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Disney is known for its animated blockbusters, and a new one recently arrived in theaters and homes thanks to Raya and the Last Dragon. Directed by
Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, the film welcomes a new Disney princess in the form of Kelly Marie Tran's badass title character. Since the movie's release, there's been some conversation about if Raya and Namaari (Gemma Chan) actually have a romantic connection. Luckily, Tran herself recently opened up about that possibility.
Over the past few years, there's been a ton of conversation about inclusion in movies and TV. As film projects become more diverse, there's also been calls for underrepresented folks like the LGBTQIA+ community to have proper representation. Some moviegoers thought this might have occurred with via the title character of Raya and the Last Dragon, and Kelly Marie Tran addressed this theory. In her words,
I’m obsessed with Namaari and I’m obsessed with Gemma Chan. So I’m really excited you brought this up. I think if you’re a person watching this movie and you see representation in a way that feels really real and authentic to you, then it is real and authentic. I think it might get me in trouble for saying that, but whatever.
Touche. While it doesn't look like Disney actually included a queer leading character in the form of Raya, Kelly Marie Tran understands the power of the audience reactions. What's more, she wants people who are empowered by her new Disney character to remain so.
Kelly Marie Tran's comments to Vanity Fair will certainly add fuel to theories about Raya and the Last Dragon. While Disney and its various projects have started dipping their collective toe in the water of queer representation, some fans were hoping that history was made regarding Raya's characterization. We'll just have to see if a sequel gets ordered, and whether or not this theory comes to fruition.
Raya and the Last Dragon is currently available on Disney+ at an additional cost. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.
While Disney princesses are historically known for their love stories, the House of Mouse has pivoted away from this trope in recent years. Moana and Frozen were not love stories, and neither is Raya and the Last Dragon. Still, the connection between Kelly Marie Tran's character and her rival/friend Namaari was one that piqued interest.
Of course, this isn't the first time that Disney fans have theorized about a major princess being an LGBTQIA+ character. Frozen's heroine Elsa has yet to have a romantic storyline, although some were hoping that she'd end up queer in Frozen II. Star Wars' Oscar Isaac himself pushed for his character Poe to have a romantic connection with Finn, although he was denied. We'll just have to wait and see what the studio has to say about Raya.
As far as representation goes, Disney is going to be making history with the delayed Marvel blockbuster Eternals. The movie will feature a Black, gay superhero, as well as the first hearing impaired hero. The movie's cast is extremely diverse, and Nomadland filmmaker Chloe Zhao is behind the camera and breaking new ground in the process.
Raya and the Last Dragon is currently available on Disney+, as well as in theaters. Be sure to check out our 2021 release list to plan your next movie experience.