One Pixar film changed the Disney princess archetype

One Pixar film forever transformed the Disney Princess archetype. The classic Disney princess stereotype, crafted over decades, was disrupted by an unlikely heroine from an underrated Pixar movie in the early 2010s. While Pixar had already established itself as a prominent force in animation, Disney was expanding its famed “Disney Princess” brand, consisting of the company’s iconic heroines.

Brave, a Pixar creation, introduced Princess Merida and shattered the traditional Disney princess mold. Merida, a fiercely independent, headstrong, and gender norm-challenging character, defied the passive, delicate damsels-in-distress archetype associated with Disney princesses for generations. Her fiery red hair symbolized her fiery personality, and her narrative focused on themes of freedom, independence, and the complex mother-daughter relationship. This bold departure from the usual Disney princess formula resonated with audiences.

Merida’s impact went beyond her own story. It influenced Pixar and Disney’s subsequent works significantly. Pixar, known for male-centric films, recognized the value of female-centered stories. Movies like Inside Out and Turning Red featured multi-dimensional, diverse female characters, illustrating the enduring impact of Merida’s character.

Moreover, the success of Brave had a lasting effect on the “Disney Princess” brand. As societal norms evolved, Disney adjusted its portrayal of princesses, partially driven by Merida’s narrative. Today’s Disney princesses, seen in films like Frozen, Moana, and Raya & The Last Dragon, no longer revolve solely around romantic love. Instead, they emphasize self-love, familial bonds, and friendship. Merida’s inclusion in the Disney princess lineup paved the way for these characters to break free from traditional fairy tale constraints.

In essence, Pixar’s Brave marked a significant shift in Disney’s approach to its beloved princesses, aligning them more closely with contemporary societal values, as they explored the multifaceted dimensions of love beyond the traditional fairy tale romance.

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