Encanto’s Mirabel Madrigal breaks a main character tradition of classic Disney animated movies. Directed by the creative minds behind Zootopia, Jared Bush and Byron Howard, Encanto is Disney’s 60th animated offering, making history upon its release. The musical was the highest-grossing animated movie of 2021, despite releasing in the last quarter of the year. Set in the country of Colombia, Encanto gave audiences a look into Latin American culture. Moreover, the film also departs from a Disney character tradition with its lead, Mirabel Madrigal.
When Encanto had its world premiere on November 3, 2021, it immediately garnered positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. The premise of a family blessed with magical powers — save for Mirabel — proved interesting, as it allowed the film to explore family dynamics, and generational pressure and toxicity. Encanto also touched on the beauty of embracing individuality while still remaining a functional team member. Despite having the large extended Madrigal family as its main cast, the animated musical managed to have distinct characters, particularly Mirabel.
Voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, Mirabel is the youngest daughter of Julieta Madriga and the only family member in the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical not blessed with supernatural powers. As it turns out, she also breaks a Disney main character tradition: she is one of the few lead characters — and the first-ever female lead — to wear glasses. Mirabel’s messy black hair and large eyeglasses are largely influenced by Alejandra Espinosa Uribe, the Colombian tourist guide who accompanied Bush, Howard, and Miranda on their research trip and immersion for Encanto. Consequently, her appearance and use of glasses truly set her apart from the other heroines, as no other Disney female lead in an animated canon has ever worn a pair in their films.
A bespectacled lead character in Disney animated movies is a rare occurrence. In fact, the only other Disney main characters to be seen wearing glasses are Lewis from Meet The Robinsons and Ace Cluck from Chicken Little, an adaptation of WWII propaganda. Both are characterized as geeky outcasts, and as seen in Encanto, Mirabel is also ostracized from her family as the only ungifted one. Nevertheless, similar to Lewis’ and Ace’s roles, Mirabel serves as the key force in keeping the magic alive.
Maybe, as Encanto deviates from this well-established tradition, Disney will soon incorporate more main characters wearing eyeglasses. Perhaps, the media giant can even shatter the “nerdy and eccentric” stereotype that comes with it. After all, audiences, especially children, are looking for representation in every film they watch, and that includes the animated classics that Disney is known for. Hopefully, that begins with Encanto‘s Mirabel Madrigal.
NEXT: Everything We Know About Encanto 2
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