Disney’s latest animated film “Moana,” which is dominating the box office, features a powerful female lead in a story without a love interest. And speaking with Huffington Post, directors Ron Clements and John Musker said that fans could expect even more inclusive and diverse stories in the future, and perhaps even an LGBTQ princess.
“It seems like the possibilities are pretty open at this point,” Ron said, though the directors explained that they, of course, don’t have control over what Disney does.
John did, however, explain how such a movie could be made. “It would be driven by a director or a directorial team that really wanted to push that and if [Disney Animation’s Chief Creative Officer] John Lasseter liked the idea, but I would say we haven’t ever really [had] restrictions placed on what we’ve done.”
Earlier this year fans started a Twitter campaign for Disney to bring their first LGBTQ character to the big screen in the form of a girlfriend for “Frozen” character Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) in the upcoming sequel. It felt like a good fit for the film, especially after the LGBTQ community adopted the movie’s hit single “Let It Go,” which is about accepting and embracing one’s true self.
#GiveElsaAGirlfriend because LGBT kids deserve to know that there is nothing wrong with them?????
— jeffrey marsh (@thejeffreymarsh) May 1, 2016
— Annie Claus ?? (@nerdygaylaura) May 1, 2016
The hashtag “#GiveElsaAGirlfriend” trended, with thousands of posts, and though Disney did not comment on the campaign, Idina did share her thoughts. “I think it’s great. Disney’s just gotta contend with that. I’ll let them figure that out. No matter what, [playing Elsa] changed my life,” she told ET Canada.
Meanwhile, it seems John’s assertions of their directorial freedom are correct, as fans will remember demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) poking a bit of fun at Disney princesses in “Moana,” by teasing the adventurer, “If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.”
Of course, Moana (voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) is quite unlike her Disney princess counterparts. First of all, she is not a princess, but the daughter of her island’s chief. And her story does not revolve around the mission to find love, so much as the journey to find herself and how to save her island and its inhabitants.
John also commented on the more realistic body image created for Moana, saying they “made her legs fuller and her hips fuller to make her capable of these action stunts that we wanted to do, where she can dive off cliffs and those sort of things.”
This is a big step forward for Disney, who was criticized back in 2014 after artist Meridith Viguet made headlines for her “Disney girls tutorial,” showing how to draw iconic characters such as Jasmine and Megara. Her tutorial noted that Disney women have “long, slender necks, ‘demure’ shoulders, ‘soft but defined’ waists, and no hips.”
Highlighting Megara from Disney’s “Hercules,” she pointed out, “her curves don’t come from having really round hips, but from connecting the top of her legs to a slim waist.”
John and Ron also talked about the desire to not make “Moana” a love story. The company tread similar territory with 2012 Pixar film “Brave,” with Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) turning away suitors to focus on her future and that of her kingdom.
However, “Moana” goes a step further, making Moana’s journey of self discovery a priority from the start. “There was never a romance in that story. It was a ‘True Grit’ thing of this young girl on a quest, and the balance of nature and the fate of her world is at stake,” said Ron. John added that the movie was “pushing into new territory.”
And the feminist, body positive character has certainly been well-received by the public, with Deadline reporting that it continues to lead at the box office, bringing in $28.4 million this weekend. Its success has sent Disney to a new industry domestic record of $2.49 billion.
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