of smelly shrimp on her head. The smell of shrimp never went away, and Mal nicknamed her Shrimpy. Since then, the two were always in competition. (“from the sandbox to the doomball court”) Their 13th bday parties were even on the same day. “Mal always came out on top.” Uma’s fury intensifies when Mal is selected to go to Auradon and not her. Uma is envious of Mal because she always beat Uma, and Uma just wants to win. Their bad blood is based on a gradual one-sided battle and years of jealousy. Basing it on a guy belittles Uma’s motives and makes her look petty. She’s not; she has millions of reasons to hate Mal, and none of them are Harry.
Now let’s talk about Evie. Actually, let’s talk about their whole gang’s origins. It started as Mal and Jay, the worst kids of Dragon Hall and partners-in-crime. Carlos was a runty nerd in school, and Evie was the new girl. She was castleschooled (homeschooled) her whole life because when she and Evil Queen were banished when they she was a kid. Why? Because her birthday party was the same day as Mal’s, and everyone went to Evie’s. Mal was upset, so Maleficent banished the Evil Queen and her daughter to a lonely castle. Bottom line, Mal started out hating Evie. When Evie goes to Dragon Hall, her first friend is Carlos, and neither are too keen on being evil. One day, Maleficent asks Mal to retrieve her dragon eye scepter from the Isle of the Doomed, and Mal hatches a scheme to make Evie grab it and fall into a death-like sleep. Thus, the rotten four is born. Mal brings Jay and invites Evie who brings Carlos. However, Mal develops as a person over the journey and saves Evie from death by grabbing the scepter herself (She only sleeps for a few minutes because she’s related to Maleficent). Bottom line is that Evie was not some replacement for a kicked out gang member. Uma was never apart of Mal’s gang because it started long after Uma and Mal’s rivalry began, and Evie was one of the original members of the gang anyway. Suggesting otherwise puts majority of Mal’s character development to waste and disregards her relationship with Evie. Also, Uma was never in her gang, but she constantly tried to join. Mal claimed she wasn’t big or bad enough, but she was actually threatened by the presence of leader who might just be as evil as her. Thus, the rivalry intensifies. Again, Uma has plenty of reasons to hate Mal.
The part saying Harry and Mal were each other’s first loves makes next to no sense. The evidence for this lies more in the first movie. First, Evie says Mal never had a boyfriend. Next, Mal says that there isn’t really dating on the Isle, just gang activity. Finally, she tells Ben that she doesn’t know what love is. Saying that Harry was Mal’s first love makes illegitimate Ben’s efforts to help Mal learn how to love. It’s Mal’s discovery of love that enables her to develop as a character and defeat her mother. Dating Ben was supposed to be what transformed Mal, and implying that she has loved another before makes her development in the first movie almost meaningless.
Now for the part about Harry getting dumped and joining Uma’s gang. Uma doesn’t get a crew until after the events of the first movie because she concludes that she needs one to beat Mal’s gang. Uma is described as Harry’s longest friend on the Isle, meaning he knew her before he knew Mal. And yes, THEY ACTUALLY SAID FREIND!! When they were young, Uma started ordering him around, and he let her(Gil was there too, but he drifted away and came back when he found out they needed a crew). When Uma says she wants a crew and a ship, she makes a bet with Harry. The winner is captain and the loser is first mate. Ya’ll can figure out who won. Anyway, Harry was always friends with Uma, and he joins Uma’s crew because he wants to, not because of a silly rivalry between former gang mates and a broken heart. There is no mention of a distaste for Mal on his part. In fact, when Uma is hell-bent on getting a crew so she can beat Mal, he wants her to lighten up and have fun with him by causing mischief or something. He doesn’t care about the kids in Bore-don; he just cares that Uma’s upset. The idea that Harry joins Uma’s crew in spite of Mal downplays Harry and Uma’s friendship.
In glorious conclusion, this theory makes a mockery out of the books written to support the movies. Why bother having Melissa De La Cruz write them if you’re not going to agree with the story line? I feel like the actors and directors should read these books so they understand their characters’ motivation. I mean, didn’t Dove Cameron do a promotional video for Rise of the Isle of the Lost? I thought she read it!
I’m not doing this in spite of Dove’s relationship with Thomas. Their personal life is none of our concern, and as a fandom we need to respect that. However, her story does harm to the canon in the following ways: it bases Uma and Mal’s years of tension on a guy and petty gang drama, it turns the beginnings of Evie and Mal’s relationship into a mere replacing of someone else, it turns Ben’s role as Mal’s reason to be good into a lack luster second rate, and it makes Uma and Harry’s relationship based purely on mutual hatred for Mal.
Their backstory is nice, but I ask that they keep their personal life and professional life separate. I really liked the books, but this makes them pointless. If they’re going to force this onto us, don’t expect me to believe a word of it. It lacks evidence from the written text, puts De La Cruz’s work to waste, and shoots down loads of character/relationship development.
Thank you for your consideration.