There aren’t many animated movies made with a female protagonist. Women are usually cast as a love interest, side-kicks or close friends. Disney has made quite a few movies with females in the lead, but they’ve usually been princesses and not always that active in the movies. However if you really look, you can find some pretty neat heroines. I’ll list a few down below!
– Coraline from “Coraline” (2009). Directed by Henry Selick (“Nightmare before Christmas”) and based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, this is a fun and dark story with a stubborn, outspoken girl as the main character. Coraline moves to a new house with her busy parents who according to Coraline never want to be with her or understand her. While exploring her new home, Coraline stumbles upon a door to a new world where she meets her “Other Mother” and ”Other Father”. They, or more exactly the “Other Mother”, seem to want to give Coraline everything she’s wants. But at a high cost.
What I like about Coraline is that she’s not an idealized character. She has her flaws and is a bit selfish as children can be at times, but she does grow as a person in the movie. She bravely fights not only to save her own life, but others as well. She’s also smart, using her brains to solve critical situations.
This movie is also worth checking out for the creepy and actually frightening Villain “Other Mother”. Yikes! Her looks, voice and actions will surely send a shiver down everyone’s spine. The visuals in this movie aren’t that bad either. But do read the book as well. I actually fond it more dark and exciting.
– Mulan from “Mulan” (1998). This was the first Disney movie to feature an Asian heroine. She’s also could be counted as the first female character that is the hero of the movie for real in the sense that she does (spoiler!) defeat the villain herself. I know that she is counted as a “Disney princess”, but in the movie she’s just an ordinary girl who has a strong will, a golden heart and smarts beyond measure. Disney most likely made her a princess afterword because the movie was such a huge success, which was, sorry to say, quite annoying to me. Mulan was great for showing that ordinary girls are cool too, but then in later media they had to give her a tiara and a part of the “Disney Princess” clan. Come on!
Mulan is a misfit girl in her village that is located somewhere in China (The movie never tells us exactly where). When China is attacked by the Huns, the emperor demands that one man from every family will join the army and fight in the war. Mulan, worried about her wounded and aging father, decides to disguise herself as a man and take her father’s place in the army.
“Mulan” is a movie that has humor, adventure and even a feminist message. Worth watching!
– Mrs. Brisby from “The Secret of NIMH” (1982). Mrs. Brisby is a field mouse. She’s also a single mother left with four young children after her husband dies. When one of them falls sick during a time of the plow, that is, when the farmer who owns the land that Mrs. Brisby and other animals live on is to be turned upside down during the annual plowing of the fields, Mrs. Brisby must seek the help of a group of mysterious rats.
Mrs. Brisby is what you could call nearly the ultimate cool female protagonist. She’s courageous, taking huge risks trying to help her children, friends and strangers that she sees are in danger. She is kind and loving towards her children. She’s brave enough to do highly dangerous things and shows great gratitude towards the help she receives from others. Mrs. Brisby is an admirable and unusual character. How many kids movie feature a middle-aged woman as the lead?
“The Secret of NIMF” has also a great plot. It mixes adventure and science fiction with a hint of fantasy. The art is dark and gritty. The ending is gripping and heart-moving. It is also quite depressing for a children’s movie. Edgy!
– Susan from “Monsters vs. Aliens” (2009). Susan, along with everything else in this movie, is totally underrated. Susan starts off in the movie as a bride-to-be, living only for her fiancé, but when she is hit by a giant meteor and becomes a giant monster, she learns to stand up for herself and to rely on her own talents. She sees that her fiancé is selfish, and doesn’t mind leaving him and being single at the end of the movie. How many heroines in these kind of movies do you see doing that; being single at the end of the movie?
Besides Susan, this movie is a hilarious watch; it makes fun of movie clichés in a clever away, it has political satire, and goofy sidekicks. I don’t understand why the critics were so down on this movie when it came out. I think it was merely the title that turned people off, but that’s kind of unfair since it’s supposed to be a joke. It’s making fun of B-movies.
“Monsters vs Aliens” is worth a watch. I think it’s one of the best movies that DreamWorks has made. Not better than “Ice Age”, but still really good!
So that’s a few female protagonists that are totally awesome. I would like to say as a finishing note that Princess Tiana from “The princess and the frog” (2009) was not on this list due to the fact that I’ve already talked about her and the movie she’s in. Also she is a actual princess in the movie. No offense, Tiana, you’re a breathtaking girl, but I wanted to talk about different kinds of heroines.
If anyone can think of some that I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to tell me!