Feminism

Pixar’s New Heroine!

Last week, when I was visiting San Francisco for the American Atheists meeting, I had the opportunity to tour the Pixar campus. Craig Good, who has been with Pixar since before they were the Pixar we know and love, very kindly invited me out and showed me a ton of stuff that I am legally required to not show you.

But! There is something I can mention:

Pixar is working on a film that looks to be their very best yet, and it’s the first one starring a female leading character. I saw some gorgeous concept art hanging at Pixar (you can see some concept art for it here), and now an image of the heroine has officially been released.

Here’s the storyline, from Disney via IMDB:

Set in Scotland in a rugged and mythical time, “Brave” features Merida, an aspiring archer and impetuous daughter of royalty. Merida makes a reckless choice that unleashes unintended peril and forces her to spring into action to set things right.

Thanks to Craig Good and to Chris Ford for showing me around Pixar and for giving me awesome toys as souvenirs!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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27 Comments

  1. Okay, first, I’m totally jealous that you got a tour of the Pixar campus. I am a total unashamed Pixar fanboy.

    Second, though, while I’m thrilled that they’re finally making a movie with a female protagonist (and director, for that matter), I really, really wish they hadn’t made her a princess. I mean, yes, knowing them it’s going to be an awesome movie, she’ll kick all sorts of ass and subvert all sorts of princess expectations. So did Mulan, and she ended up just another sparkly dress-up doll in the Disney Princess line (to which Disney has already confirmed Merida will be added).

    I mean, Pixar practically specializes in unexpected heroes. An old ragdoll. The monster in your closet. A trash-compacting robot. A rat who likes to cook. Ed Asner. Surely they could’ve come up with something for their very first female protagonist other than princess. I’ll still see it, and I’m sure I’ll love it, but still.

    1. Have to agree with you there. First thing I thought of was the fact that she was royalty. Bet her Mom is dead too.

      Sure it will still be a good movie. Pixar rarely disappoints, I am looking at you “Cars”.

      1. Cars is the least of the Pixar offerings, and I’m convinced it’s because Story Director Joe Ranft died in a car crash (off a cliff, no less) in the middle of production. There’s just something *off* about the film.

        So of course they’re making a sequel. I saw the preview last weekend, and it looked terrible. I have a great deal of faith in Pixar, but they’re going to have to work hard to make Cars 2 not suck.

  2. LOL @ spurge re: the dead mother trope. I’d lay money on that too.

    About “Cars 2” – saw a preview of it before “Pirates 4” last weekend, and it looked to me like it’s going to suffer from the predictable Smurfette Problem. Business as usual…

    On the other hand, Bruce Campbell, Eddie Izzard.

  3. Yeah, the previews for Ratatouille, WALL-E, an Up all looked less than spectacular but the finished pictures were anything but. I have given up second-guessing Pixar before the films actually come out.
    Sure, Cars was “Doc Hollywood” in animated form, but DH is a perfectly charming movie and while Cars was less than what is expected from Pixar it was better than 95% of what else is out there.
    As for The Incredibles, there is something about it that just seemed off and I can’t put my finger on it; when my daughter dragged me to Megamind two things struck me; that it was as good as The Incredibles was and there were an awful lot of gratuitous cleavage shots for a kids movie. But again The Incredibles is better than most kids movies so all this is nitpicking.
    .
    I hope that Brave is as good as it can be, and that the “princess makes good” expectations (BTW – her parents are both alive for at least part of the movie since they are played by Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson) are thoroughly destroyed, or at least mercilessly tweaked. From the outline I would say that this sounds like a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz”, but then that would be second-guessing. :)

  4. I think this is great BUT, I really wish we could get some female leads who don’t start off as “daughters of royalty.” It seems like female characters in disney and pixar movie are either secondary or, if they are leads, they are born into and/or marry into royalty.

    Still, this is a huge improvement over the frilly ball gown variety of princess we are used to.

  5. I’m always a bit wary of the heroine as female trope with dominant male characteristics. No idea what this movie is about but here’s to hoping it takes a cue from Twisted. Twisted may have been the best example of portraying a strong female lead without resorting to drag in recent memory.

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