Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love Disney? Like a good wine, these movies seem to be getting better with age. Recently, Disney has moved on from the typical damsel-in-distress story and has given us some of the most powerful heroes and heroines in the business.
Pongo (101 Dalmatians)
Pongo continues to be incredibly underrated. He risked his own life to save his fifteen puppies from becoming Cruella De Vil’s newest coat. He ended up saving 99 of them instead, and accepting them as his own!
No one knows how far she’ll go! Moana is one of the newer Disney movies that has taken the world by storm – and so has Moana herself. With the help of a (pretty annoying and unhelpful) Demi-God, Moana vows to return the heart of Te Fiti to restore peace with Mother Nature and to save her Polynesian Tribe. She has troubles, and she defies her family, but she knows what she has to do. And boy she does it well!
You don’t get much more heroic than a God. Quite literally. His name means ‘a superhuman of immense courage and strength’, so we shouldn’t really be surprised by this one. Although he’s pretty socially awkward, especially around Megara (which is kinda cute), he has the super strength that makes saving the world from Hades a lot easier. It’s not all about his muscles and God-status with Hercules, though. In the end, he sacrifices himself for Meg, and it’s pretty darn heroic.
Marling (Finding Nemo)
When watching Finding Nemo, it can be easy to overlook Marlin – because Nemo is the star of the show, right? But when you think about it, the whole story revolves around Marlin and Dory’s efforts to find Nemo and bring him back home. His paternal instincts take him to places he would otherwise find terrifying. They swim across oceans, they fight off sharks, and they make friends with turtles (totally, duuuuuude). If that’s not a hero, then we don’t know what is.
Robin Hood (Robin Hood)
The legend of Robin Hood is famous across the globe – and Disney being Disney decided to change things up and make the hero a lovable fox (not sure why. But we dig it). This story has come from classical literature, following the life of Robin Hood, who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. Through this, Robin Hood becomes the hero the hungry and the poor need in Sherwood Forest, unbeknownst to the rich. The sly fox…
Judy Hopps (Zootopia)
Watch out – there’s a hoppin’ new feminist in town. The release of the incredible Zootopia gave us a fresh new face in the Disney heroine world. Judy Hopps has no interest in being saved by the handsome Prince, nor living happily ever after, or wearing the best princess dress around. All Hopps wants to do is to save the world, one baddie at a time, and she won’t stop until she’s caught them all! The best cop in the business.
Quasimodo(The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
It’s pretty obvious that Quasimodo is the main character of this popular Disney movie – but it’s quite easy to forget what makes him so incredible. Throughout his whole life, Quasimodo was persecuted, made fun of, lied to, and segregated from society for being different. Despite this, he knew what was right and wrong, and he knew that he had to save Esmerelda from his master. He didn’t even complain when Esmerelda chose another guy over him.
When Disney developed the character of Merida, they ticked all the right heroine boxes. She is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the original Disney princesses (*cough* Cinderella *cough*). In this movie, Merida defied her parents’ and society’s plans to marry her off, and proved to them that she was one of the greatest fighters in the kingdom. She saved her mother and brothers from a witch’s spell, and she eventually ruled over her clan bravely and independently.
Simba (The Lion King)
Simba was not only incredibly handsome and charming (you know, for a Lion) but he was also the ultimate hero of The Lion King story. From a young age, we see Simba struggle to become the Lion his father wants him to be. After Mufasa’s death, he is left all alone, with only Timon and Pumba for company. But he soon proves that he is just as courageous as his father, and overpowers Scar to get his Pride back.
Violet (The Incredibles)
Violet has the superpower that a lot of people would love to have, the power of invisibility. Not only that, she also has the power to create force fields that protect not just her, but others around her. When her family come under threat, Violet is able to use both her powers to save her family and overpower the evil Syndrome. She is able to shield her family from evil, so without her, The Incredibles may not have been so incredible.
Aladdin is one of the most unique Disney heroes. He doesn’t care for social standing, he’s not bothered about money, he’s not proud, and he doesn’t have the muscles to boot. What he does have is a big heart, and he knows the difference between right and wrong. He is also an incredibly quick thinker, so with Genie by his side he manages to defeat Jafar and win the heart of Princess Jasmine. They end up living a shining, shimmering and splendid existence.
Woody (Toy Story)
One of the many heroic qualities of Woody is his commitment to his family and friends. Despite everything that happens (across all of the Toy Story movies) Woody will always find his way back to Andy and protect him, and the other toys around him. Although Woody has his ups and downs, he is inherently good. Through these experiences, he realizes what is important in life and what is best for everyone. You know you’ve got a friend in Woody…
Throughout her story, Pocahontas taught us that as women we need to be headstrong, brave, curious and caring. It is also important to follow your heart, even if this means defying those around you. Through her curiosity for the unknown white men, Pocahontas discovered their plan to take over her tribe’s village. She was prepared to sacrifice herself to save not just her people, but also the strangers she had learnt to realize we’re not so different from her after all.
Baymax (Big Hero 6)
Baymax is by far one of the most adorable heroes in Disney history. Our favorite personal healthcare companion was created by Tadashi before he died (we still haven’t gotten over that) and then taken over by Hiro. Throughout the whole movie, Baymax does everything for Hiro, to protect and heal him – right up until the very end, when he sacrifices himself to save the life of Hiro. Luckily, the programming chip was still there, so it wasn’t the end of Baymax.
Ariel (The Little Mermaid)
The reason we love Ariel is because she is the everyday heroine. Throughout her story, she makes some mistakes, takes the wrong path, and leans in the wrong direction. But she strives towards something more – which is something none of her family has ever done before. She wants to know what lies beyond the confines of her underwater palace. She gets to her destination in the end, and finds out for herself what is beyond the sea.
Beast (Beauty And The Beast)
Okay, so the Beast kind of gets off on the wrong foot – but in his defense, he was turned into a buffalo/lion/bear hybrid, so you’d be pretty angry about that. But one of the main characteristics of a hero is the ability to change. Over time, he learns that being angry isn’t going to make him happy, and he soon learns to love Belle. So much so that he would even sacrifice himself for her to live.
The main reason we love Anna is that she didn’t HAVE to save Elsa or Arendelle. Throughout her whole life, Elsa had distanced herself from her sister (although we now know why) and gave her no attention. But still, Anna felt it her duty to travel across the frozen planes to find her sister and save Arendelle from its winter. She endures countless obstacles and reluctance even from those she is saving, and is the ultimate hero at the end of it.
Ralph (Wreck-It Ralph)
Ralph is one of the most interesting heroes – because he is often seen as the villain. However, when you delve deeper, you realize that he isn’t villainous. Rather, he is smart, and he is brave. Throughout this movie, Ralph proves that he can have a bit of a temper on him, but when it comes to hatching a plan, he can do so in a matter of minutes. So that’s exactly what he did, and he even sacrificed himself to save Vanellope’s life.
Jim Hawkins (Treasure Planet)
Treasure Planet is one of the most underrated Disney movies – not that many people even know about it! Yet, it follows one of the bravest heroes and treasure hunters ever. Jim Hawkins travels the galaxy in search of treasure to prove his worth to his mother, but soon gets in with the wrong crowd. Jim is smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong, though, and stands up to them. He’s courageous, quick-thinking and a hero.
The new adaptation of Rapunzel gave us a representation of her that was far different to the classic fairy tale. In Tangled, Rapunzel is independent, smart (she reads a ton of books), quirky, and she can take care of herself. She rebels against her pseudo-mother prisoner, Mother Gothel, who then turns on her and stabs Flynn Rider. But Rapunzel was brave enough to sacrifice her freedom for Flynn’s life – one of the few female heroines to do so.
Although Mulan herself was the main heroine of the movie, we cannot ignore the heroic qualities of Shang – who helped her along the way. Shang possesses some of the most common aspects of many heroes – he’s strong, logical and brave. He’s honorable, determined and a valiant warrior. Throughout the movie, he was one of the only people to see Mulan for who she really was – a true warrior, no matter her gender, and seeing someone’s true potential is a strength few people have.
Belle (Beauty And The Beast)
Belle is the kind of Disney princess we can really relate with. She wants much more than her provincial life, and she just wants to read a dang book without anyone calling her strange. But Belle also made the ultimate sacrifice, making her a perfect heroine. When the Beast wanted to keep her father captive, she rode after him and offered herself as substitute. She eventually saw beyond the Beast’s frightening looks, finding herself falling for the man hidden inside.
Despite his rugged exterior and animalistic qualities, Tarzan has a quick head on his shoulders, with high intelligence, curiosity, and determination that ultimately saves his friends and family. Throughout their time in the jungle, Tarzan makes it his priority to keep everyone around him safe from harm. He steps in to save Kerchak, the silverback who never liked him, from the tiger Sabor. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed in saving his life, but he did eventually earn his respect in his final moments.
Tiana (The Princess And The Frog)
The Princess and the Frog is one of Disney’s newest movies and mixes an old story with modern-day locations and experiences. Princess Tiana is undoubtedly the heroine of this story. We could learn a thing or two from Tiana, who works tirelessly to carry out the dream of her deceased father. She differs from the everyday Disney Princess by showing that hard work and determination, rather than who your parents are, will always pay off.
Peter (Peter Pan)
Let’s be honest, we all either wanted to be Peter Pan when we were younger, or his best friend, Tinkerbell. Peter Pan often goes unnoticed as a hero because he normally acts before he thinks – which most of us are guilty of at some point. But nothing scares Peter Pan; he’s fearless, courageous, and even though he sometimes doesn’t want to, he will always do the right thing. Like saving Wendy and her brothers from Captain Hook.
We can’t help but feel sorry for Jasmine. Born into a noble family, her life is decided for her. But she doesn’t want that. She wants to make her own decisions and decide her own future. Despite what her family expects of her, Jasmine does what she wants, when she wants (with a Tiger by her side!). Jasmine shows she’s independent, stands up for what she believes in, and follows her heart – which leads her straight to Aladdin.
Stitch (Lilo & Stitch)
When you think of Stitch from Lilo & Stitch, you probably think of a strange alien creature rather than a hero. Stitch proved to be incredibly valuable in Lilo’s life, though. During this whole movie, he sticks by her side, protecting her at all costs and is the only one Lilo can truly count on. He is also an emotional hero – throughout their adventures, Stitch helps Lilo realize what family means, and that family can come in all sizes, shapes, and life forms.
Jesse (Toy Story)
Just like her Cowboy pal, Woody, Jessie is one of the most loyal toys around. From her backstory, we know that Jessie was abandoned by her owner. Even though she was extremely hurt by the whole situation, she bottles this down and produces a sassy exterior full of wit and humor. Despite her sadness, she’s incredibly brave, full of hope and was always one of the first toys to help the others around her. A true cowgirl heroine.
Prince Philip (Sleeping Beauty)
From the outside, Prince Philip can so often be categorized into the Prince Charming category – where he doesn’t really do much except kiss the girl and wake her up. On the one hand, yes – he does do this. On the other hand, Philip also proves himself as a worthy hero. During his quest to find Aurora, Phillip battles an epic duel with Maleficent (who is not an easy fight) in her dragon form. He was full of determination, courage, and chivalry.
Wendy (Peter Pan)
A hero is only as good as the heroine next to him – and Peter Pan was successful because Wendy was by his side. Despite being outnumbered by her brothers, Peter and all of the Lost Boys, Wendy still stands her ground and stays true to herself and her family values. She keeps the boys in check and is renowned for her storytelling abilities that keep all of the boys from running amok. Without her, Neverland would have run into disarray.
Flynn Rider (Tangled)
After seeming quite arrogant and selfish for most of the movie, Flynn Rider performs the most heroic act of all. After Mother Gothel stabs him, he sacrifices himself and cuts off Rapunzel’s hair. This renders her unable to bring him back to life, but free from the Evil Mother Gothel. He gave himself up to save her. And that is truly heroic. Luckily, it turns out Rapunzel could use her tears rather than her hair, but he didn’t know that.
Dory (Finding Nemo)
Because of her problems with her memory, Dory could have been incredibly bitter, rude and unhelpful. Yet in reality, she is the complete opposite. She befriends anyone she meets, and she always looks out for those close to her. She was also a huge asset to Marlin’s search for his son, Nemo. Her perseverance to find her family in Finding Dory is commendable. She forgets her flaws, and her talents, – but it all works out for her because of it.
Basil (The Great Mouse Detective)
One of the best ways to determine if a character is a hero or not is to question whether the ending would have been the same without them – and in The Great Mouse Detective, it wouldn’t. Basil is the master of disguise, a true detective and a highly intelligent mouse that is a force to be reckoned with. Considering he’s based on Sherlock Holmes, we all know how those stories end. Basil is the hero.
The Blue Fairy (Pinocchio)
The story of Pinocchio is famous across the world – but it wouldn’t be half the story it is without the input of The Blue Fairy. She gives Pinocchio the chance to be a real boy and even gives Jiminy Cricket his gold badge. The whole character of The Blue Fairy epitomizes everything good in the world. Although she doesn’t appear in Pinocchio for very long, it’s clear she’s the heroine of this story, with a pure and true heart.
Mulan is one of the most epic heroines in Disney history. After starting out as a socially awkward youngster, she finally realizes where she needs to be. That is to take the place of her father in China’s army, to save him from having to fight. So, she pretends to be a man and goes to war in her father’s stead, ending up singlehandedly saving the whole of China (of course). But she did it. She rocked it and proved everyone wrong.