For those who haven’t been keeping up, “Who Reigns Supreme?” is a blog miniseries weighing in on the debate over which Disney princess is best. We won’t say which one we think is best because we love them all. We’ll just give arguments in favor of a few — maybe even all of them. This time, we’re talking about Merida, Disney princess … and Pixar princess.
The Case Against Merida, Disney Princess
Let’s get the obvious counterargument out of the way first: Merida’s Disney princess status is a tad contentious. By 2012, when Brave came out, The Walt Disney Company had already owned Pixar Studios for six years. That doesn’t stop some from insisting that Merida’s a Pixar princess but not a Disney princess. In their view, it’s like giving that title to Leia from Star Wars.
Moreover, while acceptance of her free-spiritedness is part of Brave’s entire point, not everyone is taken with her brashness. She doesn’t have to be perfectly prim and proper like, say, Snow White. But she could stand to be a little nicer and more willing to compromise — something she doesn’t do, even by the movie’s end. When Queen Elinor says they’ve both changed, it rings hollow to some.
Torn by Pride
We could echo some of the complaints people levy against Merida. How she nearly wrecks an alliance of clans in a poorly thought-out act of rebellion. How she resorts to brainwashing her mother through magic, with a poorly thought-out wish turning out predictably bad. How even when she deserves a say in her life, she’s still selfish, stubborn, and prideful.
However, those flaws are welcome in a protagonist. We don’t watch movies to see people being perfect all the time. We watch them see the main characters make mistakes, learn from them, and come out wiser. Otherwise, they’d be a little boring, wouldn’t they? Merida arguably has all those issues, and that’s fine. They make her maturation so much more rewarding to witness.
Change Your Fate
With that said, we don’t have to wait for the ending to enjoy Merida as a character. Even with her mother’s endless training, the youth has a real verve to her. She comes alive as she rides out into the forest, firing arrows at well-worn targets, and scales cliffs for the thrill of it. This reflects her sheer will, which causes problems (trying to overpower her mother) but also resolves them (sword fighting her dad to save her mom’s life).
Let it not be said that Merida doesn’t care for her family. She and her father are on good terms from the start, jointly mocking her would-be suitors. Her younger siblings love her, using their mischief to help her when she needs it. The movie sees her grappling with wanting control over her life with keeping her mother in it. She achieves it, but only by admitting her guilt and accepting her mother as she wants to be accepted.
Fighting a giant bear monster is scary. Owning up to your mistakes and acknowledging your character flaws — especially to the ones you consider your harshest critics — can be even scarier. It takes courage to confront yourself, stops blaming others, and mend the bonds you nearly destroyed with your selfishness, stubbornness, and pride.
Merida isn’t perfect. No one is, including you, including those who dislike her character. That’s the point. In the end, she’s brave enough to accept it and make compromises and do what she must to protect not just herself, but everyone. That’s what makes Merida, a Disney princess or Pixar princess, such a great character.
Merida Gifts at Your WDW Store
Fans of Merida, Disney princess movies, and Disney in general, can find much to enjoy at Your WDW Store. We have plenty of Brave costumes, pins, dolls, and more merch in stock, including plenty of Disney Parks exclusives. Visit our shop today!