According to Maui in Moana, “you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick; you’re a princess.” The argument around a generic stereotype depicting Disney princesses has become so pervasive, it has even made its way in a few of the films. Disney enthusiasts, who have followed and studied the 80-year legacy of Disney Princess films, have watched it transform from frivolous flights of fancy only suitable for young girls, to progressive representations of heroines who are confident, curious, and courageous. The evolution of these films has charted a growth in female heroes.
The progression of these royals is broken into three waves, “Classic”, “Renaissance” and “Modern”. Although Disney has attempted to participate in the debate by creating criteria, including having royal lineage (marriage counts), being the primary character in their movie, and being human, they have even deviated from these ground rules. In the end, what truly creates a franchised Disney Princess is if the character has a crowing ceremony at the park. The most recent was Merida in 2013, becoming the 11th official Disney princess.
The Classic Era
The earliest Disney princesses, Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora, could only be described as products of their time. The first feature-length film for the company, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, depicted a young girl (she’s 13 years old in the movie) pining for a prince and turning into a housekeeper for seven grown men (even if they were dwarfs). When matching the story to the time it was created, it predated woman joining the workforce during World War II. Many also emphasized how the character was not fleshed-out because the filmmakers were focusing on the enormous feat of developing a feature-length film.
The next two to arrive on the scene, Cinderella and Aurora, enhanced the convention of damsel in distress. Sleeping Beauty, which is the epitome of this narrative, features Aurora with only 18 lines of dialogue in an hour long movie. In Cinderella, audiences are introduced to a woman who is only able to escape an awful family if she is wed. All three women, products of their circumstance, are not the champions of their own story, do not aid in the defeat of their villain, and continue a female narrative surrounding innocent and helplessness.
The Renaissance Era
After more than 20 years without a princess film, the company began to look to its roots and a new generation of princess was introduced: Ariel, Belle, and Pocahontas. The Little Mermaid provided audiences with a female protagonist who was the first in the legacy to have her own personal independence. She is curious, defiant, and willful, all strengths that then became her downfall. Ariel spends a majority of her movie unable to speak, which causes her to rely on appearance to achieve her goals. As usual, the villain is defeated by a prince.
The next two films, Beauty and the Beast and Pocahontas, make huge strides both in creating independence of their heroines. Belle and Pocahontas embodied independent thinkers who fought against traditional expectations. Although her name means beauty, Belle fought against gender norms by having a thirst for reading, and dreaming about adventure. Despite the many historical inaccuracies, Pocahontas fought against the cultural norm of arranged marriage. Both, however, cannot escape the love-story arc that continues to plague the movies.
The Modern Era
As the franchise begins to grow, the new themes adapted into films include princess actively attempt to rescue a meaningful character or redeem the villain, increasing the plot for both protagonists and antagonist. Tiana, in Princess and the Frog, attempts to save the prince, Naveen from an eternity as an amphibian. The 3D animated Tangled found a Rapunzel choosing to sacrifice her own freedom to save Flynn. Then as the scene escalates, the villain, Mother Gothel, is pushed out a window and Repunzel attempts to save her. This marks the first time a Disney Princess has tried to rescue a villain.
As the Modern Age Disney Princess stories develop, writers have started to overthrow the usual romance. Frozen, which focuses on the bond between sisters, even pokes fun at the love-at-first-sight theme in prior movies, with Hans declaring, “You can’t just marry a man you just met!” This film’s climax even differs from its predecessors; instead of a battle scene with a baddy, Anna sacrifices herself to save her sister and the kingdom. Lastly, there is the Pixar Disney movie, Brave, which features no love interest. Although the plot focuses on Merida defying her family to avoid taking a husband, she is not partnered in the end of the movie.
The culmination of “what is a princess” has started with frilly dresses and has transformed to courage and spirit in Moana. The story focuses on a defiant young girl on a mission to save her people. With the ability to see past the façade of fear around her, she helps liberate Te Fiti, whom transformed from a monstrous volcano to an Earth goddess. This movie has no romantic subplot, no prince that saves the day, and challenges the heroine to think critically, act resourcefully, all with compromise and understanding. It appears that the future of the Princess franchise is teaching the next generation that they don’t need to “wait for their prince to come”, but instead can to face their dragons themselves with real heart and compassion.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm