Most of us relate animation films to Disney princesses. But they are fast evolving. They are no longer damsels in distress. They fight for themselves & the men are just facilitators to their journey. Timeless tales like Rapunzel are being re-imagined to move from a girl waiting to be rescued from the tower to the girl in Tangled who can tie-up Prince Charming & threaten to hit him on the head with a frying pan. Female characters are increasingly emerging as strong, courageous individuals. We look at five of our favourite animated female characters that broke the stereotypes of femininity.
1. Merida (Brave)
Source: Disney Pixar
Merida was a surprise for one and all. Although Disney had shown shades of independence in Tangled, it was with Brave that Pixar launched its first princess only story. Merida does not need a man to protect her. She is equally capable of shooting arrows & making her decisions. And when required, she will go to any length to make things right without a man by her side. Merida, for the first time, gave girls around the world a role model who did not play by the rules.
2. Elsa & Anna (Frozen)
Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios
So we’re cheating a little. But we can’t choose just one of them. Following the success of Brave, Pixar gave us two more girls to look up to – Elsa & Anna. Elsa is the epitome of the new-age princess. She has powers that can cause great damage but she is also the only one who can control her powers. She dares to leave the comforts of her palace for icy wilderness to live life on her own terms. Anna is no less. She goes on a wild goose chase all alone to find her sister. She does not need saving and protecting. The sisters redefined girl power.
3. Fa Mulan (Mulan)
Fa Mulan is a revolutionary character in terms of the movie’s background & storyline. At a time when we were mostly seeing Sleeping Beauty & Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs, Mulan was a breath of fresh air. Traditionally, Chinese women were expected to only clean dishes and wash clothes. But Fa Mulan rises above such menial chores, joins the Chinese army, a role reserved for Chinese men, and goes on to save an entire country from oppression. Although the story was brought to screen by Disney, the credit for the original character & storyline goes to the Chinese legends of Hua Mulan that was first described in the Ballad of Mulan.
4. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Source: Ryan Porter
She’s bad, but she’s very, very good at it. Ursula may be the bad one in The Little Mermaid. But you cannot deny that she is one of the most stylish animated characters ever. She’s independent, tough, practical, and speaks the truth. For all her conniving & evil ways, there’s something refreshingly honest about Ursula’s take on the world. The sea witch does utter some unmistakable truths such as one should not underestimate the importance of body language, and life is full of tough choices. She might lose in the end, but she goes out with a bang.
5. Nala (The Lion Ling)
Nala is one of the few balanced female characters in animation. True, she’s not the protagonist. But her presence becomes a turning point for Simba. While she is strong enough to beat up Simba, she displays a non-submissive feminine affection for her childhood friend. She stands up to Scar, and encourages Simba to defend his right to the throne. She is a loyal companion and a wise minister, rolled into one.
Who’s your favourite female animated character? Tell us in the comments below.