Merida Redesign Fallout - Brenda Chapman reacts to character's design change


Source: Yahoo! Movies

Princess Merida was redesigned by Disney prior to her induction into the “Disney Princess” product line.

Among the changes are a more glamorous “set” hairdo, eyeliner, higher cheekbones, a slimmer waist, and a shoulderless dress with glittering trim.

She also stops carrying around her Bow and Arrow.

Brenda Chapman, and a number of fans of “Brave” were put-off by the changes.

“I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida,” Chapman said in a letter to her local newspaper, the Marin Independent Journal.

“When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible!

“Merida was created to break that mould - to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”

The Scottish princess, voiced by Kelly Macdonald in the film, is now among the ‘Disney Princess’ franchise, the merchandising banner which includes various princesses from the Disney films, including the likes of Snow White, Cinderalla, Aurora and more recently Mulan and Rapunzel, as featured in ‘Tangled’.

Could it be that the “redesign” is really down to the limitations of the “Disney Princess” artist?


Her face got funnier. Her proportion got worse. But I like that piece of cloth on her waist.


I have wondered if some of the stuff seen as design changes are just the bland homogenization that whoever the artist for the Disney Princess line usually does.

If you look at the other princesses, they are mostly intact but they are also not that well drawn and lack a lot of their original style and are in some cases way off model even for 2D.

There are obvious and outright design changes but some of it may be unintentional.


Hmmm… The ones who were in more revealing dresses in their original forms are more covered up in the redesign… And the ones who wore more conservative dresses suddenly get all these revealing tops.



The entire concept of “princess role models for girls” kinda makes my stomach turn.


Brave was Brenda Chapman’s precious IP initially so I understand her frustration. I have seen and heard quite a few stories where artists produce a work but the owner/client goes a different way or ignores that original vision. I agree that it is a bit of a let down seeing the typical “girlie” presentation of the character like the other Disney princesses. The original character was meant to provide a unique Disney-esque role favoring stronger traits instead of the typical princes role. There is a clash in the design with the character as she has been defined given how you see her on screen when forced to dress up for her mother.

I don’t know that the marketing design merits such attention to the degree of the petition being signed by so many, I just agree that the transition clashes with the original character’s ethos. Disney originally has presented itself as a guardian or sorts for characters which is why Lucasfilm/arts was willing to let them take them under the wing. They are in the business of managing and milking IP’s as sound as possible so I suppose it’s expected that they would see a target group and hone the product in that direction for revenue. I bet that the girlie brave version sells just fine even though a few may grumble that they ignore the character’s traits.


I dunno she looks kinda gipsy in that dress.


You’d think after Brave they’d be more interested in interesting female leads rather than bland stereotypes.


Bland stereotypes sell well internationally, no personality means no cultural or personality clashes.


What’s funny is compared to the character development in something like ParaNorman, Merida is kind of a bland stereotype, she’s so stereotypically “challenging the stereotype”.

A headstrong tomboy daughter who learns to balance both sides of herself? GROUNDBREAKING. :hmm:

At least she didn’t arbitrarily end up with a prince at the end, or end up needing a bunch of rescuing, she remained capable throughout, I really appreciated that. I suppose that is progress at the Princess Factory.

Even though she was just a regular wife and not a princess, I think Helen Parr is a better character, and could kick all their asses. Even Cowgirl Jessie had more layers. How about princess EVA?


I think the changes are dumb, but that’s their princess formula, they processed her through that formula so they can sell stuff. At least they didn’t give her that typical treatment pre-production. I totally understand Chapman’s disappointment, but what do you expect? Just wait until they roll out the new princess leia.


Doesn’t seem like such a huge change…I actually like it better and I’m not a teenage girl :slight_smile:


It’s Disney. The surprising thing is that anyone is actually surprised by this.

It’s not like there’s no track record at Mauschwitz… it’d be amazing and groundbreaking if they didn’t Borg her into the Collective.

Still, meh. :shrug:


Same here.
Just looks a couple years older, that’s all.

Nothing wrong here.


The cosmetics industry would be very happy to have another customer if she really existed…

Being a father I am often around children on their way to school. My son certainly has been a victim (or made one of his parents) of the corperate franchise that is Disney. But whenever one of these -very often on a little girl’s school bag- there is a little voice in my head that says “poor things-Disney is even tackyer and dumber with the girls!..”
They out grow the merchandise true-but the stigma?

But also from parental experience-its amazing how ‘naturally’ kids fall into these stereo typical appreciations. At five years old my son knows just about every car logo there is on sight. Why?-because he’s gaga about things with wheels and has been since virtually since he was born.
We never forced that on him.


they malibu barbied her to get profits.

reasons like this is why i do not buy stuff from disney for family.


The changes are subtle. I wouldn’t have cared enough to notice if not pointed out. My daughter doesn’t really care about this particular line of toys but it gets into the house every now and then. I think the whole product line is stupid.

Now Lego Friends and Fur-real friends, that’s another story. She loves her animals.

I did like the character Merida, she had a bit of wild animal in her that I appreciated and reminded me nothing of a “princess” in the Disney sense. I can understand Chapman being upset having no control over her creation. Too bad there is little she’ll be able to do about it.

I notice Esmeralda has been chucked from the Princess roster.


The changes are kind of small and subtle that had I not read the article I honestly would have just put them down to just artistic variance.


This is the definition of “much ado about nothing.”


Oh whaaaaat a surprise from Disney…