Disney has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering strong female protagonists. Gone are the days of the damsel in distress whose survival solely relies on being rescued by a man. No longer does it take a kiss from a prince to save the day; no, we are in a new age. Whether it be movies like The Little Mermaid or Frozen, characters like Moana or Tiana, #Disney delivers memorable female-centric films. As great as these films are, perhaps it's time for Disney to try something new by giving fans a leading prince; a prince who is courageous and just as memorable as the Disney Princesses.
Yes, there are "official" Disney Princes, but when was the last time we got an animated feature film about one? Other than The Lion King, there hasn't been any true-born Disney prince who was engaging. In fact, you'd be surprised at how many of them are nothing more than just a prince with a face.
I Don't Even Know Your Name: The Lost Princes Of Disney
For every Snow White there's "The Prince," a male protagonist whose sole purpose is to fall in love with the beautiful princess so that they can live happily ever after. While there's nothing wrong with the pursuit of happiness and true love, these men have no other purpose or identity. Where's the prince that a young man can identify with as a model of inspiration? There aren't many, especially true born princes.
Prince Charming (Cinderella) wasn't given a name. His line, "I don't even know your name," should have been given to Cinderella since he was the nameless one. We know that he's a prince who falls in love with #Cinderella at the ball, using the glass slipper to find her, and that's it. Other than his persistence there's no other qualities that would make him nothing more than a cartoon. The blandness that he exudes isn't something identifiable to any young man.
Furthermore, it's hard to believe that he and Cinderella could fall in love when he's known simply as Prince Charming (debatable, since he doesn't really do much). Personally, I'd rather my princess fall in love with a man whose name she knows, and I'm sure I'm not alone. To Disney's credit #PrinceCharming did appear in Cinderella sequels with a more defined personality, but to this day his name still remains a mystery. I for one would at least like to see a prince treated like more than a nameless, lovestruck puppy. Speaking of puppy, the same can be said for The Beast (Beauty and the Beast), who could have at least been called Prince Beast or something.
The nameless princes of Disney are disappointing, but so was their lack of involvement in the lives of the women they were destined to love. They are obligated by that love to be there for them in their time of need. We need a prince who has a name, and will also be there during trying times. While there are a few princes with names, their story really doesn't change.
In fact, the first prince to get a name was Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty, who was featured prominently as the brave hero journeying to save his true love Aurora. It's unfortunate that the princess had to be in a coma for Prince Phillip to get some shine, but at least he wasn't portrayed like some of the other princes.
There was Prince Eric, who had a name, but like so many others he was just a microcosm of the macrocosm in the Little Mermaid. Sadly, he wasn't there when Ariel needed him most, so like any strong woman she dealt with her adversity alone. The story may not have needed him, but it could have used him, made him her partner, her equal, someone she could depend on or show their journey of love. Instead, he's depicted as a mindless, attractive trophy, which aren't very commendable qualities for any man.
I guess it's better to be a small player than an annoying one. Prince Naveen in Princess and the Frog was spoiled, lazy and a nuisance to Tiana before he ultimately changed his ways. There's nothing wrong with a woman helping a man better himself, but Naveen was a jerk, and hardly anyone to be admired. That's why we need a new prince — someone dependable, respectable and ready to step up when times are tough; one to be admired, not useless eye candy or a jerk.
The Prince, Eric, Naveen, Charming and The Beast — these names are just a few of Disney's true born princes (truthfully there aren't many). To those who aren't, well, they went through trials, tribulations and marriage to earn their status. If there's a true Disney Prince, chances are he'll be relegated to a background character or sidekick. Fortunately, there's at least one Disney Prince who has great qualities, though he looks a lot like Eric. Unfortunately, like so many others, he had to marry a Disney Princess to earn that title.
Better Marry Rich If You Want To Be A Disney Prince
Other than aforementioned Prince Philip, you won't find any Disney princes with a feature film. For a young man it's clear that some of these men are worthy; sadly, Disney didn't deem them worthy enough to make them royalty from birth.
We have Aladdin, who at least had an entire movie dedicated to his ascension from the street rat to royal status. Aladdin was a poor boy who stole food and whatever else he could to survive. He'd eventually stumble upon a genie and magic carpet and meet the rebellious Princess of Agrabah, Jasmine. After some major perpetrating and a few small lies, he and Jasmine would get together and eventually marry.
It's unfortunate that he was depicted as a liar, though Jasmine showed why she was so great by falling in love with him despite his social status. It sucks that Aladdin wasn't a prince because he showed courage and the willingness to put his life on the line to save the woman he love. These qualities are absent in the men before him, making him one of few princes that a young man can admire.
Mulan's Li Shang did not have any romantic feelings for Mulan because the titular character was, of course, pretending to be a man. They would eventually marry, making him an official Disney Prince. Again, Li Shang was depicted as a bit of a jerk, though he was brave he displayed qualities that resembled a bully, meaning he wasn't a character that was inspirational for any young man.
Then you have Eugene Fitzherbert from Tangled, who was also thief — one who rivals "The Prince of Thieves" Aladdin himself. Eugene was growing weary of the world around him, but it was his thievery that would bring him salvation. Fortunately, his love for Rapunzel would take him away from his life of crime and into the exclusive fraternity of Disney Princes.
While Eugene did display sufficient merit worthy of admiration, he lacked morals or an ethical code. There's nothing admirable about a person who is consumed by greed that he'd take up the life of crime as a career and hurt the people around him. Sadly, Eugene is another example of a prince whose history is filled with lies and deceit (and he was just a supporting character). Disney is all about the princes, and that's a little disappointing.
Can We Get A Disney (Movie) Prince Worthy Of Praise?
The strong depiction of Disney's princesses is something that every parent can point to and say "There's a princess you can admire." There really is a relatable princess for everyone. Alas, the same can't be said for the men whom Disney deem official Princes. Simba was the only prince who emanated the admirable qualities that you'd expect from a Disney prince: integrity, bravery and the ability to persevere. Unfortunately, Simba is a lion and doesn't fall under the category of a Disney Prince. Even if he did, The Lion King was made over 20 years ago. 2017 is void of a Disney prince who we can point to and say, "I can relate to him."
I'm not saying that Disney has totally ignored the idea of a male-centric film with an admirable protagonist. Still, even with movies like Hercules, Peter Pan and Tarzan, there's a major lack of true princes. The ones we have are either non-factors or reduced to supporting roles, often marrying princesses to become a prince. While there's nothing wrong with having strong, female-driven films, I think it's time Disney introduce fans to a true honorable Disney Prince.
Do you think Disney should have a feature film where a prince is at the epicenter?