In a little over a decade, Disney has released a dozen films with female protagonists that are nothing like their good old princesses from back in the day. I suppose as a Zillennial who is still a child at heart, I’ve had the chance to enjoy both Disney’s iconic classics as well as whatever you want to call the stuff that came out post-2010. While earlier there was always a charming prince to save the day, today’s Disney female leads are all about saving the day themselves. I do love a girlboss character who knows exactly how to navigate the world around her and put evil villains in their place, but I’d say it’s wishful thinking if you’re looking for something like that in today’s Disney. For those who enjoyed Wish, and specifically Asha’s dorky naivety, then this list might just be what you’re looking for.
Surely, this is the best Disney movie of the decade, and before you bring up the argument that Frozen is better, let me stop you there. Who would’ve thought a thieving homeless guy would become everyone’s favorite Disney prince, huh? More than anything, it’s the music in Tangled that truly sticks the landing, something Wish wishes it could’ve done. Many would say that Rapunzel is the formula for Disney’s new female characters—the awkward teen who somehow happens to have all the luck in the world (ah, a true dream scenario). Rapunzel is fierce and naive at the same time. She’s tremendously brave, but self-doubt is her middle name, of course, (can she be more relatable?) thanks to her wonderful mother. There’s nothing new to this tale, yet somehow, every time you watch it, you find another thing to love about it. If nothing else, there is a chance you’ll learn to defend yourself with a frying pan.
Okay, Turning Red is actually one of the better films to have come out in recent years, and this is cheating because it’s technically a Pixar film, only distributed by Disney, but maybe just stick with me here? This film is fantastic because it’s so perfectly a product of its time. As a fan of pop music, specifically the kind that may have inspired this film, I will not deny the sheer joy of watching the girls react to 4 Town. This film is also deeply rooted in all things Asian-American and manages to do so in an almost stereotypical manner, just scraping the surface. As my mind goes “I’m never not by your side” as I type this, I urge you to see this movie for female friendships, generational mommy issues, and most importantly, an adorable red panda. This movie is a ride! And it will make you laugh, cry, and scream your lungs out.
Don’t worry, I won’t leave Tangled’s little sister behind. One of Disney’s most successful films ever, there’s no denying that Frozen is a great film. It does have some fantastic songs and true love between sisters. Of course, it’s a super hit. It’s Anna who is most like Asha, in the way that she doesn’t know how to handle herself in a crowd or deal with social anxiety, but at the same time, Elsa is the mesmerizing older sister that Anna has been looking forward to meeting all her life—an interesting parallel to King Magnifico, I suppose. Elsa and Anna’s story never gets old, and neither does the song Let It Go. So, sing your heart out, laugh with Olaf, and enjoy this one with your siblings.
A true family film, Encanto tells the story of yet another awkward girl who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. Unfortunately, not one song from Wish is memorable; however, the second I hear the word Encanto, I’m singing We Don’t Talk About Bruno. While Encanto is not without its flaws and could’ve been much more magical, it’s the little quirks in each family member that really make this film enjoyable. The family drama is deep, and the magic is whimsical. At least everyone has something special about them here. In both Wish and Encanto, there’s a huge cast, but the family in Encanto has a much bigger role than that of Asha’s friends in Wish, something I wish was explored further.
The film with annoying talking animals is something you should be watching. Wish does make a reference to the lovely officer Judy, and for good reason. Zootopia has all the qualities of the archetypical animated film that every modern Disney film is dying to be— deep morals with perfect entertainment. Another one of those that people of all ages can enjoy is truly what Disney hopes to do with all its films (and has been failing lately). At least give it a chance for that one unforgettable sloth scene, or maybe for Nick Wilde.
Moana really has it all when it comes to being a Disney princess. At some point, I do have to ask myself if she’s Rapunzel on steroids, but there’s a lot of difference in their end goals, so there’s that. It’s truly a magical film with some great animation and very beautiful visuals. In another world, Moana and Asha may have to “spill some tea” with each other while discussing their bigger problems. If you’re looking for motivation to do some girlbossing, then this is a great place to start. Mother Nature can teach us all a bunch of things.
Which of these is your favorite, and what did you think of Wish? Let us know in the comments.