A new Raya and the Last Dragon trailer dropped recently, giving us a fresh glimpse at Disney Animation Studios' upcoming movie directly inspired by Southeast Asian folklore. In a recent interview, the writers of the movie, Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim, spoke about the importance of the character of Raya for Southeast Asian fans. For Nguyen, the movie presents a new kind of Disney female lead who is less a "princess" and more a "superhero".
"For me, this is the big dream. I know that a lot of people are super excited about Raya being Disney's first Southeast Asian princess. But, for me, it is such a big deal for her to be my kids' new favorite superhero. It is something that I didn't get to see growing up, someone that really represented me, our voice, our culture. And to be able to have that for my children is a blessing that will last way beyond my time here on earth. So, it's an amazing moment to be part of this."
In the past decade, Disney has moved steadily away from its past representations of princesses as helpless victims who need men to save them. Modern Disney princesses like Elsa and Merida are usually the ones doing the saving, and it sounds like Raya is going to continue this new tradition. For Lim, Raya and the Last Dragon is a way to celebrate their Southeast Asian heritage.
"Growing up in Southeast Asia, we're very proud of our culture and our history. But you don't really ever see it on a Hollywood big screen. I had lots of action heroes on screen growing up, but it was like Hong Kong action kung fu. And now, the idea to be part of a Disney movie that can really celebrate everything that's beautiful about our culture and how strong our women are is great. And that Raya's not just an ass-kicker. She's got so much personality. I feel that it's so much of the spirit of a lot of the women I grew up with. And so, I'm very excited for the world to see this too."
The official description for new Disney + premier access release Raya and the Last Dragon can be read below.
"Raya and the Last Dragon" takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it's up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she'll learn that it'll take more than a dragon to save the world-it's going to take trust and teamwork as well."
Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada from a script by Paul Briggs and John Ripa, Raya and the Last Dragon stars Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison, and Ross Butler. The film arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Premiere Access on March 5. This news arrives from ComicBook.com.