Final Thoughts (for now): Big Hero 6 The Series

Warning: Spoilers. 

Image result for big hero 6 the series

Thanks to the UK getting the series release early, I have managed to see the first five episodes of Big Hero 6: The Series. What did I think?

Well first off, my initial guess of the series probably being filler has been pretty much correct. A lot of it is just random, lighthearted adventures of our beloved heroes. The only episode that seems to actually add anything to the movie’s lore is Fred’s Bro-Tillion, which gives us more of Fred’s family.

I will admit, Fred’s Bro-Tillion and another episode, Food Fight, which is a Cass-centric episode, were actually very enjoyable and fun. After Issue 188 (the one that introduced the new, unappealing character of Karmi) left a bad taste in my mouth and Big Roommates (that had Honey move in with Gogo) ended up being mostly boring, those episodes did actually make me smile and keep me invested. Food Fight was a fun episode that gave us more of Cass, her interests outside of Hiro and the cafe, and a legitimately cool villain (and Gordon Fucking Ramsay makes a cameo) and Fred’s Bro-Tillion had a lot of great jokes and Stan Lee is awesome. Those episodes were genuinely good (not great, but good and fun). It does give me some hope that the show might not be a total garbage fire. But the show still pales in comparison to what it could have been.

I’m starting to suspect that budget is a huge issue with the show. The animation is just so stiff and clunky and the style has been polarizing for a lot of people. I know I can’t expect movie quality animation, but there are other Disney shows that have fluid, beautiful animation. Just compare it to the Tangled series and there’s a huge difference. The writing is also hugely hit or miss. I can’t say it’s because Disney had no faith in the project since they’ve already renewed it for a second season, but I have a feeling there’s a low morale among the crew. I mean if you ask people if they want a proper BH6 sequel or a lower budget cartoon follow up made for kids, they’ll probably go for the sequel.

While it’s still a little too early to tell, it doesn’t look like the characters are getting the development everyone was asking for. Wasabi in particular is kind of getting the short end of the stick, behaving more cowardly and anal than he was in the movie. Baymax is mostly used for comic relief and getting his mechanisms messed with than being the heart and soul of the team he actually is. The only character who seems to be actually getting anything consistently is Fred. In fact the show seems to focus more on Hiro’s relationship with Fred than anyone else. At least Honey and Gogo are badass female characters are usual.

A lot of the villains are more like comic relief than actual threats. I know there’s supposed to be a Big Bad that’s actually intimidating, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have villains with some credibility. I also find if baffling there are a few instances where our heroes just…let the villains get away. Like you’re not even going to try to stop them? That kind of cements the fact that the villains aren’t a real threat. If you put any of them in the same room as Yokai he’d kick their asses.

But I think the major problem with the show–as someone else pointed out–is the lack of real HEART. The original movie had everything: exciting action, clever comedy, layered characters, a chilling villain, but, most of all, an emotional core about love, loss, forgiveness and healing. The show, on the other hand, is mostly just comedy. Baymax Returns touched on the heart a little, but didn’t have the same emotional impact as the first movie. The fact that we don’t see Hiro and Baymax interact as much in the series when they were practically inseparable in the first movie says a lot.

So yeah, unless there’s a major twist for the season finale, I don’t think the show is going to be anything really special. The show will probably get better, but it already made it clear it’s mostly just a kid’s comedy rather than a legit continuation of the first movie.

And with that, I think I’ve gotten everything I feel about the series out of the way. Now I can focus on my other interests before the actual sequel eventually comes out.

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This Week In Disney

This has been a bit of a roller coaster of a week for Disney fans. So of course, I might as well reflect on it.

THE BIG HERO 6 SERIES

Series delay

(Source)

Big Hero 6: The Series was originally supposed to be released in the US and Canada in March, but now that is not the case. In fact, the creators have absolutely no idea when it will start airing over here, other than the fact that when it does, there will be a lot of episodes ready to go. I can’t find it on the Twitter feed (but someone had screencapped it before), but apparently there’s a new ‘programming strategy’ in effect that’s delaying all the Disney TV shows.

This is very frustrating and part of the reason why my enthusiasm for the show has dropped. Having to wait SO LONG for new episodes only for them to come out just okay has really soured my feelings for the show. But more than anything, it shows that Big Hero 6 is not going to get the proper continuation it deserves with all the delays and hiatuses. Why do you think so many people would rather have a sequel?

But this is not really a new phenomena. Disney has always been crap with their treatment of TV shows. They tend to air shows at really crappy timeslots; the Tangled Series, which originally aired at a reasonable time on Sunday evenings, was suddenly switched to Saturday at 8am, when most people (kids and adults) would rather sleep in. The second season for Gravity Falls struggled to get off the ground, and the rarely give their shows, even the really popular ones, a proper DVD release (it took TEN YEARS for the second half of the second season of Gargoyles to come out on DVD). And of course so many of their other shows are still on hiatus (just look at the Ducktales Reboot).

What makes this weird is that apparently the show is airing early in Europe. Both the UK and Continental Europe are getting a LOT of hype for the show, with early access to shorts and even some of the episodes! I’m not sure if they’re run by different people there, or if Disney really wants to get the European market.

I’m not sure why the treatment of TV shows is so shoddy. If I had to guess, it might be because Disney doesn’t think the shows are as profitable or will have lasting value like their movies do. It’s hard to tell, but at some point, if they want to continue making shows and letting people watch them, they just need to start streaming them instead. They’re planning on launching a streaming network to rival Netflix in 2019, so they better use it to showcase ALL of their shows. It’s the least they could do. At any rate, the series isn’t really going to do the first BH6 movie justice at this point. Hopefully there will be some really good episodes to make up for the wait times.

WRECK IT RALPH 2 TEASER DROPS

FINALLY we get a clip of what to expect from Disney’s next movie and THIS IS SO EXCITING! I was initially worried they’d just post a very brief scene that wouldn’t even make it into the movie, but nope, we actually get to see Ralph and Vanellope traverse the world of the Internet!

So far, so good. The characters are in character, the animation is PHENOMENAL, and it even manages to have some dark humor that works (and don’t worry, Rich Moore confirmed that the bunny is okay). I can already tell there’s going to be a lot of social commentary about how we use the Internet along with the jokes (notice how the game the little girl plays has absolutely no educational value). I have faith Rich Moore can pull it off.

My only complaint is that they haven’t shown Yesss yet. I really want to know what she looks like and get an idea of what role she plays in the story.

But still, I’m excited as hell. The wait is going to hurt!

ELSA GETS A GIRLFRIEND (?)

Since Disney cannot let Frozen go (pun intended), there’s going to be a sequel, probably in 2019. Yay?

Well, the latest buzz on the Internet is that Elsa might get a girlfriend!…sort of. According to director Jennifer Lee, she loves the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend momentum and how much Elsa means to LGBTQ audiences, and that she and her crew are very conscientious about it…but won’t confirm or deny anything. All she could say, in the vaguest way possible, that they’ll have to see what happens. (Source).

It would definitely be HUGE if Elsa got a female love interest, but I doubt Disney’s actually going to pull it off. They seem to be making progress with LGBTQ characters in television, but in movies, not so much. The hyped up Gay Lefou in the Beauty and the Beast remake is never openly said to be gay and dances with a man for about two seconds. I don’t know if Disney’s going to risk losing audiences for their biggest cashcow by explicitly giving Elsa a love interest or even saying that she’s lesbian or bisexual. If they DO I’ll be pleasantly surprised and give Frozen another chance, but, again, I have doubts. They’re more likely to just leave her single. I just hope they don’t give her a male love interest because that will add insult to injury. But we’ll see.

And finally, on February 27, Coco Day was celebrated at the Los Angeles City Hall! I don’t have much to say about it, other than holy shit this is probably the most important movie Disney and Pixar have made in a long time. Start HERE, and then look up more videos!

This has been a really awesome week for fandom in general (Overwatch announced a new hero!) but this is going to keep Disney fans satisfied for awhile. I’m definitely looking forward to where the company will go for 2018.

Why I’m Excited for Wreck-It Ralph 2, Less Excited for Big Hero 6: The Series

I love to analyze media. I love to challenge how people see things. I look to look at things from a different point of view. And I have no problems not being completely satisfied with everything that comes out and wanting more. So if I come across as hypercritical, it’s not because I’m constantly looking for something to hate. It’s because I believe everything should have high standards and be quality entertainment. It’s important to think critically about what you love and consume.

So with that in mind, because of how GOOD Big Hero 6 was, I set my expectations very high for the upcoming series and unfortunately, it did not meet them. I was able to see both Baymax Returns and an episode released for UK audiences (that of course the Internet managed to spread around the world) and I just didn’t like them.

Being as critical as I am, I couldn’t help but point out how ridiculous some of the plot elements were (so there are 80’s dancers in San Fransokyo who can control electricity like it’s nothing?) and how the overall tone and themes made it clear that it was meant more for kids. I’m not necessarily saying that’s bad, of course kids should have a show like this, but it proves to me I’m no longer the target audience and that the show is more of a fun, separate thing from the movie. (Remember, the creators made the show with the deliberate intention of generating hype for a sequel, which means that the show itself is not the actual sequel.)

I know the animation gets dragged a lot but I don’t really mind it too much (though there are times when it gets really stiff). What baffles me the most is that the design team took inspiration from 101 Dalmatians for the style. What the hell does that movie have to do with Big Hero 6? It’s way too angular and pointy for the first movie’s soft, round style.

But for me, the biggest reason why I cannot get into the show is because I HATE all the new characters. HATE.

Professor Granville, the replacement for Professor Callaghan at Hiro’s school, is one of those ‘tough but fair’ teachers that thinks being harsh on students is the best way for them to succeed. As someone who has had to deal with that type of person, I can say, no, we do not succeed when you are a hardass to us. Seeing her in the vicinity of one of my most beloved characters made me really uncomfortable. Fred has an 11 year old rival named Richardson Mole who creeps on Gogo (eww) and has a whole basement where he has games like Whack-a-Fred and video games that involve shooting at or beating up Fred. Again, that made me SUPER uncomfortable to see one of my fave characters like that.

Worst of all, there’s a new character called Karmi who is incredibly rude to Hiro (but is creepily obsessed with his superhero alter ego) that I’m supposed to sympathize because apparently she doesn’t have a support system in place. I don’t mind flawed characters, but when the first thing she does is talk about how Hiro is pathetic for liking Baymax because he’s not alive, I have absolutely no interest seeing her become Hiro’s friend.

See, Big Hero 6 is my ultimate comfort movie and the characters in it bring me so much joy. Seeing them have to deal repeatedly with characters who are bullies honestly hurts to watch. I know that may sound weird but as someone who has been bullied and identifies with these characters, that’s too much for me to handle. So, unfortunately, I cannot watch the show while it airs. I don’t even understand WHY all the new recurring characters need to be jerks when they’re already dealing with supervillains!

So yeah, it really sucks, but I cannot get excited for the show as much as I wanted to. Yet despite my feeling of dread and concern, I’m still excited as hell for Wreck-It Ralph 2. Why is that?

Well, I think I’m more confident in Wreck-It Ralph 2 because it’s a legit sequel made by the same production company (so we know it will be for everyone, not just kids) and made by the same people. Rich Moore wanted to make a sequel since pretty much when the first movie came out, so you know that he’ll be telling the story he wants to tell instead of handing it to totally new people. So I’m more comfortable knowing who is making the sequel.

And while I don’t like the new characters for the BH6 series I’m actually excited for a new character in the WIR sequel, Yesss. We don’t know much about her but from what I’ve heard from people who went to the D23 Expo, she’s probably Ralph’s love interest and not an absolute jerk.

See, having all new characters in the BH6 series seems a little superfluous since the first movie already had so many characters. I understand having the new teacher, but why do we need a character like Karmi when we need to develop the relationships between each member of the team first? Wreck-It Ralph has more room for a new character, and it would be interesting to see how a character from the Internet gets along with old video game characters.

The idea of Yesss being Ralph’s love interest is actually appropriate. Ralph has been really lonely for the thirty years of his existence and has been told that he’s ugly and worthless and bad. So, having a love interest that finds him desirable is kind of important. It would also be a realistic way to add an interesting conflict to the story: what happens when Ralph realizes he finds himself being romantically involved with someone, and how will Vanellope take it?

Am I still nervous for the sequel? Of course I am. (I’m a little worried that the crossover material will draw attention away from the main characters.) But I’m more comfortable because I know it’s the same people with the same standards of storytelling rather than completely new people having to rework something for children’s television.

So far it looks like I’m not the only person who is ambivalent towards the BH6 series. And that’s okay. You don’t have to like EVERYTHING about the show. You can just be okay with it. You can like it without having to justify it. You can dislike it! You can absolutely want more!

And it’s okay to not like the new characters, especially Karmi. I’ve seen people on social media gushing over how she’s a precious bean and must be protected (which strikes me as completely artificial given how aggressive she is to Hiro) and that you’re sexist if you dislike her. I scoff at that notion. While more representation for minority groups is important, you don’t have to like EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, especially if they’re assholes or underdeveloped. You can demand better. You can demand more female characters that have more development and are kinder while being assertive and not be a misogynist.

Furthermore, you don’t have to like every follow up product to something you love. You can admit when something is flawed or just okay. You can dislike some aspects of it, or not like it at all. You can demand better stories, better characters, and better representation.

Never settle for crap when you can have gold.

 

 

The Success of Baymax Returns: What This Means

According to Broadway World, Baymax Returns, the pilot for the upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, was a huge hit, garnering 2.2 million views when it first premiered on television and at least 12,800+ people watched it on the DisneyNOW App. It was also the #1 show debut for DisneyXD in ratings.

So what can we infer from this?

Well, it definitely shows that the love for Big Hero 6 is still alive and well. The show will definitely keep the hype going for how long it takes for a sequel. However, it also shows that the primary audience is going to be children rather than adult fans.

To be honest, that was pretty much the impression I got watching the pilot. Kids seem to love it (especially boys) but it got mixed reviews from older fans; I myself didn’t really like it because the plot is just absolutely ludicrous and it messed up the epilogue from the first movie. So this brings me to my biggest concern: is this show going to be canon, or just filler?

My guess is…probably filler. Not only are kids the primary audience, but they seem to be the only people who have actually heard about the show (beyond hardcore fans). When I meet people in real life who loved the movie and want a sequel, they act surprised when I tell them there’s going to be a series. There’s also the fact that a lot of shows based on Disney animated hits are typically ignored by supplementary and promotional material (I think I read somewhere that, if you ask a Face Character at the parks about anything related to a direct to video sequel or series, they’ll tell you it was just a dream). The fact that there’s zero continuity between the end of the first movie and the pilot kind of gives away that what I’m watching is probably not meant to be taken as gospel. I guess it will depend on whether the sequel takes place immediately after the first movie (and therefore renders the series moot) or skips ahead a few years to a more grown up Hiro (and therefore you can choose to consider the series canon or not).

At the end of the day, I think the series is basically meant to help appease fans and keep up hype for a sequel more than anything. Sort of similar to Tangled: The Series gives the fans something and continues the success of the first movie (even if in this case there very likely won’t be a sequel). And to be honest, that’s not a bad idea. It acknowledges that the movie is successful and helps create a bigger demand for it without being forceful. Whereas Frozen is being forced down everyone’s throats by playing two shorts before movies (one of them being a whopping 21 minutes long) and filling every corner of stores with it in order to remind people to see the sequel. Kind of proves Frozen was a fad, but Big Hero 6 will have a lasting impact.

Will I see the series? I’ll probably tune in for the first few episodes and see how I like it. Right now I’m mostly worried about the new Professor character giving Hiro too hard a time (and there’s one character who’s supposed to be an ‘antagonist rival’ to Hiro that does not sound appealing at all). But we’ll see. The main thing for me is that the first movie was popular and beloved enough to not be swept away, and that’s what matters most.

Understanding My Fave (and Least Fave) Characters

Being as huge an animation fan as I am, I’m starting to realize that the more I like the characters, the more I’m likely to love their respective media. Consequently, if I absolutely despise the main character or too many characters, I’m not going to like their series one bit.

I love Teen Titans and Avatar: The Last Airbender because of how fleshed-out and likable all the main characters are. I like The Legend of Korra because even though I have some problems with the show, I do really love Asami and Korra. I don’t have the most comprehensive knowledge of Overwatch but I really love the character of Symmetra because she’s a beautiful and powerful autistic woman (and really all the women of Overwatch are beautiful and powerful how can I not love it). Cybersix is an okay show itself but Cybersix herself is amazing. And I have a lot of fave Disney heroines either from nostalgia or from personal empowerment (Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Vanellope, Honey and Gogo, and even Aurora). But I hate Steven Universe now because I really dislike most of the main characters (ESPECIALLY Steven, who’s become a mouthpiece for the writers) and the characters I DID love have been regressing into tropes (Garnet is mostly just Ruby and Sapphire in a trench coat and Peridot is nothing but comic relief).

So when it comes to my absolute faves, Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s probably not a coincidence that Hiro Hamada and Ralph are actually my fave characters of all time.

File:Wreck it Ralph pose transparent.png

Why is that?

Because, as someone who is autistic, has struggled with mental illness, has a limited social network, and is only NOW really starting to figure out my place in the world, I relate to these characters so, so much. Not to mention they’re brilliantly well written too.

Not only is Hiro absolutely adorable, but he’s also a brilliantly well written teen boy character. It would have been very easy to just make him another whiny teenager, but he’s not. At the start of the movie he becomes enthusiastic at the idea of bettering his life, even if he needs some encouragement. When his brother dies he doesn’t become all brooding and angsty, he becomes seriously and realistically depressed. He has trouble letting people in at first, but his world brightens up when he makes close friends and becomes a superhero. He hits a road bump when confronting the villain, but he’s able to let out his grief in a peaceful manner, is comforted, and gets back on the right path. Eventually he’s able to rebuild his closest friend and start his road to a promising future. For me, that kind of parallels my own life: how I was in a horrible mental stage for almost two years before this movie came out, and how I started my path to recovery. Now, for the first time in 22 years, I no longer feel like killing myself, I have a wonderful friend, and I’m determined to get a job as a social service worker. (Have you figured out why this movie is my absolute fave yet?)

And Ralph, man, he’s just such a good hero. He goes through a LOT of character development (going from a lonely but still kind of selfish ‘bad guy’ to a true hero who’s willing to sacrifice himself for the only person who was ever nice to him) and is someone I wouldn’t mind actually being with. Like I know a lot of people find Tadashi Hamada attractive, and while he is, I don’t really know Tadashi well enough. But Ralph? Not only is he big and burly and very cuddly, but you know he’d never leave you behind and would do anything for you, and you’d have a lot of fun with him.

But I think there’s another major reason. Both characters have their flaws. Ralph, being a bad guy, doesn’t always do the right thing or have the best sense of morality (he takes obvious enjoyment out of interrogating Sour Bill for information). Hiro initially wanted to partake in dubious bot fighting and was at one point enraged enough to actually kill a man. But despite their mistakes, they’re fundamentally good people and actively make an effort to change. They TRY to be better people.

The same cannot be said for some of my absolute least fave characters, Anna from Frozen and Joy from Inside Out, movies that I cannot stand.

Joy is just…a bully. I’m sorry, but she is. She is obsessively controlling over Riley’s brain and making sure she only feels HER emotion, nothing else. But she always pushes the blame on Sadness. On their road trip Joy is consistently rude and condescending to her, and even at one point is willing to let Sadness DIE just because “Riley needs to be happy”. It’s only when Joy realizes that Sadness is useful that she goes back to get her, but even then, she never actually apologizes to her or acknowledges that she was wrong. That just constantly made me uncomfortable and made me feel the wrong way.

And Anna…ugh. Anna literally makes everything all about HER. She constantly disrespects her sister’s boundaries, even when she’s trying to ‘help’ her. But does Anna actually love Elsa? Of course not. When Elsa kicks her out of the ice palace Anna doesn’t even acknowledge her sister until she’s literally about to die. I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for Anna and find her sacrifice meaningful but, like, it’s your sister, of course you’re going to want to save her. That doesn’t mean you actually LOVE her. I understand I have a HEAVY bias against Anna because I identified with Elsa and was upset that she wasn’t the main hero, but…yeah I don’t like Anna.

But you can see why I hate their specific type of character (cheerful quirky girl protagonist): they feel like the universe revolves around THEM. Hiro and Ralph have to realize that other people matter, too. They have actual character development and give a damn about others. Anna and Joy are ‘perfect’ and only care at the very last minute.

Anyway, this was slightly more personal than my other posts, but I felt like it was important to share.

Understanding Marvel’s Relationship with Big Hero 6

Recently it was announced that IDW Comics would be publishing new Big Hero 6 comics to tie in with the TV show (x). My first thought was “finally, after three years of nothing, we get spoiled with new BH6 content!”.

But for some people, their first thought was “Wait, wasn’t Big Hero 6 originally a MARVEL comic? Why isn’t MARVEL making new BH6 stuff?”

And that is true. Big Hero 6 first appeared as an obscure comic book series in 1998 created by the team of Man of Action (who you may recognize as the creators of Ben 10). They resurfaced again in a miniseries in 2008 (which the movie takes most of its inspiration from) and once more in a Spider Man crossover comic in 2012. And…that’s about it. They were not very popular or successful.

Why is that?

Well, probably because the comics were fucking terrible.

To help you get an idea of what we’re into, just take a look at the cover page of the 2008 run:

Image result for big hero 6 comic covers

Let’s see, we got the Rising Sun (the symbol of Japanese Imperialism that devastated countless other Asians) emblazoned in the back to show “LOOK HOW JAPANESE WE ARE”, we got not one but TWO hypersexualized female characters, a Godzilla expy, a scary robot (yes that is supposed to be Baymax), and a guy who’s just…Asian. We’re off to a great start!

You know how in the movie Honey Lemon was a sweet, intelligent young woman who had a passion for chemistry, photography, and making friends? Well too bad because in the comic THIS Honey Lemon is nothing but fanservice, constantly contorted into ‘sexy’ poses and obsessed with making herself look white.

But it’s not just sexism, oh no, there’s plenty of RACISM to go along too! Not only is the Rising Sun flag used flippantly and trivially, but Wasabi’s counterpart is a complete Asian stereotype, dressing up as a samurai in modern times, making sushi, and speaking in a heavy accent, and whose full name is fucking Wasabi-no-Ginger. But that’s all fine and dandy compared to a charming villain called Everwraith, who is literally the embodiment of all the Japanese people who died during the bombing of Hiroshima. No, I am not making that up.

On top of all that, the artwork is shit (the only character that doesn’t look half bad is the original Fred) and the story just makes absolutely no sense. I could not get past the first three pages of the first 2008 issue, I literally had no idea what was going on. But for all the people who HAVE read the comic (and don’t have nostalgia filters on), it’s pretty obviously not about Japanese people, but about Japanese caricatures written by people who watched a lot of anime without researching the damn country.

When Don Hall was looking through Marvel material to make into an animated Disney movie, he chose Big Hero 6 because of the characters of Hiro and Baymax, and the bond they shared. Movies naturally change a lot from the source material, but Marvel let him and his team have complete creative control. They kept the spirit of the comic and the most basic elements of the characters: Hiro is a genius boy who experienced loss, Honey Lemon is cheerful and friendly and has a purse for a weapon, Gogo is a no-nonsense speedster, Fred has monster powers, and Wasabi uses green knives. You can read more about the changes HERE. As a result, Big Hero 6 has become MUCH more accessible and appealing to a wider audience, becoming a huge critical and box office success and a huge following.

So with all that, is it any real surprise that Marvel probably wants nothing to do with the original comics anymore?

I can understand some of the confusion, but it’s safe to say that Marvel has moved on from a weird and rather offensive comic that no one liked and would rather focus on their more bankable properties. Any new BH6 comics made by Marvel (based on the film or not) would just be confusing and probably not very successful. Honestly, I think it worked for the best.

The new Big Hero 6 IDW comics is set to be released sometime in 2018. The series will first debut with a pilot movie, Baymax Returns, sometime in November.

Masculinity and the Disney Revival Era

The older I get, the less I feel attached to/need to defend the Disney Princesses. The only time I’ll get defensive is when a critic gets their characters completely wrong (Belle is not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome or pretentious), or claim they’re sexist by…making sexist statements (the original three Disney princesses are not ‘weak’ for being ultrafeminine and passive, it’s because they don’t get enough character development and screen time). They princesses I grew up with will forever hold a place in my heart, but I don’t worship them now like I did when I was a kid, basically.

So I guess that partially explains why I’m hyper critical of the new Disney Princess movies (The Princess and the Frog and onwards). I’ve talked in length on my issues with the new princesses themselves (Tiana should not have been a frog for most of the movie, Moana needed more character flaws, and Anna is literally just a quirky ‘relatable’ character that isn’t interesting at all), but for now let’s talk about the male roles in the Princess films compared to those of the non-Princess films.

Quick quiz: what do Naveen, Flynn Rider, Kristoff, and Maui all have in common, besides being the male leads of the recent Disney Princess films?

And at the beginning of their movies they are all extraordinarily rude and condescending to the female leads. While it is true that they all get better, the only one who’s character development feels the most believable is Flynn’s because he stops being rude to Rapunzel very quickly (after they escape from the Snuggly Duckling) and naturally grows more caring and concerned for her (and thus they grow an attraction to one another). By contrast, Naveen, Kristoff, and Maui are assholes to their respective female counterparts for almost the entire movie, and only stop when the girls either prove themselves to him or after a contrived moment. Kristoff falls in love with Anna right the hell out of nowhere, and Maui is suddenly all better right in time for the climax.

By contrast, look at Wreck-It Ralph. He has his flaws, but it is established at the very beginning that he had a hard life and wants to be loved and appreciated for who he is. When he meets Vanellope and Calhoun, he does NOT act like a jerk to them for no reason or behave like a sexist prick, even when they yank his chain. While he doesn’t think Vanellope is capable of being a racer at first, she doesn’t need to prove himself to him in order to make him sympathize with her; once he sees how bad her situation is he is willing to help out no matter what.

Why the huge difference?

Because, again, the Disney Princess movies have to have a contrived “Look how Feminist TM we are!” message hammered into the audiences heads after all the criticisms their predecessors got. The male characters feel less like characters and more like audience/critic surrogates. Oh, you think our Princesses are ‘weak’? Well fuck you, here’s our Princess doing something reckless to show how brave and strong she is!

This sucks because it makes it harder for me to get invested in their respective relationships. I love Belle and the Beast together because despite a rough start they find comfort and joy in one another. I love Aladdin and Jasmine together because they mutually respect and like each other and he’s willing to expand her horizon. I love Mulan and Shang together because they work efficiently as a team. And, ultimately, I do love Rapunzel and Flynn (or perhaps more appropriately, Eugene) together because they organically grow closer and will do anything for each other. By contrast…I’m supposed to like Kristoff and Anna together despite Kristoff being an absolute prick to her because they survived escaping Elsa’s palace and suddenly like each other? I’m supposed to like Maui and Moana as a friendship even though he demonstratively does not see her as an equal?

But what bothers me is that this is only happening with the Princess movies. Look at Calhoun and Felix, Ralph and Vanellope, or even Nick and Judy. Felix adores Calhoun from the moment he meets her, respects her boundaries, and helps her move on from her traumatic past. Ralph and Vanellope bond over being outcasts in their own games, enrich each other, and would die for one another.

And oh my god, Nick and Judy have some of the greatest chemistry between a male and female lead. They just work so well together, even when they don’t get along at first. Keep in mind, when Nick acts like a jerk to Judy at the beginning, she is always able to get her own back at him. We also understand WHY Nick acts like a jerk at first, and he is able to get better. And it’s not JUST him being a jerk to her; Judy also does something pretty shitty to him, and they BOTH have to make up to each other. In between that they make an excellent and engaging pair.

And of course I have to mention Big Hero 6. What makes that movie even more remarkable is that NO ONE is a jerk to anyone, AT ALL. Hiro, Aunt Cass, Gogo, Honey, Wasabi and Fred (and Baymax) all love and respect each other. No one needs to prove themselves to another. No one acts like a jerk to a woman because they perceive her as weaker. Everybody is equal.

In short, the insistence of making the male and female leads in Princess movies act antagonistically towards each other is just unnecessary and exhausting, and a half-assed attempt of making themselves look ‘progressive’ and ‘feminist’. So I’ll say this:

Women having to prove themselves to antagonistic men is NOT progressive.

Women and men having mutual respect for each other, seeing each other as equals, and working as a team? THAT is progressive.

And why Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 are my fave movies of all time.