Saturday, March 30, 2013

March Magic! Heroine's Bracket Round 1

Can you smell the excitement in the room, ladies and gentlemen? Why are the bumps on your arms all goosey? Why are the neckhairs on your... ehm … neck standing on end?

The First March Magic Tournament starts today!

I'm here, you're here, and the heroines are here to rumble, so let's get started.

Our first match:
Ariel vs. Wendy Lady
It's just a match of legends here in the first round.

On the one side, we have Ariel. A mermaid. A princess. A ginger. The lady who started a whole new generation of Princess fans down the path toward wishing for thingamabobs of their very own. What a beautiful voice. What an incredible team of talking fish.

On the other, we have Wendy Lady... The sweet, generous voice of reason in the youthful, immature world of Peter Pan, the terminal boy. Wendy was often the only person to call Peter on his BS, and make him stop being such a jerkface. She even went nose to nose with the vicious and terrifying Captain Hook.

Honestly, though, what it all comes down to is this... Who's the more enduring character? It's hard to argue against Ariel the trailblazer princess of the new golden age of Disney. I literally don't know a single girl around my age who doesn't know every word of Part of Your World. I love Wendy, but let's face it... Even within the confines of Peter Pan, she's not the first female character folks think of.. So the winner here is
Belle vs. Lilo
If I really plan on contending that Lilo could win this, I should probably take a scientific approach, rather than going with my gut, and just simply announcing Belle as the winner. I'd love it if this were a tighter battle, and I do think that Lilo would have a better chance in other match-ups, but Belle is the perfect woman. Super smart, beautiful, brave, honorable, open minded, sweet... I mean... she's incredible. And she sings like a damned dream.

What if she's too perfect? Who can possibly live up to her standard? Maybe it's better to be a little damaged. And sassy. And in love with a very bizarre, blue dog... Like Lilo!

No. ..It's
Lady vs. Jasmine
Lady has a lot going for her. She was based on a real dog. (many think it was Walt's dog, but in fact it was the dog of animator/writer Joe Grant.) She saves the baby from that crazy rat. She also is half of one of the most romantic moments between two dogs ever put on film. Not to mention... Who doesn't love a cocker spaniel?

Jasmine is another beauty of the new guard. Headstrong, idealistic, adventurous. Plus, she has a really cool pet tiger. I love that tiger. Here's the thing, though... Jasmine is the reason for a lot of the action (the kerfuffle in the market, the prince parade, the whole hour-glass thing..), but she's not really a decider in the action. She's a damsel in distress without the glowing personality of say a... Snow White or Cinderella.

I'm actually kind of shocked at even myself, but the winner is
Lady. Because she's a cute puppy and rats are gross.
Cinderella vs. Princess Atta
One of my Twitter followers was pleased I included Princess Atta. I actually find her inclusion a no-brainer. She's very heroic and, I think more importantly, she's the only princess who really has ruling to do. Hopper is a real threat to her people (ants). She makes real choices that affect her people. She even makes mistakes that truly matter.

Cinderella is basically the quintessential Disney Princess. Beautiful, beloved, heartbreaking backstory. Aside from that, I'm not sure I have much to say about her. I feel like it's blasphemy, but I mostly find her boring. Her movie is basically a straight romance, where the true star is the story, and less the stars themselves. I know there's the whole business with the animals all loving her, and the insanely abusive family, but it's not all that interesting.

The winner? Perhaps shockingly...
Princess Atta.
Rapunzel vs. Snow White
I really love Tangled, and I think Rapunzel is a funny, unique character. She's also one of the only characters in this bracket with actual super powers. I just think that at this point, she's not the juggernaut of animated film that Snow White is. Snow White is the Grande Dame of this bracket, and while I don't think her historical importance is going to carry her through every round, but it's gonna get her past Rapunzel. Snow White with her totally obnoxious voice... Wait..

I know that Snow White is like super charming or whatever, and all of the creatures in the forest instantly love her, and the dwarves are entranced and the huntsman sees her beauty, but what does she DO? She runs away and she's kind and treats the special dwarf like he's just a sweet regular guy and got Grumpy to love, and made all of the dwarves cry their dwarfy eyes out, but... I mean... It's kinda boring, too, right?

And there's Rapunzel! She has Flynn Ryder, and a frying pan, and that beautiful lantern festival, and that adorable chameleon, and all of the crazy villains who just fall madly in love with her...

See? This is my personal preference in film making (Tangled is more entertaining to me than Snow White) interfering with my judgment here.
Snow White is the winner. I just can't bring myself to knock out the most important heroine in all of Disneydom in the first round. I just can't.
Merida vs. Vanellope Von Shweetz
I like this match-up, because there's no advantage of history. These ladies starred in movies that came out in the same year and are both part of thee same era of film making styles.

Merida is a fantastic character. She's... ehem.... brave. She's capable. She's got a sharp intellect. She's clever. Vanellope is a dreamer. She's plucky. She's the underdog.

This is such an even match on its face. Both of these ladies are fantastic heroines, so I've gotta base it on how these characters fit into their respective films.

Unfortunately for our Vanilla friend Vanellope, she can't match-up to Merida. Brave is Merida's movie. It's about her. It's about her discovering her own path while also learning to appreciate her place within a certain society. Vanellope is in a movie called “Wreck-it Ralph”, which happens to be about a guy named... Wreck-it Ralph. She's a great supporting character, and she's soooo endearing, but when the match is as close as this one, I have to use something to choose. And I choose
Tiana vs. Alice
I like Alice and all, but she's really not long for this tournament. She's probably only the 50th most memorable or interesting thing about that movie. She makes all kinds of dumb decisions (who stumbles across a bottle found in a hole and thinks “I should totes drink that?”).

On the other side, we have Tiana. She's got a historical value all her own, being the first African American princess. She's the first American princess at all (that I can think of), actually, unless you count Pocahontas. Also, it should absolutely be mentioned that she's a great role model and a great character. She doesn't dream of riches and castles. She simply dreams of opening up a great restaurant. She's a hard worker even.

Lastly... I have this fondness for The Princess and the Frog, because it's just a fantastically drawn, beautifully realized movie that never really gets the attention it deserves..
Tiana is the easy winner.
Aurora vs. Mulan
Maybe I'm biased for the characters from my own childhood and teen years over the ones from the “old days”, but even by the standards of those movies, I'd venture to say that Aurora, or “Sleeping Beauty”, is a pretty poor excuse for a “great character”. She mostly just avoids danger. She meets Phillip, obviously, but let's face it... Sleeping Beauty is a classic because of Maleficent. She's one of the most memorable villains in all of film history. It's difficult to grade a character very high when her most lasting attribute is that she sleeps.

Mulan, on the other hand, is a total badass. She's a feudal princess AND a warrior. She's incredibly beautiful, and yet also capable of credibly passing as a man for most of the movie. She sings great songs, she becomes a Samurai.. She FREAKING SAVES CHINA. Also? She has a dragon. I think we all know at this point after 2 seasons of Game of Thrones that having a dragon or two around gives you some serious cred.
Mulan in a landslide.

So there you have it folks! Round one of the Heroines Bracket is in the books with some surprises emerging.

Our random match-ups for Round 2 are:
Snow White vs Mulan

Ariel vs. Belle

Princess Atta vs. Tiana

Merida vs. Lady
The difference for this round and for every round from here on is that while I'm still going to randomly pair the winners, you get to vote!

The polls open Monday for Round 2.

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