Disney's newest princess won't have a prince -- and that's really important

MoanaDisneyMoana, left, and demigod Maui, right, are the heroes of the upcoming film ‘Moana.’

A panel at last week’s Comic-Con in San Diego revealed something very exciting about Disney’s upcoming animated film “Moana”: Its princess won’t have a prince. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, when an attendee asked how titular character Moana would be different from previous Disney princesses, co-director John Musker had a simple but powerful response:

“There will be no romance in the movie.”

The film tells the story of Moana, a 16-year-old who sets out on a voyage in the South Pacific to find the demigod Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) in order to save her family from danger. 

 Moana isn’t the first Disney princess without a love interest. Merida, the protagonist in 2012’s “Brave,” bests her suitors in an archery competition so she won’t have to marry any of them. And 2013’s “Frozen” features Elsa, a princess with magical powers who’s too busy belting and building ice castles to do anything as petty as date. 

What makes “Moana” different is the complete absence of romance in the plot. It frees up the protagonist for daring adventures across the ocean, yes, but it also upends the expectation that marriage is the only fate for all female characters. Marriage isn’t the only option for women in real life  — in fact, marriage rates in the US have been steadily declining for decades. So why should marriage be the only option for women in movies?

It’s about time we got Disney princesses who better reflect diverse female experiences. Apparently the panel audience at Comic-Con agrees: When Musker announced the romance-free plot, the whole room burst into applause, according to a vlogger who was in attendance.

“Moana” will hit theatres November 23.

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