In the new wave of Disney live action re-imagining of their classic stories, some of the Princes are getting new life, backstory, character, and names! Not all Princes have benefitted from this process. Prince Phillip is kind of a doofus in “Maleficent” and Prince Adam doesn’t really change in any particulars in “Beauty and the Beast”. However, the two oldest princes have become truly swoon worthy.
In ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”, the writers borrow heavily from the Disney canon for their characters and stories. The stories focus on the central family of Snow White and The Prince. Needless to say, due to the nature of episodic story telling, The Prince does more than show up and sing. Given the name David, he becomes a complex character. His relationship with Snow White is believably full of both love and conflict. They disagree. They argue. They work together to keep their family safe and protected. In the end, they rely on each other in good times and bad. This is the ‘true love’ that most of us are looking for. Not someone who just shows up when it is convenient, but someone who is in it for the long haul.
The second Prince who has benefitted from the live action treatment is Prince Charming. In the newest version of “Cinderella”, we learn quite a lot more about the character formerly known as Prince Charming. Kit, is a young man who is not only avoiding marriage, but is avoiding the realities of what it is to be heir to a throne. Through the film we watch him grow and mature into a man who is both willing and able to step into the role of ruler. He refuses to back down from his quest to find the woman he loves and in the end actively takes a part int locating her. But my personal favorite addition: he doesn’t need a glass slipper to tell him who she is. He recognizes Ella immediately as the woman who has captured his heart. It is far and away a better plot. Kit is a much more likeable character because of his flaws and imperfections.
As our society has changed, what we expect from a prince, even a Disney Prince has changed as well. We want them to be well rounded. We want to understand them. We want to know that they are truly committed to a happily ever after. We want more than a pretty face and a good singing voice. Disney is stepping up and giving us the characters we need.