A hero is a person or main character of a literary work who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery or strength, often sacrificing his or her own personal concerns for some greater good. A hero is “a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”.
When you think of a Disney hero, perhaps one of the usual suspects pops into your head, you know the guys: the ones who jump into dangerous situations with swords/fists/guns/an entire ship and fight bravely against evil. We’re talking John Smith, Prince Philip, Eric and the like.
Or maybe your first thought goes towards the charming title characters of their personal adventure romp, such as Robin Hood, Hercules, Aladdin or Peter Pan.
Always rooting for the underdog, I wanted to celebrate the less obviously heroic heroes. Here are my Top Ten Unlikely Disney Heroes:
Beast – cursed because he has no love or kindness in his heart, Beast has to learn to love to break the spell. Pretty significant that after all these years we are STILL calling him Beast. It was a lot to overcome! Adam who? He grows and changes as he falls in love with Belle, yet he still lets her go when she needs to help her father, despite the fact that that seemingly totally ruins his chance of being human again.
Flynn Rider – your run-of-the-mill conniving, dishonest, arrogant, thieving rotter. Flynn initially helps Rapunzel purely for his own good, ends up helping her for her own good, has the revelation that treasure and solitude isn’t what he really wants after all and works to fulfil Rapunzel’s dream of being reunited with her parents.
Carl Fredricksen – a cranky, lonely old man. Decides to fly his house to Paradise Falls, as per his late wife’s last request. Accidentally brings Russell. Employs the necessary patience to care for an accidentally-abducted eager boy scout. In the face of danger, Carl chooses to saves his house over saving Kevin, realises his mistake and then uses and loses his house to go and save Kevin, saves Russell, flies home. Sticks around to stay friends with Russell, to support him and occupy the grumpy grandpa role we all love and need in our lives.
Kuzco– vain, selfish, inconsiderate and totally rude. Kuzco discovers how to care for people other than himself, and learns the value of friendship and family. All while stuck as a llama.
Bolt – a small dog who believes himself a hero and goes on a quest to be reunited with his owner. He makes friends, grows, faces uncertainty and has moments so low that he loses all faith in himself, but he pushes through regardless and is there to save the day. Kudos for being brave even when you know you haven’t got super powers. Good boy.
Mulan – the extent of Mulan’s training had been how to walk in ceremonial garb, wear make-up and pour tea. She failed at these things. Despite having less than no experience or training for combat, she puts herself in her father’s place to save him. Cuts hair, joins army, saves China. Boom.
Kenai – impulsive, impatient and vengeful at our first meeting. He is trapped in the body of a bear by people who know better and who also have a fun sense of humour, so that he can learn the lessons only found by walking in somebeardy else’s paws (my husband died laughing at how bad that pun was. I have no choice now but to leave it in so that you can all appreciated my “genius”). Near the end of his journey, Kenai is willing to sacrifice himself to save Koda, and ends up giving up his human form permanently so that he can be a kind, patient, loving bear-bro forever. PS I want to cuddle him. Heroicly.
Wreck-It Ralph – wants to be a hero instead of a villain. This is a good start – we love personal development. Ralph tries to win Hero’s Duty, fails, messes up another game, stays and tries to fix it. Tries to save Vanellope, tries to save Sugar Rush, tries to save Vanellope again by sacrificing himself to fix his mistake. Everything is saved, good job Ralph. Hero status achieved.
Bernard – a mouse! A very small mouse! Bernard is a cautious, superstitious janitor. He has zero training, but still steps up to the plate when asked and goes on a mission to save a little girl from other humans. Even though people are a million times his size! And he goes back for a sequel!
Quasimodo – kind, gentle and trusting. Stays strong and isn’t corrupted in the face of unrelenting emotional abuse from Frollo. Falls in love with Esmeralda, yet supports and respects that she loves somebody else, and even helps the guy, Phoebus, when he is in dire need. No friendzone here, Quasi is just a great guy. Finishes up accepted by the people of Paris, and accepted into this hero hall of fame.