I’ll never forget what I felt when I saw A Wrinkle In Time. As I sat in the theater watching Ava DuVernay’s colorful images flicker across the mammoth movie screen, I would -- every so often -- glance over at the children near me. My eyes were drawn to the black girls. I watched as their wide eyes remained glued to the screen in wonder and awe; they were entranced with the black girl saving the universe. As soon as I walked out of the theater, my first thought was, “Damn, I wish I saw that as a little girl.”
I remembered exactly what it felt like to become fully immersed in a world in the most hypnotizing way. As a self-proclaimed Disney/Pixar stan, growing up with those movies did that for me. In terms of Pixar specifically, my fandom started with its beginning: Toy Story. The moment I saw the vibrancy of the clouds in Andy’s room, I knew I was about to watch something different. The entire concept spoke to me -- what happens to your toys when you leave them alone? Because yes, I most certainly wondered that as a child.
Add the component of a character that looks like you, and you have the perfect recipe for pure childlike magic.
Incredibles is one of Pixar’s most critically-acclaimed achievements. In a world where the studio’s parent, The Walt Disney Company, vomited sequels left and right, fans were left wondering, “Umm, what about Incredibles, though?!” The 14-year anticipation of its sequel was palpable.
One of the most memorable scenes occurred as Frozone (Samuel L. Jackson) frantically searched for his super suit because danger was afoot. His wife, Honey (Kimberly Adair Clark) then uttered one of the most iconic lines in the animation studio’s history, “Greater good? I am your wife! I am the greatest good you’re ever gonna get!”
Brad Bird, writer/director of the Pixar superhero franchise, recently spoke on the popular tertiary character and mentioned why we’ll probably never see her image on-screen.
"She's funnier as a voice," said Bird. "We actually went through all the trouble of designing a character and the design appears in the movie but not as Frozone's wife. We have used her design and she is a hero but there's not a lot of screen time though."
So, time and money was spent designing an animated character, and she ended up being basically background?! It would’ve been dope if Honey’s visual introduction was a huge reveal in the sequel -- hello, memorable moment!
Though I completely get and recognize the comedic device that Bird described, I couldn’t help but wonder, "What if Honey had a face?"
I look back at the time when Dreamworks released Home, starring Rihanna. It was such a huge deal because it was the first time a major Hollywood studio released a 3D animated film starring a black character. Not even a black girl; a black character. Now, as I mentioned before, I am a Pixar stan, and I’m infamously known for dissecting each and every reason why Pixar is the superior studio (my fave has emotional core on lock!), but I had to admit -- Dreamworks secured the black history bag. As I watched the bounce of Tip’s curls and the glow of her brown skin, I was reminded of what I had been missing.
Imagine seeing the headline, “Pixar To Develop Feature Film Starring Black Female Lead Character” today and the internet subsequently losing its shit! This year, we’ve already realized what non-stop major studio black representation tastes like with Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time. We’ve been introduced to a world where black children are witnessing mainstream representation as their new normal. Filmmakers such as Matthew Cherry are pushing those barriers in animation with his short film project, Hair Love, of which Pixar animator Frank Abney serves as executive producer. More of that, please.
Pixar has made other minority milestones, such as its first leading female character in Brave or the brownness of Sanjay’s Super Team and Coco or, most recently, the upcoming Bao, its first short film directed by a woman (which, will star a Chinese character). Still, there is a huge part of me yearning and wistfully hoping that I will see a Pixar-animated kinky curly black girl saving her family / the world / the universe and snatching the audience’s hearts while doing so. One sweet day.
It would’ve meant a lot to the little black girl back then, and it will mean a lot to the black woman who unapologetically steps over your children in line to see the newest Pixar film today.