Watching ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’? See these newer Disney movies first
This Friday, Raya and the Last Dragon premieres in theaters and on Disney Plus. Set in a mythical Asian-inspired fantasy world (think Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender), Raya must journey through her land to find the last dragon and restore peace to her ever-warring kingdoms.
But before you venture out to a movie theater or order it on Disney Plus with premiere access, are there any newer Disney movies you should watch first? Although Raya and the Last Dragon isn’t a sequel, prequel, or midquel to anything, it might be worth it to see some newer Disney movies to prepare yourself for Uncle Walt’s take on this new fantasy adventure.
When we say newer, what do we mean? For the purposes of this article, the oldest Disney movie we’re taking a look at is Mulan since this was the first time Disney took on a female Asian protagonist in their canon. Also, while Mulan isn’t a Disney princess (What?! Boo! Though to be fair, she’s part of the Disney princess franchise), Raya is, becoming the first official Asian Disney princess – as in, a member of a royal family.
So before diving in, here are some of Disney’s newer movies you should watch before Friday – whether it’s been a while since you’ve seen them or if it’s the hundredth time you’ve watched them this week.
Mulan was a highlight in the lackluster second half of the Disney Renaissance. And while it’s not newer in the sense that it’s over twenty years old, in terms of the Disney canon, which stretches back to 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it’s one of the newer Disney movies.
Based on a Chinese legend, Mulan tells the story of a young woman who disguises herself as a man to take her father’s place in the emperor’s army. After completing basic training (when you’ll have “I’ll Make A Man Outta You” stuck in your head for the rest of the week), Mulan takes on the invading Huns to save her people.
Like other Disney movies, Mulan is available to stream on Disney Plus.
The Princess and the Frog (2008)
This was Disney’s last 2-D animated movie released in theaters and the last Disney princess movie released in 2-D, too. The movie tells the story of Tiana, a girl who works really, really hard to achieve her dream of owning her own restaurant. However, when an irresponsible prince comes to town and gets turned into a frog, and then gets Tiana turned into a frog, hijinks ensue and Tiana finds herself on the road to breaking a curse.
Check this film out for the sake of it being the last 2-D animated film released by the Mouse. The songs are catchy, specifically the villain song “Friends On The Other Side”, too.
Disney’s first newer take on princess movies, Tangled is a reimagining of Rapunzel. A queen eats a flower while she is pregnant with Rapunzel (retconning the pregnancy cravings angle of the original fairy tale), an evil witch craving immortality kidnaps the princess when she’s a baby and imprisons her in a tower. Why? Because Rapunzel’s long, golden hair contains magic powers, keeping the old witch immortal.
Often compared to Shrek, and sometimes called better than Frozen, Tangled becomes a buddy road trip movie crossed with a rom-com when Flynn Rider comes onto the scene.
Groan. Do we need to tell you to watch this movie? It’s not like you’ve seen it a billion times already. Disney’s princess movie has terrorized you with “Let It Go” for the last seven (almost eight) years. Olaf has been everywhere, everywhere, in Disney merchandising since. Seriously, do we need to tell you to watch this movie?
In case you’ve lived in an enchanted cave for the last eight years (we envy you if you have), this is Disney’s take on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and their last Disney princess movie before Raya and the Last Dragon (and yes, we’re lumping Frozen 2 in here – same princesses).
Elsa has magic ice powers which she’s been conditioned to hide. Her sister Anna wants to marry the first guy she meets, and both sisters have to learn the power of love, forgiveness, and “letting it go”. You’ve probably seen it a million times, but seeing it another time before Raya and the Last Dragon launches might be worth it. No? Moving on.
The soundtrack was the work of Hamilton guru Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. “How Far I’ll Go” nearly eclipsed “Let It Go” with the number of times it was overplayed (and sung nonstop by kids) in households everywhere. Moana tells the story of an ambitious, driven princess who wants to sail the ocean. When her island is threatened with destruction, Moana must set sail to return the Heart of Te Fiti.
To do this, she has to enlist the help of Maui, a trickster god voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. After a quest to get his magical hook back, Moana faces failure, perseverance, and a host of other lessons she must learn to save her people.
Yes, we’re including Pixar, too. Onward delves into a modern fantasy world with highways, fast-food joints, and mythical creatures. The only problem? No one uses magic anymore. So when two brothers stumble on a way to bring their dad back from the dead, they go on an adventure to discover a magic spell to bring their dad back for one more day.
Of course, their loving mom tries to put the breaks on her boys’ shenanigans before they get hurt, and she gets a really cool side adventure where she teams up with a manticore. They both learn to be more adventurous and about the power of family. And yes, this newer “Disney” movie is a tearjerker so bring plenty of tissues to the couch if you stream this on Disney Plus.