Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2014

Let’s start with the good news. There are 5 children’s movies coming out in 2014 with female protagonists, titled for that female protagonist. This is a record since I started doing the gallery back in 2011. Those movies are:  Legends of Oz Dorothy’s Return, Maleficent, Molly Moon, Annie, and The Pirate Fairy I am super- excited about the first four. I am holding out hope for “Pirate Fairy.” It’s always been challenging for me to get past Tinkerbell’s mini-dress and how she’s always smiling submissively at me when I see her on party napkins or sippy cups. But hey, the movie is called “Pirate Fairy,” meaning that is not an oxymoron, which is a huge leap forward for Disney.

Now, for the bad news. In 2014,18 children’s movies star a male protagonist, that’s more than 3 times as many movies than those starring a female.

There are 2 movies that I’m putting in their own category. For “Rio 2,” I am hoping that birds Jewel and Blu are, in fact, costars. (See how I put her name first?) Here’s imdb’s synopsis: “It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, after they’re hurtled from that magical city to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets the most fearsome adversary of all – his father-in-law.” For “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar,” this is the description from imbdb: “A look at the life of wild lemurs living in Madagascar.”Because the lemur on the poster doesn’t have a pink bow or giant eyelashes, my past experience would lead me to believe it’s a male, but because the movie is about lemurs in nature, I hold out hope here too.

Why is the gender of who stars in a children’s movie important? Because girls make up half of the kid population, yet, when kids go to movies, again and again, they see males front and center, while females get sidelined and marginalized.

Today, when kids go to the movies, they will often see the narrative include a strong female or two, but rarely is she the star. The movie is not about her quest. I call these female characters the “Minority Feisty.” The trope has evolved from the Smurfette principle in that there is often more than one, and she is presented as powerful. But her power, lines, and screen time are carefully and consistently circumscribed to show that she is not as important as the male star. Still, the Minority Feisty is supposed to pacify parents, making them feel that, unlike those sexist films of yesteryear, this movie is contemporary and feminist.

Don’t let the Minority Feisty fool you. “Feisty,” an adjective reviewers will invariably use to describe this strong female, is a sexist term. “Feisty” isn’t used to describe not someone who is truly powerful, but someone who plays at being powerful. Would you ever call Superman fesity? How would he feel if you did?

All children need to see more female protagonists. Everyone is the hero of her own life. Kids shouldn’t be trained to see girls and women stuck in supporting roles. In the imaginary world, anything is possible, so why is it sexist? Why is a brand new generation learning it’s normal for girls to go missing?

Here’s the gallery.

Legends of Oz, Dorothy’s Return




The Pirate Fairy


Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist (no poster yet, making my own with this pic)

molly moon 1

Annie (no poster yet, making my own)


The Nut Job


The Lego Movie


The Muppet Movie (Kermit is clearly, the star. There are even two of him in this movie.)




The Adventurer Curse of the Midas Box


Mr. Peabody and Sherman


Night at the Museum Battle of the Smithsonian




Helium Harvey




Alexander and The Terrible Horrible Not Very Good Day


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Planes Fire and Rescue, where Dusty, the plane who mocked slower flyers as “ladies,” is once again the protagonist.


Heaven is for Real


The Wind Rises


How To Train Your Dragon 2. No poster yet, but Hiccup is, once again, the protagonist.

Hobbit. No poster yet, but clearly, Bilbo will remain the protag.


Dolphin Tale 2. No official poster yet, but here’s the synopsis from imdb: “The sequel to the 2011 film based on a true story of a boy’s efforts to save an injured dolphin.”


Rio 2


Islands of Lemurs Madagascar


Update: Though she’s missing from many promotional materials, “Home” will star a female protagonist.

Also, Rio stars a male.


See Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2013

Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2012

Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2011


11 thoughts on “Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2014

  1. Pingback: Gender Balance in Children’s Media

  2. Pingback: Quelques bonnes raisons de ne pas aller voir Le Coq de Saint-Victor | Les Bébés Pigeons

  3. Have you heard of DreamWork’s upcoming 2014 film, Home? It will release later in the year, so there are no posters or trailers yet, but sources and leaked info say it will be about an African American girl saving the Earth from an alien invasion.

  4. “The Wind Rises” is essentially biographical. And I really don’t think it’s just a children’s film, assuming that was what you were listing? So, I don’t think they are going to alter Jiro Horikoshi’s life story as the designer of the World War 2 Japanese “Zero” Fighter plane too much for the purposes of equalization. As for The Hobbit, Tolkien is long dead, so there’s really no one to take this up with. He wrote an amazing series of books so that’s something, at least?

    I think part of the issue is that there’s not enough people writing good narratives starring women. So perhaps that would effect some change, if there were more women writing books for young girls? Talented authors like Tamora Pierce are a great example.

    • Glad someone made that point. My problem with the list is that the many sequels or remakes are of course going to continue to use their main character which in these cases just happen to be male. The problem comes from the lack of popular, original stories with women protagonists not focused ONLY on love or sex.

      • A lot of Hayao Miyazaki’s other films are very female centric and do not revolve around a male character.. Kiki’s Delivery Service is a great example.. It’s just too bad they don’t get more BIG screen time..

    • Hi Jeffry,

      I haven’t, the craze was before I had kids, but I thought I always heard about a pink girl turtle??? I just checked and you’re right, NO female turtles. WTF? I’ll correct my post by taking out that description of 3 males, 1 female. Thank you for letting me know.


      • I am not a fan nor know much about TNMT, but a quick search leads to a Wikipedia page about the female turtle:

        “Venus was one of the five turtles that were exposed to mutagen in the sewers. When Splinter gathered up all the turtles, he accidentally left Venus behind. Somehow making her way to Chinatown, she was discovered by a shinobi magician called Chung I. Chung I took the turtle with him to China where he raised her as a daughter and named her Mei Pieh Chi. He also trained the turtle in the art of Shinobi.”

  5. Giant sigh… I’m not terribly encouraged by the trailers that have been coming out but I’m holding out hope for Dorothy and Maleficent.

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