After the disappointment (in quality if not in box office returns) that was Cars 2, we hope that Pixar will redeem themselves next summer with Brave. Set to open in theaters on June 22nd, 2012, Brave tells the story of Merida, a young Scottish princess who's more interested in archery than in her many suitors. After following one of the mysterious lights known as Will-o'-the-Wisps, Merida discovers an old witch and makes a deal that could endanger the entire kingdom.

Empire Online has posted two exclusive new stills from Brave, and you can check them out below.

This one obviously shows Merida encountering the Will-o'-the-Wisp that sets things in motion. Merida's character design is definitely up to Pixar's gold standard and that shock of flame-red hair is as distinctive a feature as Mickey's gloves or Woody's hat. The stone obelisks in the background also make me wonder if she runs across the critter amidst some abandoned ruins or mystical site of some sort. Either way, it's exciting to see Pixar exploring the ancient Scottish setting, dipping into mythology that hasn't been as fully explored as some. Now if somebody could just talk them into adapting Lloyd Alexander's "Prydain" books, I'd be a happy camper.

Empire's story doesn't note who these three charming chaps are, but based on what we know about Brave they're likely Lord MacGuffin, Lord Macintosh, and Lord Dingwall, the three rulers of Merida's land. Going back to the subject of character design again, these three are perfect examples of exaggerating the human physique to create cartoonish but instantly recognizable characters. You almost know everything you need about these guys just from their looks.

Stay tuned to Cinema Blend for the latest on Brave as we get closer to the release date, and you can read more in our Blend Film Database.

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