“Once Upon A Time’s Cinderella: The 5 Best (& 5 Worst) Changes Once Made To Disney Characters”
In Once Upon A Time, Disney characters are turned upside down as they are combined, changed and otherwise adapted to fit the dramatic narrative told. Once is based on many different fairytales and pulls out and reinterprets many aspects of popular characters, mixing Disney vibes, Grimm encounters and a dash of originality to create a unique show.
Here we take a look at some of the Once characters that take influence from Disney’s version and see what the result is. Some of them shine, with the Disney traits firmly in place, while others are changed. Both approaches have their successes and failures. Here we explore the very best changes to Disney characters, alongside the very worst.
10 Best: The Evil Queen Has A Starring Role
We love a good Disney villain and the Evil Queen is one of our favorites, although we always feel she never lived up to her potential. Therefore, it’s fantastic to see her character fleshed out and given not just definition but also her own story arc, character development and a central role in the narrative.
When we’ve seen Disney’s version of her she’s often been quite bland, even in Descendants, which focuses much more on the villains. Regina has a name, a personality, the evil streak she needs and some amazing opportunities to make us despise, love and sympathize with her through the course of Once. No other character is quite as interesting and engaging as she is. Her Disney roots show but she’s become so much more.
9 Worst: Pinocchio Is A Real (Bad) Boy
Pinocchio shows up a couple of times in Once but it is the (mostly) human version, August that we just couldn’t warm to. While Pinocchio as Disney portrays him learns lessons and grows as a person, August on the other hand, well he just doesn’t. Much of his storyline exposes huge flaws in his character that he never seems to recover from them, falling back into bad habits.
We see hints of him turning himself around but his character just doesn’t engage us and he keeps doing things that quite frankly annoy us. The whole point of Pinocchio is that we want him to be a real boy. At least half the time August is on screen we can’t help thinking we prefer the wooden version.
8 Best: Snow White Is An Independent Woman
Disney’s Snow White is a very placid character. She is beautiful, humble and saved by a prince. In contrast, Once‘s Snow is feisty, determined, independent and knows how to use a bow and arrow. She can look after herself and while she adores her prince, she is very much her own person.
We love the fact that iconic elements of Snow White’s Disney story, such as poisoned apples, everlasting love and of course the dwarves, are present but all are twisted to make a modern princess who can protect those she loves, as well as lean on them. Snow is the best of both worlds and we love her for it.
7 Worst: A Cinderella And Rapunzel Mash-Up
Once likes to surprise us and one of the ways it does that is by mashing Cinderella and Rapunzel’s stories together, while a different version of Cinderella also exists. Confused yet? You will be.
Princess Ella is the main Cinderella character and her story arc closely follows the Cinderella story as we know it. She is a great interpretation of her Disney roots, following her known and loved path while Once adds a modern slant to her tale.
The confusion comes in when we look at Rapunzel Tremaine, who is based on Disney’s Cinderella’s stepmother as well as Disney’s Rapunzel, combining the stepsister story arc with that of Mother Gothel and the tower. It’s confusing in places, mashing contrasting and well-known narratives together, and leaves us both annoyed and upset for Rapunzel, who quite frankly deserved better in her representation.
6 Best: Rumplestiltskin’s Beastly Inspiration
Rumplestiltskin is another complex villain and Once really does have the best. While he is mostly based on the fairytale of the same name, he also takes inspiration from both Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and the crocodile in Peter Pan. Finally, he takes the place of the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella’s story.
The different personality traits from the Disney characters merge fantastically with Rumple’s core personality, giving him multiple layers and storylines, including one which follows Beauty and the Beast’s main narrative. The added twists in the tale of Rumple’s romance with Belle add extra intrigue to this amazing character and bring a new dimension to the Beast character as well as that of Belle.
5 Worst: Hercules’ Lacklustre Efforts
Don’t get us wrong we love Hercules but in Once he was underused as a character and his storylines fell flat. While we love that he helped train Snow, and aided her in becoming the skilled huntswoman we love, we can’t help but think he was simply a bit bland.
Ironically his story kicks up a notch after he is killed by Hades, but it’s still a bit rushed and boring. Lots of moral lessons and not as much actual heroism as we expected from the mighty demigod. He shows some of his Disney traits but just doesn’t feel as alive as the Disney version of his character.
Wasted and unevolved, Hercules is an inclusion that feels like he was shoehorned in simply to prop up some holes in other stories.
4 Best: The Snow Queen And Frozen Crossover
Disney’s Frozen is based on the story of The Snow Queen. In Once, these two tales are combined as Elsa meets the Snow Queen, who she discovers is her aunt.
Elsa and Anna’s core narrative plays along similar lines to the movie, kind of picking up a happy ever after from where they left off with Anna about to marry Kristoff. There are rock trolls, mysteries and Hans even makes an appearance as the narrative pans out. The characters remain close to the Disney interpretation, clearly not wanting to deviate too much for their roots, especially since their inclusion came at a time when Frozen fever was in full force.
The Snow Queen’s presence adds to the story as Elsa and Anna are quite faithfully brought to life with a new future and an extra dimension to their characters, as they each face some difficult situations.
3 Worst: Wendy Darling’s Suspended Storyline
Wendy Darling is a wasted character. She seems only to serve to showcase the personalities of both Baelfire and Peter Pan. After she rescues Bael he encourages her not to follow the shadow to Neverland, she does so and stays there for a while, before she returns. After she’s asked to take one of her brothers Bael won’t allow it, instead putting himself forward as a sacrifice.
Wendy goes to save Bael, ends up in prison and her brothers follow, before being forced to do Peter Pan’s bidding in order to keep Wendy safe. The only other thing we discover is that she acquired some pixie dust. We know she’s not a major character in Disney’s Peter Pan but surely she deserves better than a half-baked interpretation that exists only to highlight the men in the story?
2 Best: Mulan And Aurora’s Crossing Narratives
We would never have thought of crossing over the narratives of Mulan from the movie of the same name and Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora, yet Once does it beautifully. Both characters remain mostly faithful to their Disney counterparts, at least to begin with, and Mulan, in particular, stands out on screen. She’s every inch the talented warrior you expect yet also displays compassion.
Both women’s paths cross in unexpected ways and then suddenly they begin to slowly change as their circumstances do and their stories cross over with others, including Emma and Regina.
We love this first part of the tale, as the two women support each other to meet their goals, bonding over their feelings for Prince Philip and their grief at his passing.
1 Worst: Mulan’s Changing Personality And Ending
At the end of the first curse, Mulan begins to change. After falling for Aurora, she runs away to join the Merry Men after she discovers her love is not reciprocated. However, it’s just before the third curse, when her path crosses with Merida’s that we see her again.
At this point Mulan has become cold and uncaring, collecting debts by force. While she does redeem herself, helping both Merida and Ruby, we can’t help but hate the fact she’s left alone at the end of her story. We were totally on board with the whole Aurora/Mulan ship and we’re still salty that it sailed.
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