ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and Disney's Missing Princess

Updated on April 25, 2017
All images (c) Disney.
All images (c) Disney.

In 2001, Disney tried something new and very different from their past animated movies. A completely different aesthetic dominates this film; the first PG rated animated film from Disney since The Black Cauldron. Unfortunately, like The Black Cauldron, this movie seems to have disappeared into the Disney vault of failures, and I don't think it deserves it. I especially think that Princess Kida deserves to be included in the line of Disney Princesses, more so than some of the others that are on there.

Visual Appeal

The entire look of this movie is completely different. I've heard a few reviewers make comments about it - none favorable - that were completely off the mark. The visual aesthetic of Atlantis is based on the art style and contributions of Mike Mignola. Yes, THAT Mike Mignola, of Hellboy fame! The result is an angular style Disney hasn't attempted since Sleeping Beauty and, as it was then, it was a deliberate aesthetic, not an attempt at cost cutting or time saving, as some have concluded. I find the difference refreshing and interesting, and is a credit to Mignola's awesome artistic talent.

Audio Appeal

Another area Atlantis does well is with its sound. The music and audio special effects are well done. Best of all is the Atlantean language, which was created by Marc Okrand. Who is he? Just the same guy who created Klingon and Vulcan for the Star Trek franchise! That's right; it's not just gibberish the Atlanteans are speaking, but an actual language created for the movie!

The Cast of Characters

Atlantis brings together a wide range of characters, and Disney broke a few barriers that, unfortunately, still exist in movie making. A major side character is half-black, half native, and a well educated doctor. Another is a 16 year old Hispanic girl, who is also their mechanic - and she mentions her sister is a boxing champion. Their Spanish explosives expert is funny as all get out, and is one of my favourite characters. Another is "Cookie", voiced by the late Jim Varney, who died before the film was complete; only a single line from the character had to be voiced by a replacement.

My favourite character of all, however, is the caustic, chain smoking Wilhelmina, the radio operator. She has some of the best throwaway lines of the entire movie, made funnier by their deadpan delivery. If I remember correctly, this is the last time a character was shown smoking in a Disney movie.

The main male protagonist is Milo, voiced by Michael J. Fox. A nerdy linquist stuck working in a museum boiler room, this journey vindicates his grandfather's lifelong search for Atlantis. He is very much the anti-hero; skinny, weak and clumsy. Leonard Nimoy lends his famous voice to King Kashekim Nedakh.

The Storyline

This is an area where the movie has both strong and weak moments. The opening sequence, showing the destruction of Atlantis, is just full of onions. I can't watch it without getting all teared up! The pacing is comparitively poor and parts are quite illogical. There is also a strong similarity to the 1994 Stargate movie that inspired the TV series bearing the same name.

Among the main differences in the story is how it deals with female characters. It has three strong, non-traditional female characters. There is Audrey, the teen mechanic who's tough as nails; Helga, who starts out as the sexy babe in an evening gown but turns out to be a military woman and a badass fighter and, of course, Princess Kida herself. Female characters in Atlantis are not at all typical, yet it's not at all a plot point. As my daughter put it, it's subversion without the fanfare. The women are simply characters, just like men are characters, without the blatant "hey, look! Strong female character here! (who still needs to be rescued by a man, but... well... you know.)"

Princess Kida

Now we come to the primary female protagonist, Princess Kidagakash.

Princess Kida is completely different than pretty much every other Disney princess, and not just because she's covered with blue tattoos. To begin with, it's the male protagonist that leaves his life behind to marry the princess instead of the other way around. Kida was a child in the opening sequence and has grown up with her role as leader of her people and future queen firmly established. She speaks multiple languages and, as her father weakens with age, she does not shirk her leadership role. She recognises that her people and culture are dying, and it is her interest in saving them that motivates her decision to assist Milo and his crew, rather than just killing them off. Yes, she is a warrior, too. Again, it's just part of her character and not a plot point, any more than her tattoos or white hair are.

One thing is clear. Kida does not need any rescuing. Even after being consumed by the Atlantean power source and seemingly captured, she is far from the helpless damsel in distress.

What Went Wrong?

Earlier, I referred to The Black Cauldron, which has its own missing princess in the character Eilonwy. This is a movie that was made during a tumultous time within the Disney corporation, got chopped to pieces in editing until the final release had little to do with how it was originally intended. As a result, it fluttered away and disappeared.

Nothing like that was going on with Atlantis. So why did Kida share Eilonwy's fate?

I think the primary reason is, marketability. Or, should I say, the lack of it.

If you look at the princesses that have made it into the Disney Princess line, you'll note that they're not there for their characters. Rather, they're there for how they show up on a lunch box. Even Mulan is featured in her matchmaker dress, not her armour, or even the clothing she chooses to wear on her own time, and Pocahantas is a horrible charicature that is rather insulting to the real person she is supposed to be based on.

There's nothing about Kida that you can stick glitter on. She has no ball gown to dress her up in. There were a few action figures and books that came out, but that's about it.

I think it's a shame, because Princess Kida would make an awesome role model for girls - and boys, too! She is a character of integrity, loyalty, and a strong leader. Plus, she kicks butt. What's not to like?

As for the movie itself, I recommend viewing it, if for no other reason than to see Disney straying off the beaten path, and to see what might have been. It's well worth it.

And I'm still waiting for my Princess Kida lunch box.

Have you seen Atlantis: The Lost Empire? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)