My Favorite Disney Dads!
Happy Father’s Day everyone! Today we celebrate all of those fathers who have inspired us, taught us, and believed in us. The connection between Disney and dads goes a lot deeper than most people think, and in fact some of the most inspirational and cry-worthy moments in Disney films are those times when those dads share that special moment of understanding love with their daughters and sons. Many of my most cherished Disney moments are those that I’ve shared with my Darling Daughter, so I’ll certainly be the first to shed a tear (okay, LOTS of tears!) whenever these moments play out on the big screen. So join me as I take a special look at some of my favorite Disney dads of all time, and if you have any favorites of your own, please let us know! Without any further ado we’ll kick things off with…
Scott Lang (Ant-Man)
I thought it would be fun to start with an entry from the Marvel Cinematic Universe…but it was hard to figure out just who. Tony Stark and Morgan was my initial choice (I defy you to say “3000” without shedding a tear or two!), but I thought we’d dig a little deeper. Hawkeye was another choice (the scene where he hears his daughter again during his time travel test…but is whisked away before he gets a chance to see her is truly heartbreaking), as was Howard Stark (“That kid’s not even here yet, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.”). In the end though, I thought I’d go with Ant-Man himself, Scott Lang. In his first film, we see that his world revolves around his young daughter Cassie. Scott has made plenty of mistakes along the way to be sure, but his heart was always with his daughter. Fast forward to Endgame, and when Scott escapes the quantum realm (with no idea what has transpired) his first thought is find is daughter. The scene where he frantically searches for her name on the monument to everyone who had blipped (desperately hoping not to find her there) was the occasion of the 14th time I cried during that film. 15 followed shortly, as he finally found her (“you’re so big!”). And who can’t help but love Paul Rudd? (Honorable Crying Moment Mention: One of the last tear-jerking moments in the film, when little Morgan tells Happy she wants a cheeseburger. Just like dad. Yep I’m crying…)
Django (Remy and Emil’s father, and the leader of the rats) has a character arc that just might be the most complex of all the characters in this wonderful film (one of my all-time favorites!). Django initially sees Remy’s actions as selfish and non-sensical (“So you can smell ingredients. So what?”). Even after he shows Remy the exterminator shop, he can’t understand why Remy doesn’t see things the way he does. To Django, the world is an unchanging, cruel place where humans are the enemy. When he sees how much Remy believes in himself, and believes that THEY have the power to decide how the world can be, he finally understands that it’s what’s in your heart that’s most important…not what the world “tells” you to be.
Fa Zhou (Mulan)
OK, it’s no secret that this one my favorite films of all, largely because of the relationship between Mulan and her father. Even before Fa Zhou and Mulan clash over his honorable commitment to protect his family (despite Mulan’s fear that he may never come back), he sees the emotional turmoil that Mulan is going through as she tries to find her place in the world. Who can forget the memorable quote, “My, what beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one’s late. But I’ll bet that when it blooms, it will be the most beautiful of all.” But it’s his reaction to the moment when Mulan presents him with the sword of Shan-Yu that makes my heart explode. “The greatest gift and honor…is having you for a daughter.”
Mr. Incredible (The Incredibles)
This entry might seem a little more light-hearted than the other ones on this list, but don’t be fooled. There is a truly poignant moment that sends my daddy heart a-fluttering. Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible is super strong. Seemingly invincible. There’s nothing that can stop him! But he does have one weakness. Kryptonite? Nope. He’s ticklish? Uh-uh. (Well, to be fair, he might be, but that’s not what I’m talking about!). His weakness is…his family. As he’s about to face off against the Underminer, Helen is ready to step in, but Bob is insistent that no, he has to do this himself. Why? Because he thinks he’s the only one who can? Because he doesn’t think Helen and the kids can handle themselves? No. Because he’s not strong enough. “I can’t lose you again! I can’t. Not again. I’m not strong enough.” As Bob said earlier in the film, “ I’ve been…blind to what I have. So obsessed with being undervalued that I undervalued all of you…You are my greatest adventure. And I almost missed it.”
It wasn’t hard to come up with my favorite Disney dad, and that’s Walt Disney himself. Daddy Daughter time was always important to Walt, and as we famously know, the inspiration for Disneyland came from Walt’s outings to the park with his daughters. “The idea for Disneyland came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always Daddy’s day with the two daughters…I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round…I felt that there should be something built where the parents and the children could have fun together. So that’s how Disneyland started. Well, it took many years…But it all started from a daddy with two daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.” Today, we can all experience the joy of visiting Walt Disney World with our children…and to marvel at the wonder and magic that we see through their eyes. And it’s all thanks to the greatest Disney Dad of all.
When Carl first encounters young Russell, he acts like his curmudgeonly self and is dismayed to find that Russell inadvertently stowed away on his makeshift airship. Over the course of the film, Carl develops a fatherly fondness for the young Wilderness Explorer (and the happy-go-lucky Dug as well). Up is well known for having perhaps the most emotionally wrenching opening sequences of any film, yet it’s one of the final scenes that truly tugs at the heartstrings of dads everywhere. When Russell finally receives his “Assisting the Elderly” merit badge (with only his mother in attendance), Carl unexpectedly shows up to step in for Russell’s father. On top of that, Carl presents him with the most special badge of all; the grape soda badge he got from his future wife Ellie when they were children. Or as Carl says, “The highest honor I can bestow…the Ellie Badge.” I defy you NOT to cry!
So that’s just a small list of my favorite Disney Dads. I could have included so many more (and indeed, I’ll continue adding to this list!), but in the meantime, have a wonderful Father’s Day! I’m off to visit my daughter and as always, it will be the most magical time of all!