Walt Disney Studios has given us quite a few gut-busting, whimsical, and emotional films over the years. Classics like The Lion King, Hercules, and Cinderella are all wonderful classics that were part of our childhood and are still filling the hearts of children today. Many of their most recent movies have continued to adore fans, and have even made leaps and bounds with the times by having added a layer of diversity to their storytelling. Here are some of the most progressive Disney films that have come out in recent years.
The Princess and the Frog
Cinderella is great. Snow White is, too. And who could forget Ariel? There’s no denying that these princesses were influential to many young girls, but the fact there is no diversity among them is quite prominent, to say the least. It wasn’t until the 90s that we were finally given some females of different descent, such as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Jasmine, and The Princess and the Frog gave us the first African-American princess in 2009. Tiana was a welcome addition to the band of Disney princesses when the film first debuted, and an inclusive step in the right direction for the company.
As the latest film on this list to grace the big screen (way back in 2016), it delivers the goods. Stunning visuals, excellent voice acting, and an intriguing story to wrap it all up. But the film does much more than simply entertain its audience; through the use of animals in the modern workplace, the film addressed diversity and inclusion topics like eliminating bias, acceptance, and anti-racism–or anti-speciesism, in this case. Predators and prey act as fairly obvious metaphors, as does the film’s depiction of political corruption. Heavy stuff for a kid’s movie! But it does so wonderfully, teaching kids the age-old lesson that you should not judge a book by its cover, and that is portrayed in more ways than one.
Okay, maybe this one isn’t that recent, but this 1998’s Mulan really is brilliant. The movie sends the message to little girls everywhere that they should stand up for what they believe in, especially themselves. There is a nice change of pace to get a female protagonist that doesn’t flop her head into a pillow and wail when a problem arises but instead charges headfirst with her head held high and sword in hand. It shows that women are just as capable as men, and in Mulan’s case, sometimes more so.
Not only are these films inclusive, but they’re entertaining, musical, and filled with important, heartfelt messages. They’re all available on Disney+, but you can find them on DVD and Blueray, too. If you’ve never seen them, it’s highly recommended that you go out and watch them; they’re great fun for the whole family!