Modern Versus the Original Disney Princesses — Which Characters Are More Impactful?

Some are sweet and kind, while others are headstrong and brave. Each Disney princess is important and some even paved the way for some of the studios’ newest characters. Which are the most powerful Disney princesses? Here’s what we know about some of the best modern and original Disney princesses

Disney Channel's 'Sofia the First: The Floating Palace'
Disney Channel’s ‘Sofia the First: The Floating Palace’ | Disney Junior via Getty Images

It’s hard to compare the impact of Disney princesses from the 1930s to today 

Debatably, a lot of the original Disney princesses and the “Disney Renaissance” era princesses paved the way for the success of 21st Century films. Could Princess Jasmine have performed “Speechless” in the live-action adaptation of Aladdin if the original animated version wasn’t a success? Could Moana journey to the ocean against her father’s will if Ariel didn’t travel on land against her father’s will?

The same goes for the journey of the protagonist. Characters like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty are often associated with and characterized by their end goals: to marry their Prince Charming and live happily ever after. 

Since the 1930s and 1940s, however, the dreams of Disney princesses have evolved to reflect the changing roles of women and the increased presence of Feminism in pop culture. Mulan puts her family and her country above herself, risking her life to join the military. Rapunzel defies her mother’s wishes to follow her dream and have a small taste of freedom.

In terms of their power, impact, and influence, there are a few Disney princesses who still come out on top. Most of those are princesses from a more modern era of Disney, illustrating their success in box office sales and even Academy Award nominations. 

Elsa from ‘Frozen’

Although she’s not an official Disney princess, Elsa proves her strength and impact with the popularity of Frozen, its merchandise, and its music. She can also shoot ice and snow out of her hands, which is pretty cool. 

Moana from her self-titled film 

The ocean chose her. When Moana’s island has a food shortage, she risks the wrath of her father to journey across the ocean, find the demi-god Maui, and restore the heart of Te Fiti. Aside from the multiple award nominations, Moana is one of the few Disney princesses without a love interest. 

Snow White from ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’

She can talk to animals, can she cook, she can clean, and she can even sing iconic songs like “Whistle While You Work.” Because she’s the first of Disney’s princesses, there’s no denying that Snow White was one of the most important. 

Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’

Released in 1989, this movie kick-started the Disney renaissance, telling the story of one mermaid who dreams of becoming a human. Her perseverance and strength gets her what she wants, but it definitely comes at a price. 

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