Disney Goes 2D Again, Here’s What We Know

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Mickey Mouse looking scared while driving

Credit: Disney

With the recent media surrounding the upcoming Wish (2023), director Chris Buck and his producers have expressed interest in returning Walt Disney Animation Studios to its hand-drawn roots. Can they really do it?

Asha from Disney's 'Wish' standing in front of a door
Credit: Disney

Although the film doesn’t even officially release until next week, it’s already being met with mixed reviews. With some adoring the water-colored inspired look and others calling it broken and unfinished, the future of the studio could hang in the balance depending on the film’s reception.

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Although there has been a lot of talk from the filmmakers and an outcry for a return to the formula from fans, it might not happen the way they’re hoping for. As marvelous as it would be to see Disney return to the artistry that made the studio a household name, it comes with a few strings attached.

Walt Disney Animation Gets Back to Basics

Chris Buck of Disney Animation in front of Wish art
Credit: Inside the Magic

It should be noted that while no official announcement has been made by the Walt Disney Company, the studio, or even Bob Iger himself, the directors and animators at Disney have vocally expressed interest in doing another traditionally animated film. However, that doesn’t mean the groundwork hasn’t already been laid out.

Related: Disney Animation Erases Walt’s Original Work

In a recent interview with The DirectChris Buck shared his thoughts on the situation at the studio. When approached on the subject of Disney going back to 2D, the director stated,

“I think, absolutely. This film was inspired, obviously, by the legacy and the 2D animation. And the look has a somewhat 2D look with the lines on the characters. We did early tests with Star as 2D. But yeah, I think we keep exploring.”

Buck indeed isn’t the only Disney filmmaker to have these thoughts, and the studio has a boatload of tremendous talent who would more than likely jump on the opportunity to create a more traditional Disney film than what Wish appears to be.

Asha being surrounded by butterflies and purple light in Wish from Disney Animation
Credit: Disney

Although Asha (voiced by Ariana DeBose) and her quest to rescue the city of Rosas and its wishes from the malevolent King Magnifico (voiced by Chris Pine) does check a few boxes for a familiar Disney flick, its style feels more like an in-between stage of the studio’s distinct visual styles. It might be the rough draft for something bigger on the horizon.

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This is all a very exciting development, but this isn’t the sort of thing to just spring up after one trial. Realistically speaking, Disney will have to do a lot of development work if this is the direction the studio wants to take.


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♬ Paint The Town Red (Instrumental) – Doja Cat

For starters, Disney dissolved its traditional animation department years ago, meaning that the days of ink and paint are all but deceased. Additionally, modern techniques have evolved far beyond the realistic need for the hand-drawn style. While the use of sketch and storyboards is still part of the process, it’s more complex than just stopping at that part in the creative journey.

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Furthermore, the biggest thing that will determine whether or not Disney can pull this off is the size of its audience. Disney fans everywhere have clamored for the studio to return to 2D for years, but what about the average movie-goer?

The star from Wish floating through the air upside down
Credit: Disney

That’s not to say something of this magnitude couldn’t be done, but it will take some severe rearrangement on the part of Walt Disney Animation Studios. That’s not even mentioning the financial and resource aspect of the idea.

Related: Disney Listens, Classic Disney Movies Are Coming Back!

While it can be safely said that there is indeed an audience and a demand for Disney to get back to basics, it won’t be the instant solution some hope it is. Right now, a lot depends on Disney’s Wish.

Do you think Disney can make a comeback? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!


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