Hey! Hallie here!
I grew up with Disney movies and fell for most of the Disney princes. I’ve been a romantic ever since I was a kid and I could appreciate most of them for the love and devotion they showed the female leads. Going back to some of these movies, though, there are a lot of love interests I gave too much credit. Many of them lack a personality or show more devotion than they do actual support. Similarly, there are so many love interests I completely ignored as a kid that deserve so much more love. This list is a mix of characters I loved from the first time I saw the movie and characters I needed to be a bit older to truly appreciate. I’m also keeping this list to male characters who aren’t the main character. Considering the fact that women are often portrayed as love interests rather than the main character, I definitely think it’s more important to call to attention the Disney movies that flip the script. Let’s get into it!
5. Flynn Rider. Or Eugene Fitzherbert depending on which you prefer. Eugene is at the top of most people’s lists, so allow me to defend why I put him at the bottom of this list. Eugene doesn’t really get the time to demonstrate what kind of significant other he will be to Rapunzel by the end of the movie. When the movie ends we never really get to see whether or not Eugene is supportive of Rapunzel. Him “supporting” her dream is an obligation for most of the movie that only changes when the adventure is already almost over. That doesn’t ultimately change much that he had said he would do in the first place except he also buys her a few souvenirs. We know he cares about her. He did surprise her with her own lantern which I guess could be a sign of support if you read into the symbolism of that. But that isn’t enough to put him higher on the list. What I will say is that his character arc does put him leagues above many of Disney’s other princes. He goes from caring only about himself to giving his life to protect someone he loves. Even before he dies for Rapunzel, he refuses to take the crown she’s been using as leverage over him to show her that he no longer cares for only himself. There are also cute moments where he pushes her hair away from her face while he’s talking to her, the opposite of Mother Gothel who strokes Rapunzel’s hair as an indication that it’s all she truly cares about. Their relationship is continued in the television series, but let’s be honest, Eugene isn’t exactly the same character in that series.
4. Li Shang. Here’s another enemies to lovers relationship. There are actually quite a lot on this list. The issue with this format is it often devotes too much time to the first stage of the characters relationship which often ends in their romance being explored a bit less than it could have been. Li Shang has one major benefit in this area, though. He knows Mulan for much longer than a few days before he decides to pursue a relationship with her. He’s been training with the Chinese army for months before the climax of the movie. Similar to Eugene, he initially shows support to Mulan because of outside forces rather than because he wants to help her. He’s a General and it’s his job to train all of the soldiers, including Mulan. He does become invested, however, when she begins to prove herself more capable than he expected the entire army to be. Afterwards, he very obviously develops feelings for Mulan. When he still thinks she’s a man. I am absolutely part of the team of people who believe Li Shang is a Bisexual. Anyway. Li Shang feels betrayed when it’s revealed Mulan’s a woman, but her gender doesn’t change his feelings for her. And though he refuses to listen to her at first, once he realizes she is no longer attempting to trick him he is extremely helpful and supportive during her entire plan to protect the emperor. Not only that, but their relationship isn’t forced. He goes after Mulan when she returns home, and the movie ends with her asking him to dinner. Nothing about their relationship is rushed and there’s a very obvious healthy foundation for their relationship in the future.
3. Prince Naveen. Naveen, not unlike most of the other people on this list, doesn’t get along with Tiana at first. He flirts with her as soon as he meets her, but his version of flirting happens to be talking about how great he is. Which isn’t necessarily attractive, especially as a frog. The movie brings up how much of a ladies man he is pretty frequently in the first half of the movie. He talks about how he doesn’t want to settle down because he enjoys partying and leaving broken hearts in his wake. In other words, he isn’t ready for a relationship. At all. That is, until Tiana doesn’t return his affections. He’s willing to brush it off at first, but it actually begins to frustrate him. He starts to pick fights with her for not being his idea of fun, and she immediately retorts with how lazy and careless he can be. Naveen meets his match, and over time he begins to respect Tiana. That respect turns to love when Mama Odie points out how important Tiana is to him. Immediately he decides he can’t marry for money despite the fact that he’s broke. He also decides that he’s going to get a job, or two, or three, to support Tiana’s dream of owning her own restaurant. And then ultimately decides against all of it to get Tiana the money she needs in time for her to afford her restaurant location, essentially dooming himself to a loveless marriage. Naveen goes through a similar character arc as Eugene. He goes from caring only about himself to realizing how important other people can be. But Naveen gets more of a chance to prove that he cares about Tiana’s ambitions just as much as he cares about her well-being, and that is an important distinction.
2. Kristoff. This one is surprising for me because I didn’t like ‘Frozen’ for a long time and I didn’t really enjoy ‘Frozen 2’ when I watched it recently. But I underestimated Kristoff. Kristoff is there to be the cynical voice of reason for the first half of ‘Frozen’. He doesn’t approve of most of Anna’s decisions because he thinks she’s very naïve. He helps her because it’s beneficial to himself just as much as it is to her. However, he forms a genuine friendship with her over time and is concerned for her when her hair begins to turn white. Obviously, everyone can tell that he has feelings for Anna by the time he delivers her to the trolls in the hope that they’ll have a cure for her frozen heart (I won’t mention the song that happened here because it’s not good). But when he hears that her cure is an act of true love, he delivers her to Hans. Despite the fact that he has feelings for Anna. Despite the fact that he doesn’t believe she and Hans can truly be in love because they’ve known each other for a day. He does it because Anna wants him to and he supports her decision. And, once again, their relationship isn’t rushed. While he does rush back to help Anna when he begins to have a bad feeling about the entire situation, she ends up saving herself as an act of sisterly love. Afterwards, they start a slow relationship where they share a very bashful first kiss only at the very end of the movie. Even in ‘Frozen 2’, when Kristoff keeps messing up his proposal and worries that Anna doesn’t care about him anymore, he always offers her his help when she needs it. When she provokes the earth elementals into chasing her he asks what she needs him to do without even knowing what’s going on. He would be in first if there wasn’t a more perfect character here.
1. David. David’s grown in popularity recently and it’s because he deserves it. He’s very obviously interested in Nani from the first scene we see him in. He’s known her for a long time and has been close friends with her, but he’s also very obviously been trying to set up a date with her. However, she’s incredibly busy and over-stressed. She’s only nineteen and she just lost her parents, but she has very little time to worry about that when she’s currently trying to keep custody of Lilo. She’s thrown into a very adult position where she has to find a stable job, do housework, and parent Lilo. Which only becomes a bigger problem when Stitch comes along. David isn’t offended when Nani turns him down. He understand that she’s busy, and he remains encouraged that Nani likes his butt and fancy hair thanks to Lilo. He doesn’t pressure Nani to date him at any point in the movie. He takes Nani and Lilo surfing when he sees that they’re sad and goes to save Stitch’s life despite the fact that he’s barely been acquainted with him. He continues to job search for Nani when she loses her job and eventually finds her one that can help fix her situation. He’s also very good at looking after Lilo. He’s the perfect support for Nani at such a stressful point of her life and he doesn’t expect anything in return. He’s the perfect guy.
That’s my list! As you can see, I definitely favor the guys who care about the female leads dreams and desires just as much as they care about their well being. It’s easy to have a hero who’s willing to put someone’s life above his own. But the guys who focus on a woman’s thoughts and beliefs are absolutely the most impressive to me. I’m definitely looking into doing another list with my least favorite male Disney love interests soon. There are so many bad ones. But, for now, let’s enjoy looking at these good ones and wishing they were real.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!