Is “Brave” Merida An Official Disney Princess?

Or, to put it another way – is Disney Brave enough to make Merida an official princess?

Edited to add – yes! It’s official – Merida from Disney/Pixar’s Brave will have her coronation as the 11th member of the Disney Princess Line Up in July of 2013! Click for more info :)

Right this second, no. But I’d be willing to go all in that she’s a legit Disney Princess by the end of 2012. Why am I so sure? Because Brave Merida is making bank for Disney/Pixar. And as much as I love all things Disney, that mouse (like any corporation) is heavily fueled by the all-mighty dollar.

Edited to add – Tangled came out in November of 2010, and Rapunzel was officially welcomed into the Disney Princess franchise on October 2, 2012. Therefore I am extending my deadline to this time (July) 2013, because apparently it can take up to a year for the paperwork to clear. :) It’s also worth noting that Rapunzel had a procession and coronation ceremony at Kensington Palace in London, which is pretty darn fancy. Hopefully Merida will get the same treatment – but perhaps in Glasgow, Scotland?

For further (slightly crackpot conspiracy) theories, click through to my new article Brave Merida On Track To Become Official Disney Princess!

Alright, now let’s get to know Merida and her world…

Her official title is Princess Merida of DunBroch – a kingdom in the Scottish highlands. As the daughter to Queen Elinor and King Fergus, and the first-born of Clan DunBroch, she is clearly born royalty. Plus, she exceeds the official standards put forth by Disney:

“either royal by birth, royal by marriage, or considered a “princess” due to their significant portrayal of heroinism in their film and/or of a very high status in their country/region.”

So why might she be excluded from the lineup of official Disney Princesses? Well, Merida deviates from the norm is some clear (and clearly awesome) ways:

She’s the first human Disney/Pixar Princess, and that sets her apart from the crowd. I clarified “human” because we can’t forget the ant princesses Atta and Dot from Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. Since we are focusing on human princesses, though, she’s the first of her kind. There’s a bigger issue at hand, however, and Disney execs have to be a bit worried about it…

Merida doesn’t want a man. She isn’t seeking her Prince Charming. She’s fully capable of achieving her happily ever after without a prince by her side. She isn’t waiting in a tower (or a coma) for a magical kiss from a valiant stranger. She isn’t fretting about what to wear to the ball. She’s kicking ass and taking names, actively rebelling against the tradition of a princess needing a prince.

Merida’s rejection of the status quo is received by her fictional society/family, and the real world of Disney Princess merchandising. If Merida is not included in the lineup, it may be because she threatens the existence of the current royal hierarchy. Disney has spent billions of dollars making sure small children – girls in particular – want to be just like the Disney Princesses. We typically associate them with fancy gowns, handsome beaus, and a nuclear family inspired “happily ever after”. We tend to expect our princesses to find their one true love, settle down, and ideally produce some sequel worthy offspring in some sort of off-camera immaculate conception. That doesn’t mean we always want that ending – it just happens to be what we’ve come to expect based on past princess precedent.

So how can Merida meet the standards of the Disney Princess lifestyle without a desire for her Prince Charming? Will she be rejected from the lineup amidst whispers of scandal? Will Cinderella suggest that Merida is actually a lesbian? Is Snow White spreading rumors that Merida has been tilting the kilts of every Highlander she can find? Perhaps Ariel will turn her pert little nose up at Merida’s untamed ginger locks and conservative attire. (I love Ariel but you know that broad is jealous of any other redhead – especially one that doesn’t have to flaunt her goodies in a shell bra just to catch a sailor’s eye). Or maybe the whole spread will turn their collective animated backs on her, in a desperate attempt to shield their men from Merida’s oh-so-appealing, single and loving it lifestyle?

The only place we would really see any of that is amidst twisted (in a good way!) fan Tumblr feeds and SNL “Real Housewives of Disney” skits. But Disney Princess fans seem to have embraced Merida, so I don’t foresee any issues there. Part of this is simply because it is fun to lay claim to a certain princess. We do this as little girls, shrieking “I get to be Ariel!!!!” as soon as a game of pretend is proposed.

For some of us, these connections continue well into adulthood. We relate to these characters, or dress up like them, or get tattoos in their image. Disney sells wedding gowns, bridal party attire, and engagement rings inspired by their princesses, for God’s sake. Not everyone wants this, of course, but I’m guessing quite a few readers already have “their” particular princess in mind. Another princess equals another chance for everyone to identify with a unique character. Another costume for a cosplayer to dream up. Another attitude to try on for size. What’s not to like about that?

I do see the potential for vocal objections from Fox “News” et al. You just wait, Obama is going to mention that his girls loved Brave, and the next thing you know, Gretchen Carlson is talking about the liberal war on traditional marriage via Disney movies. Or perhaps it’s a war on American masculinity, or femininity – it’s so hard to keep track of their rants. Maybe Rush Limbaugh will finally fall over the edge and call Merida a slut because she dares to eschew marriage. Wouldn’t that be glorious? I truly can’t wait. It would be an apt sequel to the conservative brouhaha over (fictional) single mother Murphy Brown back in the 90s.

The current Disney Princesses can and will accept Merida, because they’re all controlled by the same hand at the top of their puppet strings. Brave and Merida = money, and as such, they will be brought within the fold. So far the film has surpassed box office expectations, particularly in terms of male viewership. There was a fair amount of concern that boys would reject a film of this nature, but the numbers indicate otherwise so far. I’m glad to hear that! It seems silly to suggest that young male media consumers are so constricted by typical gender roles – and so threatened by female protagonists – that they would reject a juggernaut of an animated film altogether. So far this film is a hit among young girls, young boys, and families – the holy trinity of Disney consumers. And that means ample opportunities for merchandising, cross-branding, and cash flow for all things Brave. Disney can easily focus on Merida’s independence and bravery (as well as her royal genes) as justification for inclusion as an official Disney Princess. So, even though she isn’t official as of right this second (1:53 pm on 6/26/12), her park and retail presence is already firmly established:

As for the existing princess procession? They should be used to new additions by now. Beyond that, they should be grateful. Any attention paid to the Disney Princess franchise is attention paid to individual Princesses. It is worth noting that some of them may have faded from public recognition without their inclusion in the official lineup. Aurora’s 5 minutes of fame may well have ended decades ago if not for the Disney machine pumping new life into the character crop every year or two.  One need look only so far as Eilonwy for proof. Oh wait, you don’t know who she is? She’s a royal born princess that has been completely excluded from the official lineup, likely because her movie (The Black Cauldron) didn’t make much money.

After much consideration, I placed Merida in the “Official Princess” section in my Guide to Disney Princesses post. If she isn’t offered a coveted spot among those Disney divas, I will amend the article. (Unless I get Brave and decide that she’s the 11th official princess according to me, and then she will stay right where she is!)

17 thoughts on “Is “Brave” Merida An Official Disney Princess?

  1. I have been a huge Disney – Pixar fan since I was a little kid when John Lasseter made The Brave Little Toaster and got fired from Disney because of it. Then Toy Story came out and changed the world (and no that is not an exaggeration as anyone from my field will know). I have seen them on the precipice of falling into the abbiss and then rescued by, Steve Jobs. I have so much respect for that man. He saw the brilliance of John Lasseter’s vision and gave millions upon millions of dollars year after year with out getting anything back. He believed that they could make their dreams come true and in turn do the same for us. I have been in this field for years and we learn very quick to support those that support us back. Steve Jobs with his connections with Apple supported Pixar during their most tough time and even though Apple is at its hight of economic profit I still support them because the basic principles that hold up our profession live in them. Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Chapman all spear headed by John Lasseter have given us another great step in a already star spangled history of characters. This time they gave us a princess, the Princess of Dunbrough, Merida. Many have asked wether she should be added to the list of Disney princesses. I say no because she is not Disney, she is a member of the Pixar family. Let this be another stepping stone for this great company to build upon instead of just adding another name to a list. Merida is Pixar’s first princess and like so many other things that they do she also has turned on our hearts. Fiery and independent, she goes through heartache, heartbreak, struggles and in the end she finds her true place; with her family. Disney and Pixar have had their struggles but ever since the begging when John Lasseter realized that you could make a living by creating cartoons he dreamed of being a part of Disney’s family in his own way. He was brave. Family is important and Pixar has just added an amazing young lass to their family of characters. Give them someone to fight for just like Steve Jobs saw something worth fighting for in Pixar. Give them their, Princess.

    1. I really enjoyed your perspective on this, thank you for commenting! I totally get what you’re saying and I do think there are merits to her staying as the first in (hopefully) a long line of Pixar princesses. Buuuut I am also assuming that Disney will do what Disney does best and appropriate her for their parks and merchandise, which I imagine will be both a benefit to Pixar and a drawback. I’m very intrigued to see what happens – please let me know if you score any info :)

      Sent from my iPhone

      1. That is precisely the point I was trying to make about Disney and Pixar. :) Despite what the article I just wrote sais (it being mainly a persuasive article after all) I truly believe that Merida will end up being shared between the two companies because she has inherent traits prized by both. However AND this is very important because she is still by birth a member of the Pixar family. I believe that Disney should respect that even if she is added to the lineup of Disney princesses. On another note and this is in regards to your request for more information. I have read several articles from many different sources and the one reacquiring theme that I see is that Merida is being credited as a Pixar creation (which I must say makes me ecstatic). Also a description I see popping up a lot is things along the lines of these, “Merida from “Brave” is not your typical Disney princess. “. Things like that are the exact reason I wrote my article. Coincidentally the answer to this very obvious statement lies within most if not all of there posts. Merida is a Pixar creation not a Disney one. Finally I would like to bring up something you said midway in your comment concerning Disney appropriating her for their parks and merchandise. In the past when Toy Story 2 came out and Disney finalized their partnership with Pixar giving each company 50/50 profits Disney had already been producing merchandise and exporting Pixar movie characters (Toy Story and A Bugs Life) to their theme parks with Pixar hardly getting any of the profits. With that being said there IS a reason Pixar has not gone off on its own and that reason is simple. Disney is a marketing power house. Two out of three people have heard of the name. That is why Disney has been allowed to turn her, Merida, into whatever they want as far as merchandise and theme parks go. They know how to make money. In conclusion we should be afraid that people will see the Disney label on Merida’s box and draw the same conclusion that many did for the longest time with Toy Story and A Bugs Life. Mistaking them as Disney creations.

        1. Hopefully Merida’s distinctive style will make it obvious that she is a special Pixar princess among the crowd. I still think she will be included in the Disney lineup, because she has a lot to offer. It would be a great way for Disney and Pixar to expand their brands, individually and together! Time will tell I suppose.

  2. Right now, I consider there to be ten and a half princesses, with Merida being the half. Not official yet, but might as well be.
    Theres apparently another princess in the making from Disney’s Frozen. >:)

    1. I think 10.5 makes sense, or maybe 11 with Princess Sofia as the other .5. I’m quite impatient to find out if there will be any shake ups in the official lineup. I also need to research Frozen, thank you for the reminder!

  3. I think Merida should be classified as an official Disney Princess…Why? Because she’s part Disney, and a frikken princess, plus she’s gotten HUGE success with her movie (which is EXTREMELY well-deserved). I that Disney’s Princesses should grow with the social norms. Their old Princesses (ex: Snow White) were the perfect role models for young girls at the time, and now we should be teaching girls to stand up for what they believe in, otherwise we’ll never grow out of the stereotypes and inequalities (ex: unfair pay in North America, which is nothing compared to many other countries) we’re riddled with today. We shouldn’t teach young girls to let things happen to them, but to challenge and control their lives and fates.

    1. I love every single thing you wrote here! Seriously, everything :) These are all great points, and I agree that Merida is the perfect kind of role model for girls (and boys) today.

  4. Is no one going to mention the fact that Merida doesn’t sing? I thing that’s the biggest barrier right now from her becoming official. She only sings one song, and it’s when she’s a child–with her mother–and it’s in Scottish. She has the perfect qualities of a princess regardless of the man because her brothers are such franchise hits in their “wee” bear forms. I think if she sang, she would be a princess for sure.

    1. I don’t really know how essential it is to the princess brand for them to sing. All of the princesses thus far have had songs, yes, but that’s not the only qualifying factor. And many of the unofficial princesses – included in the brand but not the official lineup, so to speak – are given singing roles in follow up DVDs, CDs, etc. It seems silly to me to exclude her just because she doesn’t sing as much, especially since they can give her plenty of singing opportunities in the inevitable straight to DVD sequels, park performances, etc. It is a point that many have focused on, though, so it’s certainly legitimate. I guess it just depends on what the powers that be at Disney decide!

  5. Merida is cool, and she is an actual princess, but I don’t believe she should be coronated as an official Disney Princess because she is Pixar. If she’s added, the company will have to say the “Disney-Pixar Princesses” instead of just Disney. She does not sing or get married like all of the other Princesses- I’m not saying that all girls should sing and get married, but that’s just the traditional criteria for what the legendary Disney Princesses have made for themselves. (They all also have animal friends, even Merida :D) All in all, I don’t believe Merida is Disney Princess material.

    1. Disney Pixar Princess does have a bit of an awkward ring to it, but that’s the kind of obstacle that I think can be overcome. I think that the princesses are always designed to appeal to the mindset of the viewing generation, so it makes sense that Merida doesn’t get married. We’ve seen progressively more independent women from Disney throughout the years, so a single princess is a big step forward. Anything that tells little girls especially that they can be happy 100% on their own gets a thumbs up from me.

      The singing thing is a fair point, but I hope they don’t focus on that small aspect versus all of the good, princessy qualities she does have. Also she does, in the grand tradition of Disney Princesses, have amazing hair. :)

  6. I think that Merida should be a Disney princess because of all the qualities that she possesses she acts like a normal girl that has imperfections instead of the other princesses that are so perfect and sing and dance this is a princess that doesn’t care on how she looks or what people say about her she just does her own thing she also shows girls that relationships between your mom is important in fact all your family yes you may not see eye to eye but I think it was a great idea to have a princess with that kind of problem it will teach girls to listen and understand and parents the same thing so personally I think its fabulous she is a Disney princess and also I think we need princesses of different nationalities

    1. I agree completely! Merida is just the kind of princess that our current culture and society needs. I hope we see more princesses with different cultural backgrounds and nationalities as Disney moves forward.

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