It’s no secret that superheroes are all the rage in Hollywood right now, especially at Disney, which has the powerful roster of Marvel characters as well as some Fox assets like Kingsman, Alita, and even Captain Underpants. The Mouse House also produced their own cape and tights epics like the two Pixar Incredibles films, but have they always produced more stealth entries in the superhero genre?
We say yes, and this week Walt Disney Pictures is providing Exhibit A to our affirmation with the enchanting fantasy Encanto (read our review). The new animated film follows a Colombian family called the Madrigals who, after a terrible tragedy, are given a magical candle that grants powers to each of the newborns over three generations. That is, he grants powers to everyone except our main protagonist Mirabel Madrigal (voiced by Stephanie Beatriz), who stands tall and watches her family members flex their super strength (her sister Luisa), their healing powers (her mother Julieta), weather control (her aunt Pepa), psychic ability (her uncle Bruno), communication with animals (little cousin Antonio), improved hearing (cousin Dolores), or the ability to grow beautiful flowers with a wave of the hand (his sister Isabela).
Encanto skillfully follows Mirabel’s journey of self-discovery as she tries to keep her family together when cracks in the magic begin to unfold. While the film has been described since its production announcement in 2016 as having elements of “magical realism,” comic book fans would not be blamed for finding correlations with superheroes like Storm, Professor X, Animal Man, Daredevil or even Poison Ivy. We even got to ask the film’s co-writer / co-director, Charise Castro Smith, about the parallels between Encanto and other superhero properties.
“Funny, people made that comparison,” Smith exclusively told IGN. “From the inside, it’s not like that. From the inside, it looks a lot like the story of a family that looks a lot like mine. A family with a lot of internal pressures and a lot of love. People who can do amazing things, people who have secrets. So yeah, the characters in this movie have superpowers, which is a really cool and interesting element, but I think what excites me the most is the family dynamic and sibling relationships. My own relationship with my grandparents, both, was an important element that I tried to integrate into this story. So of course, yeah, Luisa is totally a superhero!
Disney’s Encanto: Visual Development and Concept Art
Luisa’s super ability to literally transport a church or village bridge may seem like a feat for Superman, but she and the other Madrigals aren’t the only ones in the annals of Disney history who seem to possess traits of Super hero. Here are 10 other films from the studio that would do just fine with being superhero movies …
Superman’s 1978 slogan was “You’ll believe a man can fly.” But what about an elephant? Granted, if you apply the definition of a superhero to anything with extraordinary abilities, pretty much any animal that has ever walked on all fours and spoken in a Disney movie would fall into this category. Yet the character of orphan Dumbo is exceptional even in the film world, as his ability to use his gigantic ears to fly sets him apart from other circus elephants. He doesn’t use this ability to fight crime but to get a Hollywood contract, which is well deserved and probably what a modern flying elephant would do as well.
Peter Pan (1953)
Another character capable of flying is the famous “boy who never grew up”, Peter Pan. JM Barrie’s character in the 1904 play Peter and Wendy ticks all the boxes for Superhero: Sustained Flight? To verify. Colorful tights? To verify. Immortality? To verify. Kid sidekick? Heck, he has his own Lost Boys gang. Fight the bad guys with strange disfigurements? Yes, Captain Hook is definitely qualified. Nice vehicle? Dude has his own flying ship! If you’re in need of a comic book corollary, you can’t look any further than Sprite from Marvel Studios’ recent Eternals, which in the comics is believed to have been Barrie’s inspiration for Peter Pan after Sprite turned off. presented to him one night in 1901.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Like Peter Pan, the title of magical nanny played so memorably by Julie Andrews also has the ability to fly, but also possesses the power of talking with animals, telekinesis, and the manipulation of reality. She’s also pretty good at transporting herself and others to make-believe worlds rendered in glorious 2D animation. You could say that she is “practically perfect in every way”. She even had the most superheroic of things, a sequel, with the return of Mary Poppins in 2018, where Emily Blunt portrayed her.
Bed Buttons and Broom Sleeves (1971)
Another Disney film directed by Robert Stevenson (who also directed Mary Poppins) that featured a combination of live action and animation was Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which was sort of proto-Harry Potter. It stars Angela Lansbury as the good witch Miss Eglantine Price, who uses her magical abilities to fight the Nazis in WWII. She’s a bit like John Constantine if he was a dull woman who adopted war orphans. It is also possible that she became a mystery writer on the coast of Maine later in her life, but this has not been confirmed. The only thing that separates her from Mary Poppins is that she’s a witch-in-training, so many of her spells backfire, but she’s formidable nonetheless.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Based on the traditional fairy tale that was so memorably adapted by Jean Cocteau in 1946 under the title Beauty and the Beast, this classic from the 90s had the distinction of being the first animated feature to be nominated for the Oscar for best film. He follows beautiful bookworm Belle who frees her father by taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner, then falls with a severe case of Stockholm syndrome for the hairy monster who was once a prince before being transformed by a enchanting. This curse transformed him into a Beast, but also gave him enhanced strength, speed, agility, durability, healing, and senses, not to mention a few soft claws and fangs. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby weren’t feeling very creative when it came time to christen Marvel’s own bluish version of the character: Hank McCoy, whose X-Men team nickname is… Beast!
Marvel and DC both have their own take on the Greek mythological hero, and Hercules’ daddy Zeus was even briefly featured in Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017 and 2021 versions). Of course, the Disney version of the super strong hero was more of a full lunkhead of himself than his comic book counterpart, who in recent years has been featured as gay in the Marvel 616 timeline and is dating a certified Guardian of the Galaxy. named Marvel Boy. Still, a guy who mostly rescues damsels in distress and fights monsters looks like a superhero in our book.
This one cheats slightly, as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ creation has its roots in the same early 20th century pulp novels that later inspired comic book superheroes like Batman, The Shadow, and more. The very idea of a wild child raised by monkeys and being an expert hunter with great dexterity immediately brings Wolverine to mind. In many ways, the Wolverine from the movies led a sort of savage existence before being civilized by Professor X, much like Jane Porter civilizes Tarzan.
It is only fitting that Elsa, loosely based on the main character in Hans Christian Anderson’s fable “The Snow Queen”, was initially envisioned by the filmmakers as the film’s direct villain because she has so many similarities to the villain of DC Comics, Mr. Freeze. . Yet she also closely resembles Marvel’s mutant hero Bobby Drake / Iceman in her ability to ward off and manipulate ice and snow into weapons, shields, escape routes, and more. The fact that his uncontrolled abilities turn his kingdom of Arendelle into a true snow pocalypse goes hand in hand with a typical X-Men-style drama, that is, the emotions of a mutant do. that their powers get so out of hand that they end up hurting or nearly hurting a ton of people. Fortunately, Elsa is learning to Let It Go proper, and thereafter Frozen II has largely mastered her abilities.
Like Mirabel d’Encanto, Moana’s title of Polynesian princess may not have much power, but her sidekick on her journey – the shapeshifter demigod of wind and sea and master of the sail named Maui – is certainly admissible. The fact that he’s played enthusiastically by living superhero Dwayne Johnson only adds to that heroic charisma. Maui is also a bit of a selfish shower, but ends up answering the call for heroism in order to restore the heart of the giant goddess Te Fiti, and battles a ton of big sea monsters along the way. The tall one also has immortality and sensitive tattoos which at one point almost brown the lily but who are we to complain? While not an accurate portrayal of the comics, fellow Pacific Islander Maui Jason Momoa certainly looks like Aquaman with his many tattoos and overall heroic reluctance.
Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)
Southeast Asian hero Raya is a girl right after Frank Miller’s heart. She’s a badass, excels in martial arts and melee combat as well as weapons like swords and sticks, and rides a large insect / armadillo creature named Tuk Tuk … just like Miller’s beautiful assassin, Elektra! Okay, maybe Elektra never rode a giant bug, but the similarities are definitely there. Raya is part of the lore of street superheroes where a person’s natural talents and skills more than make up for their lack of standard powers. There’s a magical gem at the center of the story with a certain degree of real power, but it’s really mostly a MacGuffin to take Raya on her hero’s journey.
What other Disney characters are secretly superheroes? Let’s discuss it in the comments!