In The Frozen Theory, I explored the connections that ‘prove’ Frozen, Tangled and The Little Mermaid all take place in the same world.
I loved how it challenged the concept of a single unified Disney world (and also how it connected to Tangled, The Little Mermaid and The Disney Princess Theory) but there was one little detail that I found even more fascinating than the possible family links between Anna, Elsa and Rapunzel.
That detail was Wreck-It Ralph…
How Wreck-It Ralph Breaks The Disney Theory
At first it seemed like a trivial detail, but there is a scene in Frozen where Anna stands next to a dessert that looks just like Wreck-It Ralph‘s land of ‘Sugar Rush’.
As you probably know, Wreck-It Ralph is a Disney movie released in 2012, where Ralph plays the villain of the ‘Fix-It Felix’ arcade-game. In the film, Ralph longs to be the hero of his story, and and so he leaves the world of his game to find a better one. One of the worlds he visits is Sugar Rush, where he meets a special little girl called Vanellope (we’ll hear more about her later).
Obviously the idea of multiple worlds is a problem for The Disney Theory, which aimed to unite all the movies of Walt Disney in one single world. And a few similarities to a dessert in Frozen are far from enough to base any kind of theory on, but it did make me wonder if there were any connections between Wreck-It Ralph and movies that already featured in The Disney Theory.
And of course there were. Which lead to one very difficult question:
How does Wreck-It Ralph fit in to the Disneyverse?
Wreck-It Ralph is so packed with videogame references, trying to find Disney cameos amongst them is like looking for needles in a haystack full of pins.
Which isn’t to say it’s impossible…
Take this scene in Wreck-It Ralph‘s ‘Game Central Station’ for example.
Avid gamers will probably easily spot icons like Bowser from Super Mario, but what might be less obvious are three cameos from established Disney characters.
The two most significant cameos are both from a movie which Frozen is already closely linked to. They are Maximus the horse and Vladimir the pub thug from Tangled.
Let’s take another look at that shot of the station:
Maximus and Vladimir’s appearances provide strong evidence that the worlds of Wreck-It Ralph and Tangled are somehow linked.
We can even see that as a knight is riding Maximus, which tells us this scene is before the events of Tangled, where Maximus begrudgingly partners up with Flynn Rider.
Interestingly, the other cameo in this scene is Tiny the Dinosaur from Meet The Robinsons – a film that previously remained unconnected to the Disneyverse.
The final notable Disney cameo in Wreck-It Ralph involves a ‘Lost Dog’ poster in Ralph’s ‘Bad-Guy Anonymous’ support group which seems to depict a white dog called ‘Bolt’.
So Wreck-It Ralph can be connected to Bolt, Meet The Robinsons and Tangled (with the last film providing a strong link to Frozen and the rest of the Disneyverse). But does this mean all Disney movies are actually set in Disney games? How can a film set entirely within videogames make sense in the same world as magical powers and fairy-tale villains?
To explain that, we need some help from Vanellope.
When Ralph first meets Vanellope she’s a troubled, unpopular kid who seems to have the ability to ‘glitch’ out and appear in different places and magically transport herself. The other inhabitants of Sugar Rush shun her because they believe that a glitch taking part in the game could lead to the arcade machine being switched off.
As Ralph explores the world of Sugar Rush he learns that Vanellope isn’t a bug in the game, she’s actually the game’s hero. Once upon a time, a rogue videogame character called Turbo took her place in the game, turning her in to a glitch. Now Turbo rules over Sugar Rush as King Candy, while Vanellope glitches out and becomes more and more confused and erratic.
With Ralph’s help, Vanellope eventually defeats King Candy and takes her rightful place as Princess Vanellope.
So how does this explain Wreck-It Ralph‘s place in the Disneyverse?
Because glitching is magic.
Vanellope shares all the characteristics of magical characters in the Disneyverse. She has the distracted, erratic mind of Disney magic users like Princess and the Frog‘s Mama Odie, the ability to transport herself and other objects like Aladdin‘s Genie, and her ‘magic’ can be unintentionally triggered by strong emotions, like Frozen‘s Elsa.
If the Disneyverse indeed shares its world, then Wreck-It Ralph teaches us that it’s a world where there is no need for true ‘bad-guys’. This is why every Disney movie ends ‘happily ever after’ with the evil power being vanquished.
Because the evil power was never supposed to exist in the first place.
Just like Turbo, they have taken the place of a benevolent ruler or benign antagonist and brought discord where there should be harmony.
This could even be what gives erratic magic users like Genie and Mama Odie both their magic and their madness. They have been supplanted by powerful evil forces like Jafar and the Shadow Man and so made purposeless. They know they are supposed to help the hero bring order to the world, but they are a confused and chaotic good, and often their actions don’t help as much as they have the power to. Like Vanellope, they need an external – often unexceptional – force, to readdress the balance.
There is one obvious problem with my theory: Wreck-It Ralph makes it quite clear that a glitch can’t leave it’s own ‘game’. Yet we know that Genie seems to have met Pocahontas, and Merlin in The Sword In The Stone goes to Bermuda – how do we explain that?
Well, because once the evil-powers of their universe have been vanquished they are no longer glitches and are free to travel where they want. It’s no coincidence that Genie decides to go travelling after Jafar is defeated, and Merlin disappears right after defeating Madam Mim. Once order is restored in their worlds, they are free to leave, and it appears in the Disneyverse that only the magic users and side-characters are aware that you can leave these worlds. You never see Simba or Aladdin appearing as a cameo in any of these movies so maybe the Disney characters who visit other worlds are just like Ralph, looking for a world where they can be the hero.
In short, Wreck-It Ralph obliterates The Disney Theory.
Instead of a single world being used for alien experimentation, it’s an inter-connected hub of movies like Game Central Station (Lion King‘s Cross?) where characters can (usually) come and go as they please.
Incidentally, this also means that all 30 Disney movies mentioned in The Disney Theory can be linked to every game referenced in Wreck-It Ralph; from Pac-Man to Mortal Kombat. For some exploration of this, read:
For now, I’m far more interested in another cameo in Wreck-It Ralph that addresses by far the most popular question in relation to The Disney Theory…