Don’t get me wrong, cartoons are wonderful. Animation has a long and beautiful history and is still one of the greatest ways to bring a story to life. As far as I’m concerned, animators deserve to be getting far more credit for their work than they currently do. Have you ever tried creating an animation? It's an art.
Cartoons are what raised me (and most post-war North American kids from the past three generations.) And if we’re being honest here, nothing is better than going on a full weekend-long binge of all of the classic Disney films that made us into the people that we are today. Cartoons just feel like home.
But sometimes we can’t help but wonder what would these characters that we love look like if they found themselves in our world. What would their style be? Which trend would they hold dear to their heart or would they ignore trends altogether? Which ‘80s teen movie style label would they feel most comfortable being addressed by? Would they be a jock? A nerd? An ‘alternative chic’ rebel?
From the dashing Disney princes and bodacious Disney girls to the animals that made us realize what love was, this article will be bringing some of your favorite childhood icons and crushes to life. So grab a copy of your favorite Disney DVD, hop into your Winnie the Pooh pajamas, and get ready to have your heart broken all over again.
I am a little bit ashamed to admit this but it wasn’t until writing this article that I realized that “Zootopia” was a play on the common phrase “Utopia.” I know that you’re laughing at me while you’re reading this but I always just assumed that it was a play on the idea of a metropolis or a similar big city name. But I digress. Though I did love the animal elements of this modern day classic, I have to admit that these human counterparts (created by user s0alaina on DeviantArt) are absolutely adorable.
I do wonder how these human counterparts would alter the story itself.
Since the film uses different species of animals to represent complex racial issues and microaggressions in our modern society, making them human would force the film to bluntly expose the problems in society rather than not so subtly hinting at it.
24 Otherworldly Love
DeviantArtist SketchBagel decided that the best use of their time was to bring the robotic romantic duo from the film Wall-E to life. And I, for one, am glad they did. There is honestly no better use of your time than spending it creating beautiful and imaginative fanart. Though I have only seen the film once, I instantly fell in love with the love between Wall-E and EVE. Can you fall in love with someone else’s relationship? What about a fictional character's relationship? You know what, if aggressively shipping two animated robots is wrong then I don’t want to be right. My favourite thing about this drawings is the outrageously awesome Atlantis vibes it gives off. It feels like a steampunk/cyberpunk reimagining of Atlantis, which I am here for. What a tragically underrated film.
23 A True Devil
The level of detail in this hyper-realistic illustration done by graphic artist Jirka Vinse Jonatan Vaatainen is absolutely insane. Look at the crumbly mascara smudged residue that Cruella’s spider lashes left all around her crinkled eyes. Observe the lipstick smeared on her slightly yellowed teeth.
Look at the way that her face is unnaturally contorted and pulled.
Look at the tightness in her cheeks. Now, there is no shame in plastic surgery and I advocate for everyone’s right to do whatever they so choose to their own bodies; however, the severe way in which her face has been manipulated speaks to her vanity. A woman who has no issue with ending the lives of over a hundred dogs in the name of fashion. The way in which her face is unnaturally contorted speaks to that ideal of looks over humanity. Well done, Jirka. Well done.
22 The Monsters Are Back
Now, this might just be one of the cutest illustrations that I have ever seen. This artist, whose name we couldn't find, really went above and beyond when turning these beloved monsters into members of our own species. However, like Zootopia, the universe of this film falls into terrifying implications when the main characters are turned into humans. The monsters in Monsters Inc. terrify children in their bedrooms in order to harness that scream energy to create an energy source they need to power their entire world.
But what if the monsters were no longer monsters?
If they were humans instead, would that imply that there is one nation of the human world in which power does not exist? Maybe some awful tragedy impacted the nation and capturing children's screams (and later their laughter) was the only viable solution they could find. That sounds more like the plot of a horror movie than a family fun adventure.
21 King Of The Jungle
I need this version of The Lion King (created by DeviantArtist s0alaina) right now. No, actually I needed it 22 or so years ago but since time travel is not a piece of technology I have at my disposal, right now is the next best thing. Imagine those lion-on-lion battles done with two bulky, muscular, enraged men. That would honestly look so cool. I would pay good money to see the final Scar battle reenacted with passionate human actors. But one of the coolest aspects of this piece of artwork is their traditional clothing and body paint.
We need to show our children the beauty that lies in other cultures.
They need to see how gorgeous diversity can be and children need to be given the opportunity to see themselves and their loved ones on screen as well. It’s 2018. It’s time. Well, it was time 22 or so years ago but starting today is the next best thing.
20 A Modern Day Queen
I love revamped cartoon characters, especially when they are being tailored to a different periods trends or styles. Modern Tiana (created by fdasuarez via Instagram) is an absolute work of art that my mortal soul is not worthy to look at. Her hair is pulled back with a few escaped tendrils, in traditional Tiana fashion and her outfit is both trendy and practical. One would not assume that Tiana would pay too much attention to trends, as she hasn’t the time. But that’s not to say that she wouldn’t take pride in the way she looks while also making sure that her outfits are both comfortable and functional.
One of the most striking aspects of this illustration is Tiana’s eyes. Look at the power and the determination behind them. She possesses this raw strength within her that just exudes from her every pore and is concentrated behind those perfectly crafted eyes. There is so much power behind those dark brown irises.
19 Hitchhiking Can Be Deadly
I don’t care what anyone else says, the Eddie Murphy Haunted Mansion film was absolutely phenomenal. A complete masterpiece that needs no changes or alterations at all. However, I genuinely adore this photo from Annie Leibovitz's Image Gallery of Disney Dream Portraits series and welcome any changes to Murphy’s masterpiece that she decides to make. Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and Jason Segel bring new life (excuse the pun) to this ghostly trio and now I will never be able to picture those ghastly hitchhikers without associating them with those famous faces. Now all I need in my life is for those three comedians to sing the “We’ll keep it down” song from the final scene of that Eddie Murphy classic. That one scene would make my life complete.
18 "Do You Suppose She's A Wildflower?"
This Alice is not the little girl who found herself bamboozled by the lucid dreamlike world below our feet. This Alice is a modern teen with wise and steely eyes, a rose embroidered tee, a Starbucks drink, and a visible arm tattoo. Though Alice is usually associated with ‘alt-cult’ idea of girls who are unlike other girls, I really like how this artist's depiction (created by fdasuarez via Instagram) of Alice included stereotypically “basic” elements. There is no need to pit different types of women against each other and there is no need to judge women (or write them off as basic) for liking stereotypical things. This Alice is not here for your misogynistic judgment. This Alice is here to change the world. Dreamers get things done.
17 Oliver's Got Company
Speaking of underrated Disney classics, why does no one that I talk to seem to know about the animated classic that is Oliver’s Company? Unlike the other animal-to-human changes on this list, this seems like the only film that would be relatively unchanged if the animal characters happened to spontaneously change species entirely. Let's take a look at beautiful and expertly crafted film snapshot that DeviantArtist s0alaina has gifted us with.
Now, Oliver is a young, human orphan who is lost in New York and in need of a friend.
He gets taken in by a group of streetwise adults who have found a way to get by in New York despite their precarious financial situation and they end up teaming up together to save a young girl from a mob boss. See? Completely unscathed and with no horrifying implications in sight.
16 The Lost Weasley
I would be willing to debate the fact that the courage, bravery, stubborn, and headstrong attitude that Merida exudes gives her a spot at the head of the Weasley dinner table. She would fit in between Ginny and Molly quite nicely. Look at those wild ginger curls and that calculated determination in her eyes. Not to speak ill of her own family, but Merida might even be happier as a member of the Weasley clan as I can wager that neither Molly nor Arthur would ever push a certain personality or life path on her.
Although I fear for the Weasley boys safety.
As teaming up Merida and Ginny might have world-ending consequences. This modern Merida (created by fdasuarez via Instagram) would be one of the most BAMF Gryffindors of all time. If she stood up against Tom Riddle, I would be willing to wager that he would turn on his heel and run away crying.
15 Paris Holds The Key To My Heart
Before you jump down my throat in the comment section, yes I am aware that Anastasia is not an official Disney film as it is a 20th Century Fox production. However, due to Disney’s recent acquisition of this company, Anastasia is technically owned by Disney now. Which means that Anastasia is now, technically, a Disney princess.
Now that that disclaimer is out of the way, let us sit in awe as we bask in the warm glow of the absolute masterpiece that artist Jirka Vinse has created. As someone who finds themselves both attracted to males and females, I cannot for the life of me figure out which real-life character design I would find myself more attracted to. Do Dimitri's rugged and rough looks drive me wild or is it Anya’s soft yet strong features that call to me?
14 The Warrior We Deserve
Artist Fernanda Suarez (who can be found on Instagram via fdasuarez) has a real knack for creating illustrations that exude this sort of raw strength and centering all of that power in the characters eyes. Her princesses look like they could tear you in two if they so choose. And I don’t know about you but I do not want to ever find myself on Mulan’s bad side. Even though the modern day Mulan might have retired her swords and life ending daggers, this illustration gives off major game-changing bad-butt vibes.
This is a Mulan who could tear you in two with a single look.
And since the Disney girls have each other's backs, I would be willing to wager that if you ticked off Mulan, you’d have to face off with the entire official (and unofficial) Disney princess ensemble. I wish you luck.
13 "He's A Tramp"
Lady and the Tramp was one of my favourite films growing up. Though it does suffer from some racial insensitivity (as it is the product of its time and to deny or overlook that would be ignoring a huge part of American history) it has a genuinely beautiful love story and I’ve always found myself drawn to the Tramp. One of our favourite humanizing artists (s0alaina on DeviantArt) created this ‘real life’ version of Lady and the Tramp from the film of the same name. And yes, 22-year-old me is still just as drawn to this version of the Tramp as six-year-old me was to the animal version. Don’t judge me. Every single person reading this was found themselves crushing on an anthropomorphized Disney character at one point or another. Just look at the way they look at each other. That’s true love, right there.
12 Hooked From The Start
Another glorious shot from the Annie Leibovitz series. Now, I have to say, I have never considered the fact that comedian and moderately controversial public figure Russell Brand might be the perfect Captain Hook. I loved him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and it is always a delight to watch him tear into the personification of evil that is English talk show host Piers Morgan on his personal YouTube channel. But I never considered that he was the perfect man to bring my childhood villains to life.
He’s got over the top nature that Hook is known and loved for.
Just picture Brand screaming for Smee while he smashes his way through the ship in a rage after being confounded by Peter Pan and the lost boys once again. I need this, like now. Disney, if you're reading this: make it happen.
11 The Hunchback Of Notre-DANG
Another piece of art from the Jirka Vinse collection. I am utterly blown away by the way that someone can take a blank sheet of paper and turn it into this magnificent creation that looks, feels, and emotes like a real person. Esmerelda’s fiery spirit and overflowing passion exudes from her eyes. I know I talk a lot about the eyes in these drawings but they are the window to the soul and the artists on this list have done an amazing job conveying emotions through them.
Esmerelda’s eyes convey this seductive yet empowering nature.
She is daring you to look at her. She isn’t posing for your pleasure. She's posing for herself and herself alone. She does not need your approval when she already has her own.
10 21st Century Belle
You can’t even convince Belle to put down her book long enough to pose for your illustration. She even looks annoyed that you’d even suggest that she should even take the time to look up from her book. There is a general air of “Are we done here? This book is amazing and I don’t have time for this.” coming off of this photo. Artist Fernanda Suarez (fdasuarez on Instagram) does a brilliant job of capturing each Princesses individual nature in her illustrations.
This modern Belle is still a bookworm through and through.
She might even have a bookstagram account. She probably stalks fandom forums for her favourite fictional worlds online and subtly cosplays as her favourite characters whenever she has to get dressed up for some event. I'd be willing to be that she even creates her own headcanons, fan theories, and fanfictions when the books she finishes leave something missing at the end.
9 All-American Girl
This entire photo series is one of the most beautiful works of art I’ve ever seen. Imagine having someone turn you into the character that you spent your entire childhood looking up to. This picture is no different. Leibovitz has transformed Jessica Biel into everyone’s favourite controversial figure, Pocahontas.
In this photo, Pocahontas is not displayed as a princess. Because she isn’t one.
She is the daughter of the chief of the tribe she was raised in. She is a brave, real woman, who did not deserve the fate that she got (both real and fictional). And the thing I love about this photo is that she is portrayed as a strong force to be reckoned with. You can see her muscles (a thing which is usually airbrushed out of photos of women) flex as they are being used to carry her body forward. This image exhibits so much strength and power that it is almost intimidating to look at head on.
8 Tom And His Duchess
Though this animal to humanized image (created by s0alaina on DeviantArt) is absolutely gorgeous and expertly crafted, it has some horrifying implications. Like Zootopia and Monsters Inc., The Aristocats comes off as creepy at best and horrifying at worst when its animal heroines and heroes are switched for a set of human counterparts. Let’s review the plot of the film while taking the species switch into consideration, shall we?
First off, we can’t forget the fact that this story includes an attempt on someone's life.
So, let’s picture the main cat family as family friends of the elderly woman in the film rather than her pets. When she passes, she leaves everything to this family. So the woman's butler kidnaps the family, stuffs them in a bag, and throws them in a river hoping that they never resurface. This film would be categorized as a true crime style thriller rather than a film to show your kids.
7 "Darling, It's Better Down Where It's Wetter"
I know that mermaids aren’t technically humans but if we open up this can of worms, I feel like there may be no end to the debate that will follow. Are half-human creatures technically human or animal? Do they get the same rights as human beings? These are the questions that haunt me.
But one thing that truly struck me about this Annie Leibovitz image is the fact that an “older” (by Hollywood standards) actress, Julianne Moore, was used to bring a conventionally beautiful figure to life.
In Hollywood, women over 30 aren’t allowed to be beautiful.
Once you hit 30-35 (depending on your genetics,) you have “aged out” of Hollywood. No longer are you allowed to be a leading lady. You now get to choose between being a bitter villain or being the mother to a 20-year-old fresh-faced actress who is going to take your place. But Leibovitz doesn’t play that way. In her world, anyone can be a princess. And that is important.
6 The Ocean Will Be Fine
Artist Jirka Vinse plays no favourites. He brings to life both hero(ine) and villain alike without discrimination or hesitancy. And there is something special about this image. Look at that raised eyebrow and that sideways grin. Jirka Vinse did more than create a stunningly realistic drawing. He created a drawing that perfectly displays the characters personality itself and conveys Vanessa’s (Ursula’s human form) devious and cruel nature. And it does this without having any background images nor texts to accompany the illustration.
She knows every single one of your weaknesses and she is ready to exploit them.
There’s this cunning nature in this illustration. She is ready to weaponize the upper hand she has on you. And that raised eyebrow is almost daring you to try and stop her.
5 "The Fun Has Arrived"
Oddly enough, it does not seem like the plot of Tarzan would be changed that crazily if the gorillas and elephants suddenly became human beings (as illustrated by s0alaina via DeviantArt.) On the surface that claim sounds absolutely bonkers. How could a film about animals in a jungle interacting with each other come out of a species swap, relatively unscathed? Well, the main plot of the film is that an English woman and her father discover a tribe of gorillas that have never been touched or seen by man (outside of Tarzan). If we swapped out each and every animal character in the film for its human counterpart. We could still have an incredibly similar film. Instead of zoologists, make Jane and her father anthropologists. Instead of gorillas, make them a tribe that lives deep in the jungle that has never had any form of human contact (outside of Tarzan).
4 A Beauty The World Slept On
Now, I have a bone to pick with Sleeping Beauty. If Aurora was only in danger on the night of her sixteenth birthday, why did we keep her in hiding for every single night of her life except for the only night she was in danger? On that fateful night, we brought her to a well-known place that is easy to access and left her to her own, unsupervised, devices.
And then they just knocked everyone unconscious to cover their mistakes.
Luckily, this shot from the Annie Leibovitz Disney collection ignores all that and just captures the moment after true love's kiss awakens Aurora. It’s rare for a posed shot to capture the exact moment in which “happily ever after” begins but I think that Leibovitz does a brilliant job of doing so.
3 Lettuce Rejoice In Her Beauty
In the original version of Rapunzel’s story, her pregnant mom would not rest until she got a bit of the delicious looking lettuce from her neighbours garden. And if you have any sense, you know that there is no talking a pregnant woman out of her cravings. So, like the good husband (and terrible father) that he is, he hops the fence and steals lettuce (which is called Rapunzel.) But ends up exchanging his unborn child for some leafy greens, because why not?
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a moment to appreciate Fernanda Suarez’s (fdasuarez on Instagram) modern version of this lettuce queen. She looks like an all-around sweetheart. The kind of girl that you’d want to be friends with and that you would go to when you needed some advice. She would always put a smile on your face and would spend her free time creating the most beautiful art her friends had ever seen.
2 English Rose Meets Jungle Jane
Is it just me or does this illustration remind you of Natalie Dormer too? I mean, just look at those sweet yet calculating blue eyes and that small yet wise smirk. This girl looks like she knows exactly how and when the world is going to end but she’s not going to share it with anybody. Artist Jirka Vinse decided to dedicate a portion of his limited time on Earth towards bringing one of Disney’s most overlooked heroines to life. Like Kida, Eilonwy, and many others, Jane has found herself constantly ignored by both Disney itself and fans everywhere. Where is the Jane barbies? Where is the Jane merch? Will I ever find a water bottle with the forgotten princesses on it or do they only offer bottles featuring the same 8 girls? So, thank you Jirka, for sending a little love towards one of Disney’s forgotten leads.
1 No One's Prize To Be Won
Though Jasmine was never one of my favourites, no one can deny her power. This girl is a force to be reckoned with. And this illustration (created by fdasuarez on Instagram) conveys that intense and fierce power beautifully. Once again I will implore you to look at the eyes of this piece. Those eyes have appraised you and decided that you are not worth her time.
Sure, she could destroy you in seconds. But you’re not worthy.
There’s confidence in her face but there is also this underlying intensity that commands both attention and respect. She knows that she is gorgeous and she knows that people expect things of her because of that. Her eyes are almost begging you to live up to the expectations she has of you so that she can rip you to shreds and move on with her life.