Disney and Gender

All Animated Feature Films (Dec 1937- Dec 2019)

 All theatrically released animated Disney feature films (released under Pixar Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, ImageMovers Digital, Skellington Productions, Walt Disney Animation, Walt Disney Television Animation), excluding films that included a lot of live action, straight to video films that had a limited theater or international premier only, shorts, Disney package films, and films not produced by Disney but distributed under the Disney label. 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs December 21, 1937 Snow White
Pinocchio February 7,
1940
Pinocchio
Dumbo October 23,
1941
Dumbo
Bambi August 13,
1942
Bambi
Cinderella February 15, 1950 Cinderella
Alice in Wonderland July 28, 1951 Alice
Peter Pan February 5,
1953
Peter Pan
Lady and the Tramp June 22, 1955 Lady / Tramp
Sleeping Beauty January 29,
1959
Aurora
One Hundred and One Dalmatians January 25,
1961
Pongo
The Sword in the Stone December 25, 1963 Arthur
The Jungle Book October 18,
1967
Mowgli
The Aristocats December 24, 1970 Duchess / Thomas O’Malley
Robin Hood November 8,
1973
Robin Hood
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh March 11,
1977
Winnie the Pooh
The Rescuers June 22, 1977 Bernard / Bianca
The Fox and the Hound July 10, 1981 Tod / Copper
The Black Cauldron July 24, 1985 Taran
The Great Mouse Detective July 2, 1986 Basil
Oliver & Company November 18, 1988 Oliver
The Little Mermaid November 17, 1989 Ariel
DuckTales the Movie August 3,
1990
Scrooge McDuck/Gene
The Rescuers Down Under November 16, 1990 Bernard / Bianca
Beauty and the Beast November 22, 1991 Belle
Aladdin November 25, 1992 Aladdin
The Nightmare Before Christmas October 29,
1993
Jack Skeleton
The Lion King June 24, 1994 Simba
A Goofy Movie April 7, 1995 Goofy / Max
Pocahontas June 23, 1995 Pocahontas
Toy Story November 22, 1995 Woody
James and the Giant Peach April 12,
1996
James
The Hunchback of Notre Dame June 21, 1996 Quasimodo
Hercules June 27, 1997 Hercules
Mulan June 19, 1998 Mulan
A Bug’s Life November 25, 1998 Flik
Doug’s 1st Movie March 26,
1999
Doug
Tarzan June 18, 1999 Tarzan
Toy Story 2 November 24, 1999 Woody
The Tigger Movie February 11,
2000
Tigger
Dinosaur May 19, 2000 Aladar
The Emperor’s New Groove December 15, 2000 Pacha / Kuzco
Recess: School’s Out February 16,
2001
T.J.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire June 15, 2001 Milo
Monsters, Inc. November 2,
2001
James Sullivan
Return to Never Land February 15,
2002
Jane
Lilo & Stitch June 21, 2002 Lilo / Stitch
Treasure Planet November 27, 2002 Jim Hawkins
The Jungle Book 2 February 14,
2003
Mowgli
Piglet’s Big Movie March 21,
2003
Piglet
Finding Nemo May 30, 2003 Marlin
Brother Bear November 1,
2003
Kenai
Teacher’s Pet January 16,
2004
Spot
Home on the Range April 2, 2004 Grace / Maggie / Mrs. Caloway
The Incredibles November 5,
2004
 Mr. Incredible
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie February 11, 2005 Winnie the Pooh
Chicken Little November 4, 2005 Chicken Little
The Wild April 14, 2006 Samson
Cars June 9, 2006 Lightning McQueen
Meet the Robinsons March 30,
2007
Lewis
Ratatouille June 29, 2007 Remy
WALL-E June 27, 2008 Wall-E
Bolt November 28, 2008 Bolt
Up May 29, 2009 Carl
A Christmas Carol  November 6, 2009 Scrooge
The Princess and the Frog December 11, 2009 Tiana
Toy Story 3 June 18, 2010 Woody
Tangled November 24, 2010 Rapunzel
Mars Needs Moms  March 11,
2011
Milo
Cars 2 June 24, 2011 Matar / Lightning McQueen
Winnie the Pooh July 15, 2011 Winnie the Pooh
Brave June 22, 2012 Merida
Frankenweenie October 5,
2012
Victor
Wreck-It Ralph November 2,
2012
Wreck-it Ralph
Monsters University June 21, 2013  Mike Wazowski
Planes August 9,
2013
Dusty
Frozen November 27, 2013 Anna
Planes: Fire & Rescue July 18, 2014 Dusty
Big Hero 6 November 7,
2014
Hiro
Inside Out June 19, 2015 Joy (Riley)
The Good Dinosaur November 25, 2015 Arlo
Zootopia  March 4,
2016
Judy Hopps
Finding DoryJune 7, 2016Dory
MoanaNovember 23, 2016Moana
Cars 3May 23, 2017Lightning McQueen
CocoOctober 20,
2017
Miguel
Incredibles 2June 5, 2018Mr. Incredible/ 
Elastigirl
Ralph Breaks the InternetNovember 21,
2018
Ralph / Vanellope
Toy Story 4June 11, 2019Woody
The Lion KingJuly 19,
2019
Simba
Frozen 2November 7,
2019
Anna / Elsa

Male/Female Co-Protagonists:

 7/89 animated films feature a male and female duo as co-protagonists. This means that 26/89 of the films have a female primary protagonist. That’s 29.21% of all films.

pictures of the seven films from the chart above that feature male/female co-protagonists.

Female Characters

19/89 movies have a sole female protagonist (no male co-protagonist). That’s 21.34% of Disney animated feature films.

Of these 19 films, 13 star a character who is a royal, whose love interest is royalty, or who is actively marketed as part of the Disney Princess line. That is 68.42% of all Disney films staring only female primary protagonists. All of these 13 films feature a woman in her mid teens to early twenties.

Pocahontas, Mulan, and Moana have had coronations and are marketed as part of the Disney Princess line. Pocohontas and Moana are chieftain’s daughters. Mulan is not a princesses in any sense, and follows very few of the fairytale/princess tropes that are common within these films.

When including any Disney film with a female primary protagonists (including those who are co-protagonists to a male main character) 50% of all female characters are royalty or marketed as a princess.

That means that there are only 12 films with a female primary protagonist that isn’t a princesses or marketed as part of the Disney Princess Line, and only 6 films without royals or a male co-protagonist.

image showing 6 movies that star female characters who aren't Princesses.

It’s also worth noting that when looking at all 12 films, the majority of those films star a female animal. There are 4 films staring a human, 5 if we include the human emotion of Inside Out. And only one of those 12 films stars an adult human woman.

Male Characters:

63/89 films star solely male primary protagonists. That is 70.78% of all animated Disney feature films. Including movies with a male and female co-protagonist 78.65% of Disney films star a male primary protagonist.

Out of these 63 films, 11 star a royal or a man whose love interest is royalty (Arthur, Robin Hood, Taran, Aladdin, Jack, Simba, Hercules, Flik, Kuzco, Milo, Simba). That is only 17.46% of all films staring only a male primary protagonist. When including all films with a male primary protagonist (including those with a female co-protagonist) only 15.71% of films feature a royal or a man whose love interest is royalty.

Wikipedia and The Animated Movie Guide by Jerry Beck were refrenced to compile this list. All images owned by Disney.

Final Note: What constitutes a primary protagonist or co-protagonist might be something people will debate. Many films contain strong secondary protagonists. Though Flynn Rider has his own story-arch, he is the supporting character to Rapunzel. I didn’t use the term co-protagonist lightly and looked to which character’s wants, needs, and story took priority.

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