WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Raya and the Last Dragon, now playing in theaters and on Disney+.
Since the Disney+ roll out of Raya and the Last Dragon, there have been comparisons made to Mulan, but the similarities extend beyond the films' Asian settings and the story of dynasties clashing. Notably, Raya and Mulan bucked the traditional concept of Disney princesses. Both films cut a more intimidating, warrior-figure as opposed to damsels in distress or women in search of romance, inspiring with a much more action-oriented and feminist edge. With that in mind, let's dissect which title princess is the more badass heroine of the two.
It's pretty tough to pick between Raya and Mulan, considering they're some of the most human yet powerful figures Disney has produced. They share a sense of loyalty to their families, as well as an unyielding duty to protect the worlds they know.
Mulan (Ming-Na Wen), in the 1998 animated version, had to fend off Shan Yu and the Huns after taking her father's place in war after fooling everyone into thinking she's a man. The live-action remake follows suit in terms of sentiment, but this Mulan (Yifei Liu) is way more brutal, cutting down soldiers in a manner that pays tribute to classic Chinese action films. In the live-action film, Mulan signs up for the Imperial army as well, once more pretending to be male, and battles the likes of Xian Lang, a witch and Böri Khan, a Rouran warrior that wants to bring the empire down. But as cutthroat in battle as this Mulan adaptation is, she redeemed Xian, showing she was more than just a fighter; she could reach the hearts and souls of others.
Raya and the Last Dragon's titular character follows in the same vein. While Raya's stance in battle isn't quite as bloody, it's clear she's a pretty remarkable warrior, taught by her dad, the king of Heart in Kumandra, Chief Benja. Unlike Mulan, she doesn't have an army to back her up. Instead, she joins up with a ragtag band of misfits she picks up along her journey in hopes of reuniting the dragon gem and reviving the other dragons with Sisu. Despite limited help, Raya comes out victorious.
Raya's is brilliant with swords, staffs and other weapons and evades rival kingdoms on her own for years. But what gives her the edge over Mulan is trusting Namaari, her enemy, without ever seeing a hint of goodness. The new Mulan always knew Xian had good in her but Raya went in blind and put her weapon down, allowing her archnemesis to save the day with the stone. Overall, it's this epic trust and faith that makes Raya the bigger badass.
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.