Disney’s latest animated film, Raya and the Last Dragon, units up a solo hero on a quest to avoid wasting the fantasy world of Komandra from the Druun, a senseless swarm that consumes every thing in its path. Within the very starting of the film, Raya is a lone warrior on a mission to revive the final dragon.
However from the get go, the filmmakers behind Raya meant to subvert the Chosen One narrative.
“She thinks she’s going to awaken a dragon, and the dragon will resolve all of the world’s issues. And the dragon doesn’t. The dragon does one thing rather more profound,” explains screenwriter Adele Lim.
Sisu, the paranormal final dragon of the film’s title, as a substitute conjures up Raya to bond with these she as soon as thought of enemies. The thought of connection and belief fueled the film’s artistic course, and knowledgeable lots of the massive decisions that the filmmakers made — together with the ending, which finally modified to suit the place the story wound up going, Lim and producer Osnat Shurer inform Polygon.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Raya and the Last Dragon]
The Druun that plague Komandra and switch the civilians to stone don’t have any type of agenda. They’re a faceless, senseless entity that seeks to show humanity to ash and might’t be slayed by conventional weapons However they didn’t begin out that manner. Shurer says that within the early phases of the movie the faceless villains have been extra sentient and fightable.
“The extra we thought of it, the extra we dug deeper into the sort of story we needed to inform, we knew it was essential that it’s about people,” Shurer says. “It’s concerning the characters. It’s about Raya versus Namaari. It’s nearly two sides of the identical coin.
The choice to complicate Namaari as a personality — and develop her distinctive relationship with Raya — ended up affecting the Druun themselves. At one level, Namaari managed the Druun and was extra of a conventional Disney villain. However Lim says that after they dove deeper into the character and selected to offer her a connection to Raya, she developed right into a extra nuanced and finally sympathetic character. The extra archetypical evil villain didn’t go well with her story.
Raya and Namaari have a singular relationship for a Disney film. Although Disney villains like Cruella de Vil and Maleficent proceed to be standard, the studio’s more moderen motion pictures have executed away with the standard baddie, discovering extra threatening adversaries in natural forces like in Frozen 2 and Moana or whodunnit twists in Massive Hero 6 and Zootopia. Prior to now, when Disney villains did have current relationships with the protagonists, it was often one with inherently unbalanced energy dynamics, reminiscent of Mom Gothel and Rapunzel of Tangled or Scar and Simba in The Lion King. However Namaari and Raya begin on equal footing as youngsters. As they develop up, they’re much less direct foes and extra dramatic foils.
“They knew one another as youngsters and now view one another as enemies. They’re additionally sort of secretly sort of like drawn intrigued by one another,” says Lim. “It was a really new, thrilling relationship for the entire artistic workforce.”
Reimagining the Druun as an amazing power with out an agenda made them a extra thematically highly effective enemy for Raya and Namaari. Uncannily sufficient, that turned a really well timed power to cope with in 2021.
“We even used to speak about them like a plague,” Shurer says, clarifying that the angle was mentioned “years and years in the past.”
However whereas the specter of the film shifted because the character dynamics developed, there was one main plot level the filmmakers knew must occur from the very starting: Raya wanted to lose Sisu. Certainly, within the film’s climax, Namaari by chance shoots Sisu. The final dragon is gone and the human characters want to determine if they’ll even defend towards the Druun with out the dragon magic that’s protected them this lengthy.
“It subverts Raya’s authentic expectation that Sisu would come and wave a wand and every thing can be alright,” explains Shurer. “The answer is amongst us. We’ve got to study to belief each other and get collectively. We knew that the dragon must be taken out of the image.”
Sisu was all the time going to die, however there was some backwards and forwards on whether or not or not she and the remainder of the dragons would truly return. Director Don Corridor says there was a model the place Sisu was certainly the final dragon, with no risk of the others returning. The filmmakers thought lengthy about whether or not or not the dragons coming again would undermine the movie’s final message. However Shurer pushed for a cheerful ending from the very starting, wanting a giant Disney second that made your “coronary heart sing.” Finally, after a lot backwards and forwards, they determined to embrace the comfortable ending — one thing that truly speaks extra to the cultural ethos of the movie.
“What we have been digging into psychologically is that if we’re the answer, why are we bringing the magical mystical creatures again in?” explains Shurer. “The place the place we arrived is a spot that’s extra related to a extra Southeast Asian and South Asian perspective, which is once we discovered the answer for ourselves that we earned the fitting to manifest the paranormal.”
Raya and the Final Dragon is accessible on Disney Plus Premier Entry.