Monday, February 17, 2014

A Serious Discussion Regarding the Disney Princesses

When you say "Disney", certain things immediately spring to mind. Mickey Mouse and friends, for example. Another thing emblematic of Disney as a company today are the Disney Princesses. This powerful media franchise, crossing several films, reaches out to many. Considering the proliferation of the brand, I think it's high time to discuss one of the issues that I'm sure many have thought about...

If the Disney Princesses were to get into a fight, who would win?

Before I begin this serious and scholarly discussion, some ground rules...

1) I will only be discussing the current, official members of the Disney Princess line-up, so Anna and Elsa do not figure into this discussion, as they haven't been inducted yet. Similarly, characters like Esmeralda, Jane Porter, or Megara are not official members of the franchise and as such will not be discussed.

2) I will only be counting the characters as depicted in the primary film. Straight-to-video sequels, animated series, and any other assorted spin-off media will not factor into this.

3) No weapons, no cute animal sidekicks.

4) All the princesses will be fighting in a huge free-for-all.

Now, that we've established the rules, let's run down the list, starting with the least likely to win up through the Princess most likely to come out of this as Queen of the Mountain. Here we go!

11) Snow White

Being the youngest and the shortest, Snow is already at a clear disadvantage. Combine that with her unrelenting niceness, she'd probably try to talk her way out of this. The only thing in her favor is that anytime we see someone directly trying to harm her in the movie, they fail. The poison apple doesn't count, as she made a choice to eat that; it's her fault for being so trusting of strangers. Snow quickly gets eliminated.

10) Princess Aurora/ Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty)

Well, she's got fae gifts, so that's in her favor. The downside is that those are limited to being pretty, a lovely singing voice, and not dying from a curse. She is one of the tallest princesses, so she's got a reach advantage. Much like Snow, however, Aurora is naive and nice. She lacks the killer instinct that's going to take her to the top.

9) Belle (Beauty and The Beast)

Intelligent, yes, and able to dodge traffic and other obstacles while reading a book. Impressive, but she needs some brawn with those brains. She may have read a book on self-defense or Sun Tzu's The Art of War, but I doubt that's going to be enough.

8) Cinderella

She might look sweet and nice, but she does have a bit of a temper (remember, she was ready to jack that cat's s*** up at one point). However, she's got no sort of combat training. She's willing to stand up for herself, but without help, she's going down.

7) Tiana (The Princess and The Frog)

Now, granted, we don't see her fight in the movie, and most of her conflicts seem to be resolved with her using her wits, and those were in her frog form no less. It's hard to say how well she'd do in a physical confrontation as a human with other humans. However, I've been assured by people much more knowledgeable about certain facts than I am that she'd handle herself quite well. "Honey, the girl's from Nawlins! She's gonna take this!"

6) Pocahontas

 Physically, she's got what it takes. Again, though, we never see her in combat. She's definitely the fastest of the Princesses (she might even qualify as possessing superhuman speed), and when you combine that with her ability to sneak around, Pocahontas is a definite wild card.

5) Jasmine (Aladdin)

Now, the "no spin-offs" rule I added really hinders Jasmine, as she got pretty bad-ass in the animated series. As it stands, though, she's got a good shot. She's very good at deception, though I doubt she'll be able to bluff her way to victory.

4) Rapunzel (Tangled)

Now, we're assuming for this one that she still has her hair. She does seem quite adept at using it, and she's very good at adapting to changing circumstances. On the other hand, lack of any formal combat training is going to be a major hindrance, and it's unlikely she'll be able to sing her magic song fast enough to use her hair to offset any damage she might suffer.

3) Merida (Brave)

She's mainly known for her skill in archery, and, in a contest with no weapons, that's not going to help her here. However, she also managed to both disarm and disable her much larger and more experienced father, meaning she's got a few surprises up her sleeve when it comes to hand-to-hand combat. Also, she's a feisty redhead. NEVER underestimate that.

2) Mulan

She's not a Princess because she was born into it, she's not a Princess because she married into it, she's a princess because when the Huns invaded China, she wasn't having ANY of that crap. She's skilled, fast, and clever, and that's a combination that almost no other Princess can beat. Almost. Which leads me to my pick for the Princess most likely to come out of this brawl the winner....

And the winner is....

1) Ariel (The Little Mermaid)

She's excited about that fork because she's imagining just how many people she can stab with it.
 I know what a lot of you are thinking. "Ariel? ARIEL?!? How the heck can you pick her over Fa Mulan, the Savior of China?" Simple. Sit back and prepare to have your minds blown.

First, being a mermaid, Ariel has both superhuman strength and durability, a lifetime under the sea toughening her musculature. Now, before you start quibbling, saying I'm just pulling this from comic books, this is in fact supported by the film. When she's turned into a human, she's neither crushed by the pressure under the waves, nor does she suffer any sort of decompression when she's rapidly brought to the surface. Furthermore, when Ursula grows to giant size, and makes a whirlpool, Ariel falls from the surface straight down to the rocky bottom of the sea with no water in between, yet she's unscathed. That's the durability. As for strength, remember, she moves the large rock guarding the entrance to her treasure grotto with ease. When you factor in the size of that rock and the difference in water pressure between the inside and the outside, that's no easy task for a comparable human of her size.

"Fine," you say, "She's got super-strength. Shan-Yu was much larger and stronger than Mulan, and she beat him!" Well, first, Mulan didn't actually ever beat Shan-Yu; she was just stalling him long enough for Mushu and Cri-Kee to get into position. More important is another supernatural ability- Ariel learns things really quickly. Despite having never done so before, she learns to walk with ease in a matter of hours, whereas a normal human would spend months or years learning or, in the case of rehabilitation following an injury, relearning how to walk.

Now, you might argue that combat is much more difficult and complicated than walking, and Ariel does not have the luxury of hours to adapt in a big brouhaha like this. I've already taken that into account. It would appear that her powers of adaptation react accordingly to the danger of the situation. Now, when learning to walk, she was in no immediate danger, so it took longer. Later on in the film, during the montage where she and Prince Eric are having a pleasant afternoon, Eric hands over the reigns of the horse and carriage to Ariel, and the carriage immediately goes out of control, several times threatening to crash. However, Ariel gets things under control in moments, and her skill at driving impresses Eric enough that he leans back, places his hands behind his head, and puts his feet up, confident that there will be no further danger.

Now, when you take all of that into consideration, Ariel is essentially a combination of Aquaman and the Taskmaster. Unless someone like Mulan can deliver a knock-out blow to Ariel early on, which would be exceedingly difficult given the aforementioned super-durability, then Ariel will quickly acclimate to the ebb and flow of the battle, easily becoming the combat equal of the more skilled fighters in the contest. With all of that in her favor, Ariel finds her voice in this contest, and it's not the sweet song "Part of Your World" but rather a triumphant battle cry as she defeats her opponents.

And there you have it. If you disagree with my arguments and conclusions, feel free to comment, as I am eager to offer rebuttals to any and all.

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