Melissa McCarthy gags fans with villainous Ursula cackle in The Little Mermaid trailer

Melissa McCarthy's Ursula stole the show in The Little Mermaid's newest trailer (Getty/Disney)

The new teaser trailer for Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid 2023 features an extended look at Halle Bailey’s Ariel – but a glimpse of a tentacle and Ursula’s (Melissa McCarthy) cackle has stolen the show.

Along with the titular mermaid flitting between shipwrecks and coral reefs, the trailer features Bailey’s rendition of “Part of Your World,” a look at a pufferfish – though it’s unclear if this is meant to be Flounder – and a glimpse of Ariel’s iconic smooch with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King).

The most talked about moment, though, arrives after the trailer’s title card fades to black, and we hear a devious cackle, accompanied by purple skin, arched eyebrows, black eyeshadow and a deadly looking tentacle, all of which belong to beloved Little Mermaid villain, Ursula the Sea Witch.

The character of Ursula, which will be played by Melissa McCarthy in The Little Mermaid 2023, is widely known to have been inspired by legendary drag artist Divine, best known for their appearances in several Jon Waters films.

The drag queen’s harshly arched eyebrows are the most obvious feature of Ursula’s that have made the Disney cut, though a sinister cackle is also a defining feature of Divine’s outings in films like Pink Flamingo.

Divine the drag queen in Pink Flamingos (1972)

Fans have been quick to praise the casting, with some even pointing to an interview in which Melissa McCarthy dressed up as Divine.

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“I have a feeling Melissa McCarthy is going to SLAY Ursula,” one wrote.

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The Little Mermaid reboot of the 1989 animated hit is directed by Rob Marshall, with a screenplay by Jane Goldman and David Magee. Javier Bardem also stars as Ariel’s father, King Triton, and Ariel’s friendly trio of aquatic critters Scuttle, Flounder and Sebastian will be voiced by Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay and Daveed Diggs respectively – though Scuttle the seagull has been updated to a female diving bird so as to feature in underwater scenes.

In The Little Mermaid 2023, McCarthy’s Ursula will be accompanied by Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley as India, another mermaid, and musical theatre heavyweight Lin-Manuel Miranda will have a cameo as Le Chef Louis.

The film has been the subject of criticism from those upset with the choice to cast a Black actress in an (entirely fictional) role.

Speaking to Varietythe actress – best known as one half of the duo Chloe x Halle – spoke of the significance of her casting.

“I want the little girl in me and the little girls just like me who are watching to know that they’re special, and that they should be a princess in every single way,” Bailey said.

“There’s no reason that they shouldn’t be. That reassurance was something that I needed.”

The Little Mermaid releases in theatres on 26 May 2023.