Princesses may rule Disney movies, but warriors wield their greatest power. They show strength in mind and body as they fight for their whole kingdom or their own individual dreams. And Disney’s women warriors are especially empowering as they challenge and resist traditions and make personal discoveries and also just kick a lot of butt. Here are 10 such characters who are inspiring in their might, starting with Disney’s newest warrior: Meg Murry of A Wrinkle in Time, which comes to theaters on March 9.
Meg Murry (A Wrinkle in Time)
As she embarks on an extraordinary journey to find her father, Meg (Storm Reid) is tested every step of the way. Incredibly intelligent and full of love, this 12-year-old girl is encouraged to be a warrior and face the darkness she encounters as she travels through time and space. Serving the good and the light in the universe, she is the only one who can defeat an evil energy and save her family.
Fa Mulan (Mulan)
Based on a legendary figure from Chinese history, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen) is the most literal warrior among Disney’s heroines. She disguises herself as a boy in order to join the fight against an invading army, becoming one of her side’s most skilled soldiers, as well as a brilliant strategist when the time comes to rescue the Emperor, defeat the enemy and prove herself the equal of any man in every way.
From her perspective, the iconic villain of Disney’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was just protecting her forest home against the threat of a conquering army, but a chain of unfortunate events corrupted her soul and she turned evil as she became consumed with vengeful desires. Before the change, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was a winged warrior, a magnificent fairy who led other magical creatures into battle with every right to defend their land.
Set to inherit the role of village chief and also set in her free-spirited ways, Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho) is determined to do everything she can to save her island while also seeking adventure beyond the edge of the water. Although eventually joined by the demigod Maui, she is mostly a solo warrior in both her self-indulgent and heroic quests.
Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald) has no intention of being a conventional princess. More interested in archery than romance, and dismissive of royal formality and clan traditions, the young Scottish woman would surely feel more comfortable in battle than on a throne. Besides her talents with a bow and arrow, her real strength proves to be how she prevents bloodshed among her clan and family.
Alice Kingsleigh (Alice in Wonderland)
In the live-action version of the Lewis Carroll fantasy, Alice (Mia Wasikowska) doesn’t just passively float through Wonderland all bewildered. Wearing a suit of armor and wielding a massive sword, the strong-willed young woman is tasked with single-handedly fighting and beheading the Jabberwocky as the armies of the White Queen and Red Queen standby ready for battle.
Kida (Atlantis: the Lost Empire)
One of the less-celebrated Disney Princesses, cult favorite Kidagakash Nedakh, or “Kida” (voiced by Cree Summer), is the heir to the throne of Atlantis, thousands of years old, supremely intelligent and quite skilled in combat. As a hunter and a protector, she is a powerful leader, even before she’s revealed to have a special bond with the Heart of Atlantis, which makes her all but invincible.
Elizabeth Swann (The Pirates of the Caribbean)
Although a headstrong woman from the start of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) becomes more and more of a warrior with each installment. She evolves from a damsel in distress governor’s daughter and love interest to empowered pirate, fighting and leading missions alongside her male counterparts with great tenacity.
Judy Hopps (Zootopia)
Proving she’s not just a meek bunny cop, Officer Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) heads to the big city with a warrior’s spirit and attitude in her stance against crime and in her eventual investigation into the whereabouts of missing Zootopia citizens. Mostly just armed with her wits and a bright outlook, she manages to solve the case and take down an evil conspiracy.
Sergeant Calhoun (Wreck-it Ralph)
A more modern warrior, Calhoun (voiced by Jane Lynch) is a heavily armed and hard-edged soldier who resides in a first-person shooter video game. Within “Hero’s Duty,” she leads her troops against a swarm of insectoid aliens and avenges her fiancé while saving the world. Outside of her game, she’s also an essentially tough as nails part of the mission against the evil King Candy.