In just a few weeks, Walt Disney Animation's Wish will arrive in theaters. The new CG-animated musical takes us to the magical Kingdom of Rosas where we'll meet Asha, a witty and optimistic 17-year-old who senses a darkness about the kingdom's ruler, King Magnifico.
If you haven't yet seen the trailer, check it out below, and then we can dive more into Disney's newest star.
As you can see, the movie looks incredible, drawing comparisons to Frozen, with its inspiring young female protagonist, gorgeous animation and moving music.
Since the film was first announced, there's been a lot of attention on Asha, and rightfully so as she's the film's main protagonist. Voiced by Ariana DeBose, Asha is Disney's first Afro-Hispanic heroine.
Many have referred to Asha as a "Disney Princess," but is she actually? It's complicated.
Technically, Asha is not of royal descent, so she's not a princess in Wish. But the leading heroine does have some of the classic trademarks of a Disney Princess.
As Wish co-directors Chris Buck and Fawn Verrasunthorn have explained, the public's view of what constitutes a "Disney Princess" has changed over the years and it was more important for them to create a character who was "relatable" rather than simply of royal bloodline.
“Asha is representing a very different kind of teen,” Lee explained to The Wrap. “She’s representing a teenager that we can all relate to today…it wouldn’t make sense for her to carry any of the burdens of whatever societal structure she was in at the beginning of the film.”
“When I was growing up I wasn’t thinking about the characters as princesses or not,” the director explained. “It was more about what differentiated the characters. It ties to the classic fairy tale and the concept of this European structure at the time that we just went with but as we get older we look at it differently.
It's worth noting that being of royal blood hasn't been a requirement for a character to have the Disney Princess moniker. And modern audiences don't seem as fixated on the issue either. To that end, Disney storytellers are more focused on creating compelling characters rather than royalty.
Lee pointed out that princesses Anna and Elsa weren't even initially written as royalty. They were referred to as "Disney heroines." Although they both
"You’re hitting on something that is actually is very important. A lot of times it’s assumed that our heroines are princesses. People just assume ‘Well, it’s another princess movie.' Not necessarily. Wait to see the movie," Buck teased.
So there you have it. Asha isn't a princess in Wish. There's a debate to be had whether she's a "Disney Princess." But she is a Disney Heroine and, more importantly, she's hopefully an interesting and compelling character that moviegoers can relate to.
Wish opens in theaters on November 22. Tickets are now on sale.