Disney movies have grown and adapted over the years. However, no matter how much the writing or animation of Disney films has changed, certain attributes have remained stable over the years. Many Disney films share similar stories or concepts in a mold that has been tried and tested for decades. While there are similarities and differences between old and new Disney movies, there are many standard storylines that have been woven into multiple Disney movies.
Disney’s brand of Princess movies feature many romantic storylines or subplots, such as Cinderella Where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, other films want to emphasize familial or platonic love at the forefront of story importance, such as lilo and stitch Where Frozen. Disney films are also very well known for killing one of the character’s two parents or important relatives to motivate the audience or make the central character empathetic, something that works in The Lion King and Big Hero 6. Over the years, Disney has provided many different films which, while individual in their own right, also provide a similar series of plots, even if their execution is portrayed differently between older and newer films.
The Lion King is famous for this one. Although both of Simba’s parents are alive at the start of the film, things come to a head when Scar’s plan results in Mufasa’s tragic death. But, it’s not bad enough that Simba witnesses all of this; Scar convinces him that it’s Simba’s fault that Mufasa is dead, and Simba has a better chance of survival if he runs away. Scar takes advantage of Simba’s absence to take over the kingdom. However, from the moment Simba is led to believe that he caused his father’s death, the public is steadily behind Simba, if he isn’t already.
Although Hiro’s parents are already deceased before the start of the film, Hiro and his older brother, Tadashi, live with their aunt, Big Hero 6 pulls this same plot when Tadashi dies. A devastated Hiro refuses to go to college and hides from his brother’s friends. Eventually, however, Hiro finds himself hooked on his brother’s latest creation, Baymax, finding a companion in the robot and considering it the last thing Hiro has from Tadashi.
Other Disney movies featuring deceased parents include Brother Bear, Frozen, Bambi, Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, and much more.
The Disney Princess
One of the story’s tropes that helped Disney become the sensation it became was its decision to create the Disney princess, who eventually finds love with a prince. Such a trope has evolved to become known as harmful and unromantic, primarily because many moments of “true love” occur in non-consensual situations. Many elements of Disney movie romances haven’t aged well.
Ralph breaks the internet took the opportunity to denounce Disney’s use of the princess trope, even though more recent Disney Princesses have had a greater stake in their own lives and destinies. In Ralph breaks the internetVanellope finds herself stuck in a room with all of Disney’s most famous princesses, where they laugh at how people think their problems have been solved because a man showed up.
Whether it’s Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Yzma in The Emperor’s New RoutineHades in Herculesor Mother Gothel in Tangled, Disney films are filled with evil antagonists. However, some are more evil for the simple fact that there is an antagonist in the film. Meanwhile, other Disney films create a villain in an effort to have a more meaningful narrative discussion.
For example, in zootopia, the film uses its main antagonist, Dawn Bellwether, to have a larger discussion of racism and discrimination. In Tangled, Mother Gothel is a strong example of control and someone who uses gaslighting to keep Rapunzel under her thumb. Yzma’s desire to control the empire leads her to want Kuzco out of the way.
Encanto and turn red feature stories about generational trauma. In Encanto, Mirabel is the only member of her family without a magical gift, which has led to a conflict between her and her grandmother, Alma. Mirabel wants to make her family proud but faces adversity feeling the pressure of her grandmother’s wishes for their family. Meanwhile, Mirabel’s sisters Luisa and Isabela constantly feel the pressure to be perfect in their family. Luisa thinks she needs to be useful with her strength and keep going no matter how she feels. Although considered perfect at creating flowers and plants, Isabela wants to grow and recognize that she is not perfect. The generational trauma also spreads to Bruno, who flees after making it look like he’s hurting the family, even though he loves them.
In turn red, the film explores the different perspectives mother-daughter duo Ming and Mei have of their red panda counterparts. Ming had luckily locked up his own years ago. She couldn’t handle the size of her red panda and didn’t like having a figure that could elevate if Ming lost control. Mei, terrified at first, finds herself enjoying being a red panda. Mei and Ming’s different perspectives on the same event cause strife and conflict as they cannot understand each other’s perspective. However, turn red also relates to self-acceptance and understanding from parents when their behavior or actions have been wrong. Showing parents that they apologize to their children and admit being wrong is an important step because it shows that parents are not perfect and they know it. However, it also opens the door to healthier parent-child relationships when parents accept responsibility for their offending behavior rather than the child having to take their parent’s actions no matter how much it hurts them. .
The power of love and friendship
Love can break even the deadliest of curses as long as it’s true. Whether it’s a real kiss of love or an act of true love in any form, love is the key to many conflicts or problems in Disney movies. In Frozen, an act of true love can save Anna from a frozen heart. However, it’s not Kristoff’s rush for a romantic moment that saves his life. Instead, Elsa’s love for her sister saves the day. In The beauty and the Beasttrue love saves the Beast from remaining a beast forever.
Discover your own path
Even though Moana’s father wants her to avoid the water, she can’t help but feel drawn to the ocean. So when her grandmother allows Moana to go on a massive journey to find Maui and return Te Fiti’s heart, it gives her a chance she’s always wanted to explore beyond the island she’s always lived on. . In Frozen, Elsa must leave her kingdom, at least temporarily, to figure out how to gain control of her ice powers, which her parents had always tried to make her lose. Although the war recruits only male soldiers, Mulan goes anyway and becomes the best warrior in the group. In Brave, Merida refused to follow the rules that would force her to marry and chose to fight for her own destiny. In Ralph breaks the internetVanellope leaves “Sugar Rush”, finding a new home and excitement in “Slaughter Race”.
Physical transformation is another key storyline in Disney films. This is usually done so that the person who has transformed understands another perspective or to push them away. For example, Tiana and Naveen are both transformed into frogs in The Princess and the Frog. Although they wish to return to human form, that doesn’t happen until they find a way to accept the possibility of being frogs forever. The beauty and the Beast is another famous example, even if the plot doesn’t quite match the original intent of the Sorcerer’s Curse.
In Brother Bear, Kenai is turned into a bear after his actions result in the death of a bear. During his time as a bear, Kenai meets Koda, a young bear whose mother has gone missing. When Kenai realizes that he is responsible for Koda’s mother’s death, it helps him see the horrors of his actions. In The Emperor’s New Routine, Kuzco accidentally becomes a llama. Still, the experience helps him understand that he needs to stop seeing himself on a pedestal and understand life from Pasha’s point of view.