Animated Disney movies, especially those starring princesses, have followed a pretty familiar formula over the years. While recent films have shaken up that formula, the newest entry will be the most radical departure yet. Nearly every Disney princess movie has had a story about the main character falling love. Even those movies where romance hasn't been the focus have had a love interest character. According to the director, Moana will have no love interest at all.
The news came from the Moana panel at San Diego Comic-Con. During the Q & A a fan asked directors Ron Clements and John Musker what they wanted to bring to the Disney princess franchise that was unique. While there were a number of things that they felt made the character and the movie special, such as the fact that Moana would be the first Disney princess to really go on a hero's journey, the biggest difference was something a bit more personal. According to one of the directors, the two main characters in the film don't fall for each other.
As I was in the room, I can tell you this one was big. This statement got a round of wild applause from the assembled crowd. Moana only appears to have two major characters, Moana, the daughter of a chief in the South Pacific, and Maui, the demigod whose help she needs to complete her quest. It would not have been crazy to have the two characters fall in love while on their journey together. That setup has certainly been used by Disney before, in something like Tangled. However, in this case, the movie is about Moana's hero's journey. Romance is not only not the focus, it won't even be a consideration.
Disney's classic princess films, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, were all about having their main characters fall in love. Even in the studio's more modern films, while they have begun to stray away from focusing on relationships, have always left that part of the story there. Mulan is not about the main character finding her prince, but she does find one nonetheless. Even the most recent princess feature is guilty. While Frozen had Elsa, who survived the film without so much as having her head turned, her sister Anna was a bit boy crazy, which was a major part of the story.
The directors feel that Moana will be a strong role model for young girls, as the story is all about finding your own inner voice and not letting anybody else define you. As such, having Moana fall in love could have been counterproductive to that message.
What do you think about a completely romance free Disney princess movie? Will you miss that aspect, or is this the right move for Disney, to make more independent princesses?