Ralph sequel packs a punch with strong female characters
Ralph Breaks the Internet may star an arcade bad guy with powerful hammer-like fists, but the animated sequel is also packing a punch with strong female characters. Sarah Silverman, who returns as the voice of Vanellope von Schweetz, credits Disney for including tougher female roles in the new film, which comes out on Boxing Day.
Her character is one of the leading ladies, along with new cast members Gal Gadot’s Shank and Taraji P. Henson, who plays Yesss.
“I love it,” said Silverman, an outspoken comedian known for advocating for women’s rights. “You see how far Disney has allowed itself to grow and change, and be more inclusive and more progressive? You can’t keep on existing if you don’t change and grow with the times. With me, Taraji and Gal’s character, it’s nice to see.”
Disney has been criticised for a lack of self-sufficient female characters who focused more on their physical appearance and relying on a man. That began to change in films such as Tangled, Brave and Frozen.
With the Ralph sequel, directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore wanted to incorporate more “strong and complicated” female characters.
“This studio is the birthplace of a lot of these stereotypes,” said John C. Reilly, the voice of the massive, overallwearing Ralph. “It’s really an amazing and commendable thing that Disney has recognised . . . . As a man, it’s not really my lane to talk about these issues. But I do think if things are going to change, men and women have to both talk about this stuff and embrace gender equality, and think of women’s rights as humans. I was a strong advocate for balance in our story.”
The sequel is a follow up to the 2012 Oscar-nominated Wreck-it Ralph. This time, Ralph and Vanellope’s friendship is tested after leaving Litwak’s video arcade to travel through a Wi-Fi connection that delivers them into the fast-paced internet. They explore major brands from Twitter to Amazon, online shopping, the dark web and Walt Disney Studio’s website. Johnston said the film’s imaginary of the internet mimics the look of New York City or Tokyo. Ralph and Vanellope meet Gadot’s Shank, a gritty street-racing star, and Henson’s Yesss, the head algorithm of the trendmaking website BuzzzTube.
“It’s like they’re small-town kids who are now in the big city,” said Moore, who directed the first Ralph film and the Academy Award-winning Zootopia. This is a movie about change. I’m glad that we took the more challenging road.”
Ralph Breaks the Internet offers an animated glimpse inside their website showing several characters from Marvel to Star Wars. The film also highlights the Disney princesses where all stereotypes and cliches of the animated icons are dealt with head-on.
Initially, the princess scene faced backlash from fans after a publicity photo surfaced online showing Princess Tiana with lighter skin and a thinner nose compared to the version in the black character’s stand-alone Disney movie, The Princess and the Frog. The studio reanimated the character after meeting with actress Anika Noni Rose, who voiced Tiana in the 2009 film, and Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organisation.
Taraji P Henson, who voices Yesss, is new to the franchise. Vanellope von Schweetz (foreground centre), voiced by Sarah Silverman, with Disney princesses in a scene from
Sarah Silverman and John C Reilly, who voices Ralph.