With last year’s release of Maleficent, this weekend’s release of Cinderella and the future release of another Beauty and the Beast, Disney has found a viable new market to exploit: live-action princess movies. Traditionally relegated to animated films, the Disney princess fast became public shorthand for any strong female lead, regardless of whether or not they were actually of royal blood. This is, for instance, why Pocahontas (a chief’s daughter in a non-monarchical society) and Mulan (a soldier with no autocratic ties) are commonly granted the title contrary to the nitpickers’ cries against it.
And while it’s true that there has been an over-abundance of animated princesses that have graced the silver screen over the past century, there have been no shortage of live-action counterparts to them. This has been especially true over the past several years, as many now-adults that grew up with the classic Disney films of the 90s prove hungry for more adult depictions of their childhood favorites.
This list is for them: those people who want a somewhat adult counterpart for the strong (specifically noble) female characters who have a very real stake in their own narrative. Although not all – or even most – of these ladies are Disney branded, they undoubtedly fit the bill otherwise.