Disney, Opinions, TV

‘Tangled’: A Story Whose Legacy Took Six Years to Shine

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Flynn-Rapunzel-Friendship-Faire

“Discovering new dreams…”

“..that’s an adventure, for sure.”

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider make these affirmations at the conclusion of Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, the stage show performed daily in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World. They succinctly summarize what influence Rapunzel and Flynn bring to the production’s proceedings, and in doing so verbalize the primary values behind the appeal of Tangled, the film in which they star and of which is receiving an historic resurgence with a follow-up movie and television series.

When Tangled first debuted in November 2010, it was thematically and technologically a bridge between classic and contemporary Disney animation. Here we had a storybook musical with Alan Menken songs, but told with computer animation and characters who said, “I know, right!” as part of everyday language. While some of these elements might be jarring to a traditionalist, Tangled has stood as a legitimate Disney classic – but it is only just now being recognized as so.

Tangled-Tower

While a sequel is almost a given for successful films today, seven years ago they weren’t the automatic go-to, especially for Walt Disney Animation Studios. When Tangled became a hit, it received the default Disney project at the time: a short film sequel, released in 2012. Tangled Ever After is a feat of physical comedy largely profiling Maximus the horse and Pascal the chameleon as the duo scrambles to save Rapunzel and Flynn’s wedding rings when the ceremony goes awry.

In terms of other types of media, of which Disney has plenty at its disposal, Tangled wasn’t given the focus we might expect from a film of its caliber, meaning, and legacy. It’s not that Disney ever neglected it. The company just didn’t give it the massive attention that it’s given to other titles. Things were always taken somewhere, but stopped halfway. A beautiful area devoted to the film, complete with Rapunzel’s tower and glowing lanterns, was built at Magic Kingdom in 2013… but contained restrooms, not an attraction. A Snuggly Duckling float was unveiled with Festival of Fantasy Parade in 2014… but not a full Tangled parade like many of its ’90s Disney siblings touted. Tangled: The Musical, including new songs by Alan Menken, was created and premiered in 2015… but debuted with a limited audience on one of Disney’s four cruise ships.

You could point to any number of reasons for this. You could theorize the corporation as a whole didn’t understand how to navigate infusing a new property into its many synergy outlets when that property became a hit. (Remember, in 2010 hits had been few and far between.) You could hypothesize Disney was simply too committed to other projects to do anything else with Tangled at the time, and by the time it might have gotten around to it, Frozen arrived on the scene.

Whatever the reason, Tangled never really got its time to shine, which is especially disappointing considering the scope of Tangled and the way its message embodies the very thing Disney stands for: dreams coming true. If we were to pinpoint a story that blatantly screams “Disney” simply because of its emphasis on the power of dreams (and its script’s language explicitly repeating such phrasing), Tangled would be it, if only bested by The Princess and the Frog, curiously released just a year before in 2009. It’s fascinating that two films released consecutively would have virtually the same purpose, yet be told so differently. It’s as if Disney Animation was desperately exclaiming that it was still as rooted in its heritage as ever and braced to bring that history to the next generation.

Tangled-Series
Now, at last, the tide has turned – 2017 is a completely different landscape for Disney than 2010 was. Walt Disney Animation Studios is a creative juggernaut. Disney’s television arms are more interested in legacy characters driving its series and programming. The company is ready to re-introduce us to Tangled in a big way, as the first animated film to be granted a television series since 2006 (which was The Emperor’s New School, spin-off of The Emperor’s New Groove). This isn’t to say that every Disney film without a TV spinoff can’t be qualified as a classic; this is hardly the case. It is, however, noteworthy that the company’s creative output is at a level again that it would want to develop the story further on television.

Tangled: The Series will debut March 24 on Disney Channel, preceded by Tangled: Before Ever After, a new movie that will set the framework for the show. Both are produced by Disney Television Animation. The program takes place between the events of Tangled and Tangled Ever After, and tells of Rapunzel as she steps into becoming the leader of the kingdom she’s just found out she’s the princess of. Yes, her long hair is back, but don’t worry; it’s been promised to be explained. In an exciting jolt for the animation community, the series is created in 2D animation and will have new songs by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater (just like the original Tangled), the first of which can be heard below:

 

Despite being a critical and commercial success immediately, Tangled was an acquired taste for me, perhaps subconsciously if only because Disney itself didn’t push it forward. It wasn’t until I had the privilege of working for Disney last semester under its College Program that the core of its message really clicked. The juxtaposition of “I’ve Got a Dream”, an anthem for the film’s purpose, being performed in front of Cinderella Castle, a global icon of dreams materialized, is difficult subtext to ignore. Aided by my frequent visits to the castle stage to re-watch my favorite show time and time again, Tangled became an important part of my brief tenure with Disney and helped me understand how the company continues to make a difference for families from all over the world …until Olaf skips onto the stage and everyone’s brains oozes from their skulls.

Tangled: Before Ever After premieres March 10 on Disney Channel, followed by the March 24 debut of Tangled: The Series.

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Photographs by Blake Taylor.

What is most important to you about the legacy of Tangled? Do you look forward to the new series?

Edited by: Hannah Wilkes

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About Blake Taylor

Blake graduated Appalachian State University studying Electronic Media Production and is an alumni of the Disney College Program. He is currently a copywriting apprentice at Elevation Church. Blake’s favorite films are Mary Poppins, The Lion King, and Toy Story 3. You can find him on Twitter (@blake_242) and visit his blog at blakeonline.com.

  • I loved Tangled ever since that very first teaser, and it’s so crazy even years now I can be excited for the TV series!! This article really increased my excitement even more!!! Gonna be a complete Disney-fied weekend for me for sure!! :DDD

    • Manuel Orozco

      How so is it going to be Disney-fied weekend?

      • Well with this special coming out tonight and then the BATB soundtrack coming out today as well and listening to that a lot this weekend 🙂

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well lucky you Haley. You know, I wasn’t interested in Tangled since the teaser fooled me into believing I had to know the story of Rapunzel to enjoy it and it was going to be a madcap adventure all around. But after a friend recommended it to me, I ended up liking the movie after all. I’ve waited almost two years for this night to arrive.

          • Sweet!!

          • Manuel Orozco

            I just got done watching Before Ever After almost an hour ago. It was awesome!

          • Ikr!! I mostly loved everything about this!! So siked for the series!!

          • Manuel Orozco

            I’m syked too! It was as good as the original movie. Except I was a little disappointed how Rapunzel’s talk with her father at the end turned out. The bright side is her mom is totally understanding the daughter she has and King Frederick has every positive reason to be so protective of her. But things will take time for things to go civil between Rapunzel and her parents. When our new adventures with her begin to warm up, there may not be lanterns to help Rapunzel out with who she is this time.

          • Agreed, I think they did that so he can have his own arc, which is completely fine and I kinda see where he’s coming from too
            Yeah that was insane with Gothel!! My theory is it might be just a dream maybe, or I don’t know its just a theory
            Guess we’ll have to see how everything goes down as the series goes on, so siked for what will go down!!

          • Manuel Orozco

            I do hope it’s just a dream with Gothel. And I agree about King Frederick and he has every single right to be upset as long as he and Queen Ariana didn’t give up on hoping the day Rapunzel would return. Disney fans like us have been through something like this before with Rapunzel’s fellow princesses.

          • Yeah agreed on Fredrick’s conflict
            I honestly don’t know why Caine would be so angry at Rapunzel, I guess anger’s just taken over her senses and is just looking for someone to blame now, I think they might flesh that more out with the series, which I’m completely open to
            We’ll have to see 🙂

          • Manuel Orozco

            That won’t surprise me since her life was spared.

          • Right

  • Manuel Orozco

    What’s important about Tangled to me is that I was 18 in the summer of 2011 when I rented Tangled on DVD Netflix. It felt symbolic to me since Rapunzel was celebrating her 18th birthday and on the brink of transition into young adulthood. Six years later, the moment I’ve been waiting for her and Eugene to return arrives tonight. And I have to say, the new series couldn’t have come at a better time since Rapunzel needs a little popularity boost after how Disney milked a bit out of Frozen.

  • ValkarieandherInventorChief

    I still just don’t like Mandy Moore, idk her voice just doesn’t remind me of a Disney Princess. Probably because she was a pop singer and I can really hear it in her tone when she sings. I only went to see Tangled because Zachary Levi was in it. I was such a Chuck fan and pretty much that was Tangled’s strongest advertising as I remember it was every other commercial on NBC with Zach talking up the film.
    Flash forward to today, I know this series won’t go as dark as RTTE has, I really hope this story is invested more in plot than just being a cutesy thing. I hope we learn more about Flynn’s past and maybe even a hint if he does have family. As for Rapunzel’s hair, I guess this is not canon as magic golden locks that can’t even be cut with scissors is just… out there. Cautiously optimistic for this series.

    • Manuel Orozco

      Actually the show will be canon since sooner or later, they will reveal how Rapunzel loses her hair’s magic again. By the way, I’ve been a fan of Mandy since her early fame days when I was little. Plus I love her new show This Is Us.

      • ValkarieandherInventorChief

        I guess, hopefully they have given us a resonable excuse as to why her hair came back, why it gets hacked again. As for Mandy, glad you are happy with it I’m more into things like Law and Order SVU and the Chicago trillogy. This is us is too soap opera-y for my tastes.
        I enjoy the dark in shows, probably why I really enjoy Star vs the forces of evil, it can be zany but its also serious at times. And of course Race to the edge had so many wonderful intense moments this time around along with the deaths of some unsavory characters.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well you have your taste in TV and I have in mine. Star Wars Rebels is the only cartoon show I watch right now. But tonight should change that. As for This Is Us, I know it’s a little melodramatic but I find it gripping and emotionally refreshing piece of fine primetime television. I just finished Friends last week on Netflix. About Race to the Edge, I do like the HTTYD movies but I have not been in a fan commitment for the new TV adventures for Hiccup and the gang.

          • ValkarieandherInventorChief

            Oh, man I cannot love Race to the edge anymore than I already do. Love the intensity of it, the well done stories, and its amazing tv-only characters. I really wish Heather and Dagur were cannon with the movies. Sure some people dislike this show for different reasons, but I love it faults and all. The Dragons team really seems to be improving with its writing and knocking it out of the park this season. Hiccup and Astrid actually feel like a well thought out couple instead of just forced together because he’s the male lead and she is the female one. But the season finale was one of the best as it showed just how coniving the Grimborn brothers can truly be since I still can’t figure out who betrayed who. As for This is Us, I’m probably just not the right person for it. I am optimistic about Ducktails even though Hughie, douie, and Louie sound way too old for kids who are probably ten or younger. Love that David Tennant is playing Scrooge especially since I have enjoyed him on RTTE as Spiteout Snotlout’s passive-agressive father. Big hero 6 will be good if it spends less time developing Hiro and more on the team who acted almost like one entity throughout the movie. As a major Kim Possible fan though I bet the writers can do it right.

          • Manuel Orozco

            Well I agree about the new voices for Huey Dewy and Louie. But the voices will take some getting used to. What I want most out of Ducktales is that sense of adventurous nostalgia. Big Hero 6: The Series should be able to develop the rest of the Big Hero team. As for Racers to the Edge, I think I’m going to stick to waiting for HTTYD 3.

          • ValkarieandherInventorChief

            That’s fine, I at least reccomend you watch a bit of it since that’s what I do with all series before calling them quits. Expanding on the other characters is why Dreamworks did the series. It honestly really helps, if well done, as to expand on the lore and other characters. Infact next season we may learn of the other riders parents. I’m a world-builder type person, I love when it gets expanded. I really do hope BH6 series does just that. 🙂 as for Ducktails, just happy to see Donnald really will get some time to shine.

          • Manuel Orozco

            I do hope Big Hero 6 and Tangled do enough world building too. Donald getting more screentime is one condition I’m watching the new Ducktales. Plus I was born 3 years after the original show’s run ended.

    • dlizsehshus

      Ill defend Mandy Moore here. I thought she was perfect for the role and the singing. Alan Menken did use 60s inspired rock music style for the film and Mandy being a former pop singer help her pulled it off. I dont think it would have worked if they use the typical Broadway Actress theyve used in the past films.

      • Manuel Orozco

        I think the 60’s rock style gave the music a refreshingly nostalgic quality.

  • aquapyro

    I saw Tangled on my 18th birthday, 3 years after the the film was released. I saw Frozen in the Theaters after the enjoyment i had with Wreck it Ralph, but my older brother convinced to see Tangled. And wow, that changed my life. And to this day I thank Tangled for making me enjoy Disney movies alot more. Especially for the music. Cause without Tangled, I dont think we would’ve gotten Galavant.

    • Manuel Orozco

      That’s awesome you saw Tangled on your 18th birthday! I actually prefer Wreck It Ralph over Tangled and Frozen.

  • Graham K

    Really enjoyed this article, very well written. Looking forward to the television show

  • Marielle

    Tangled is the movie that got me back into Disney movies. Like most people, I watched Disney movies as a little kid, but then lost interest. When Tangled arrived on video-on-demand, I randomly decided to watch it without knowing anything about it. To my surprise, it was entertaining, funny and beautiful. I started paying more attention to Disney films after that.

    • Manuel Orozco

      You may want to pay attention more because the Big Hero 6 series has got an early season two renewal this morning.

  • dlizsehshus

    Good article. I do think the reason Disney didnt take advantage of the success of Tangled was because this was around the time that Disney really wanted the boy market. That is why they focus more on the Pirate movies, John Carter, Prince of Persia etc. When some of those films bombed they figured out they arent very good at boy movies and Threw Money at Marvel and Lucasfilm to do it for them instead. It took the success of Frozen for Disney to realize hey Women watch movies and they like our films.Go figure.

    • Manuel Orozco

      I’m not going to bother seeing the new Pirates movies. Tangled was just an attempt to capture a gender neutral audience.

      • dlizsehshus

        Yes but I think that unintentionally benefited the movie. Since both Eugene and Rapunzel were equally fleshed out and developed. Which in my opinion made them the best Disney couple since Belle and Beast.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Whatever you say

          • dlizsehshus

            Uh oh i think my opinion just hurt someone’s feelings

          • Manuel Orozco

            No it didn’t I can respect it

          • dlizsehshus

            Lol respect what its only my opinion. No need to act hostile because it’s different from yours

          • Manuel Orozco

            That was not my intention

          • dlizsehshus

            Yeah hence the patronizing tone in your comments. Ill just stop responding now. This seems like a peaceful l site with respectful people commenting . I dont want any part in muddying its waters. Good day.

          • Manuel Orozco

            I’m deeply sorry if you feel offended