Screenwriter Allan Heinberg has spoken on how Diana was inspired by Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Audiences can clearly see this through Diana’s persona and Diana and Steve’s first interaction, which is a recreation of Ariel rescuing Eric.
“The story as I see it is The Little Mermaid, specifically Disney’s incarnation,” he says. “This is a woman who has been raised in a very protective, sheltered life, she’s curious about what life is like outside and she wants to have her own experience. She wants to be where the people are.”
For young boys and girls who love the Disney Princesses seeing these parallels adds more to our enjoyment. It connects us back to our childhood heroines and shows just how far we’ve come in portraying Princesses. Disney films have been subverting their own Disney princess tropes a lot lately, but it seems Heinberg and Patty Jenkins have created the ultimate (non) Disney Princess. This list will showcase character traits, relationships, fashion choices that parallel some of our favourite Disney Princesses. I admit that some of these are week connections, but just have some fun! It is Wonder Woman Wednesday, and maybe when you see the film again you will see these connections too!
Let us start with the obvious one. Ariel was a big part of Wonder Woman. Diana rescues Steve Trevor from drowning and brings him to shore. She is immediately mesmerized, and excited to see him. Diana and Ariel both long to leave their respective homes to be apart of man’s world and meet mankind. Diana wants to go further by being the protector of mankind, whereas Ariel simply is curious about a world which is out of her reach.
Jasmine is confined to her palace, sheltered from the outside world. A common trope for Disney Princesses is that they long to be somewhere else, they want to explore and know what the world has to offer. Jasmine and Diana are similar because they long to do more than just be a Princess. Their single parent forbid them from pushing their limits, and grow as individuals. (This also connects Diana & Ariel.) The strongest parallel between Diana and Jasmine is that the both long to fulfil their duties to the world. Jasmine wants to be the best ruler for her Kingdom. Diana wants be the best Amazon for mankind. They are dreamers, but are still grounded in knowing what their responsibilities are as Princesses.
There is one very Pocahontas-like moment in the film, and that is when Diana dives into the water to save Steve. It isn’t the act of saving Steve that links them, it is the image of Diana leaping and diving in, and her wearing the same colours. Diana’s costume during the Themyscira scenes have a striking resemblance to our beloved Native princess. The colouring, the one shoulder piece, and the cut of the dress.
No no no I am not comparing Mother Gothel to Hippolyta. That is a bit extreme. Setting aside the fact that Mother Gothel is evil, from their daughters point of view they overprotective mother’s. They shelter them away from the world, mostly to hide their daughters power from being discovered. Hippolyta behaves like a not-so evil Mother Gothel and King Triton. Her stance against mankind is very much Triton’s thing and her refusal to help mankind in the film indicates that she may stand against Diana in the future. This is one motherly figure to watch our for.
Like many of our Disney princesses, Diana is the only woman in man dominated world. There are characters who are women, but they have little to know impact in the story. Like Snow White, she is just surrounded by men. I honestly don’t see why Diana could’t have one lady friend tag along on her journey, but it is what it is.
Very few Disney Princesses have something urging them to leave their homes. Moana is the recent example of a Disney Princess motivated by a greater purpose. Diana and Moana sail away from their respective islands, with a male companion, in search of something greater than themselves. Most Princesses struggle with just personal growth and expanding the worldview ever so slightly, but Moana and Diana are examples of a princesses striving to do right by their communities and world.
Of all the Disney Princesses Mulan is the only warrior. She, like other Princesses, feel confined and want more than their small worlds. However, war is what pushes them into action. Mulan finds her purpose when the threat of the Huns looms over China, and Diana finds her purpose when the threat of Ares looms over the world. Both are underestimated because of their sex, and both end up succeeding in their missions. Joining them on their journey is a group of men who provide comic relief, and support.
- Diana shares Belle’s love for reading. She has read all 12 volumes of Cleo’s Treatises on Body and Pleasure, that must have been a compelling read for sure.
- Diana & Steve have a Cinderella & Prince Charming moment when Diana goes to the gala wearing a blue dress which captures the attention of Steve Trevor.
- Diana & Steve have a Rapunzel & Flynn Ryder dynamic, because Diana convinces Steve to take her to the war. If Diana had kept Steve’s book from him, the connection to Tangled would be stronger.
In conclusion, Diana shares some of the best traits of our favourite Disney Princesses. The structure of her story, her relationships, and growth mirrors many of our favourite Disney fairytales. Diana longs for adventure, freedom, purpose. She loves with all her heart, she wants to be the perfect daughter, she wants adventure in the great wide somewhere, she wants to go the distance. These are things loved we loved as a child and it is wonderful to see these elements embraced as an adult in a superhero film.
I will gladly say Wonder Woman is my favourite (non)Disney Princess.
Share and comment on what you think of these parallels. Were there any you saw?