If you think Disney has learned a few lessons and will start moving away from trying to make everything a cinematic universe, you will be proven wrong by Wish, the recent Disney animation feature which debuted with Rotten 50% reviews and in third place to the new Hunger Games and even Napoleon, Ridley Scotts middling R-rated historical(ish) epic.
What’s wrong with Wish? Many, many things, including a viral clip that portrayed the central hero as kind of dumb and its villain as kind of right. But the most egregious thing may be how the film ends, probably one of the worst endings to any “classic” Disney animated movie…ever?
Spoilers ahead, but you probably don’t want to see this for yourself.
By the end of the film, we have: Asha wishing on a star which become the literal star that is wished on in Pinocchio. King Magnifico appears to become the magic mirror from Snow White (in addition to Asha’s friends being modeled after the seven dwarves). There are Tangled, Pocahontas, Bambi and Peter Pan cameos or references. There are strong indications that Asha will eventually become the wish-granting fairy godmother.
The directors of the film said they literally put every Disney film on a board and decided which references to throw into the film, which appears to be a majority of movies over the years:
“We talked about making an original story with original songs, making sure that was solid before we added all these layers,” co-director Chris Buck told Business Insider. “But now there’s over a hundred nods.”
And here’s Disney Animation Studios CCO Jenifer Lee, speaking to GamesRadar:
“I think the concept of a Disney multiverse has come up so many times from people, just all the little hints, [like] Rapunzel in Frozen and things like that.”
We have indeed seen subtle threads of connected films before, but the point is that Wish is not subtle at all, and few critics who saw the film were not wild about that concept. While this may not be building to some sort of “Disney Avengers versus Disney Villains” concept in the future, at least certainly not after Wish’s disastrous box office performance, it’s one of the many things that seem to have gone wrong with the film to create this situation.
Wish is yet another example of Disney having an incredibly rough year, just a couple weeks ago having its worst superhero performance with Ms. Marvel, and earlier, having Secret Invasion be its worst Disney Plus show despite an insane budget. It’s unclear when things may start to turn around.
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