The Nest’s Definitive Disney Princess rankings, part 1

Original+artwork+by+Hailey+Anderson.

Hailey Anderson

Original artwork by Hailey Anderson.

In honor of our favorite dress-up holiday just around the corner, today we are launching an 7-part series on Disney princesses and their definite ranking brought to you by The Nest alumnus and What’s Poppin’ founder, Finn Schuh.

Growing up, I loved Disney movies and TV shows. I would obsess over the strength of the characters and worlds they lived in, and as a child, I really didn’t hate any Disney movies. I thought they were all interesting and enchanting in their own ways by having quirky characters, a good soundtrack, and a satisfying ending.

Obviously, my criteria for Disney movies as a kid has drastically changed over the years, and there are now lots of them that I hate with my entire being.

When I was younger, I was especially obsessed with the Disney princesses, so going back to revisit their movies and realizing they aren’t as magical as I remember is kind of … disheartening … for some of them at least. 

Some of these movies are so disgustingly bad that it just needs to be talked about. On the other hand, some of them are still just as amazing as I remember.

For your reading pleasure, I decided to rank all 14 of the Disney Princess movies from worst to best based on the characters, story, and soundtrack in an 8-part series. As a bonus category, I’ll also include how many times I cried during each movie. 

Before I begin, I would like to clarify that this ranking is only going to include the 14 traditional Disney Princess movies. There won’t be any sequels, spin offs, or movies that happen to include princesses like Wreck It Ralph or Atlantis. I guess there could be potential spoilers ahead, but honestly, if you haven’t seen most of these movies yet, that’s your fault. 

14. Pocahontas

It should be no surprise that Pocahontas landed itself at the very bottom of this list.

Aside from how blatantly problematic this movie is for Native American culture and history, the technical issues and story really make the movie very unenjoyable to watch. Disney has always struggled with representing different cultures in appropriate ways, and Pocahontas is no exception. Even more so, it’s just incredibly inaccurate to the original story of Pocahontas by aging her up and having her fall in love with John Smith. 

Everything else about this movie is also utterly horrible. John Smith and Pocahontas are generic characters. There’s really nothing special about Pocahontas, she’s your basic Disney Princess with animal sidekicks who sings and rebels against her father. John Smith is, for some reason, the only white guy without a British accent. The villain, Ratcliffe, is lame and predictable, and his song isn’t even good. 

Honestly the only good song in the movie is ‘Colors of the Wind.’ Watching just that scene is all I want to see in the movie; it captures the essence of what could’ve been a much better movie. 

On to plot. The plot is bland and uses a lot of crutches that make no sense. Like I get that it’s a Disney movie and realism isn’t what they’re going for, but I just think the fact that some leaves blow by and all of a sudden John Smith and Pocahontas can understand each other is completely unbelievable. I can’t get behind it. Also, the tree can talk for some reason, and the movie just kind of glosses over it. There’s no explanation as to why the tree can talk; it just can. The tree is also omnipotent and basically knows everything, so whenever Pocahontas doesn’t know what to do, the tree tells her in a series of vague proverbs and metaphors. 

I’ll admit that the song at the end of the movie, ‘Savages,’ is actually pretty good, and the visual aspects of it are pleasing to look at. However, the way the creators try to play both sides of the field — saying that both the colonizers and the Native Americans are evil — just feels kind of uncomfortable. Like … were the Native Americans supposed to just … welcome the people who were trying to kill them the whole time? 

Anyway, this movie is terrible, and if it’s seriously your favorite, seek help. I didn’t cry at all during this movie because the emotional climax was just not that strong. Overall, I’d give it a 1.5/10 just for ‘Colors of the Wind.’

13. Brave

This movie could have been so much more fantastic. Firstly, it has two strong female protagonists who both represent different types of femininity and power that often disagree with each other. Plus, there are amazing action sequences that put you on the edge of your seat. It’s all set in Scotland with beautiful landscapes and excellent world building. 

But somehow halfway through the movie, it falls apart: The mom turns into a bear, Merida acts like a brat, and the movie is filled with awful, slapstick humor. 

What’s great: 

At the beginning of the movie, Merida is introduced as a rebellious princess who loves archery, horseback riding, and exploration of the land around her to find new challenges to face. She finds power in her own physical strength and enjoys proving that strength to others. She makes it very clear that she’s nothing like her mother and never wants to be. Her mother, Elinor, is a much more regal lady with composure and wit who always strives for — and achieves — perfection. She finds her strength in her composure and communication, acting as the kingdom’s diplomat. 

So we have two protagonists, but no real main antagonist, right? Some might argue that the mother fills that position, but more than anything, she’s being influenced by tradition and societal norms. Society itself acts as its own character, opposing everything that Merida stands for and wants out of life.

Once the competition between suitors comes around, it’s really clear to see the difference in power between Merida and Elinor. We get the scene of Elinor dragging the four clan leaders out of a battle in the middle of the throne room, completely halting the conflict just by walking through it. This proves the power of her presence and the utter respect others have for her because of her importance to the kingdom. This scene also sets up the next one where Merida shows her strength by upstaging her three suitors. The power her mother once held is also disregarded, and as Elinor realizes this, she gets angrier as she goes from approaching Merida to storming towards her. This is carried into the next scene when Merida, still charged from her performance, causes her to destroy something precious to her mother. Elinor storms toward her again, and this time, her showcase of power is effective as Merida cowers before her. Their dynamic is so entertaining to watch, and they’re both well represented. 

BUT THEN THE MOVIE STARTS TO STINK.

Merida goes to a witch to change her mom, which is literally the vaguest request ever. The witch turns HER MOM INTO A BEAR. I honestly don’t know why the witch is obsessed with bears — and the movie basically turns into Brother Bear but with obscure indie music as opposed to music by Phil Collins — a better alternative, but that’s not the point. 

The movie gets a 2/10 for set up, but other than that, it sucks, and I live in a constant state of agony because this movie could have been so good. The ending would’ve been much more emotional if the rest of the movie was actually good. If anything, I cry about this movie out of pure rage.

Check back next week for part two of the Disney princess ranking series!