The 2010 Rapunzel story Tangled was an instant classic and remains in a place of high honor.
Much of this is due to the charming and roguish Flynn Rider, adorable crown thief- turned into the adventure partner and harmonizing prince we ladies dream about.
Was it his gorgeous face that caught our attention? Uh, well, yeah, that certainly helped.
His sense of humor? Mmmhhmm.
The smolder? It certainly did not damage his cause.
As much as we love his charming exterior, what really sold us all on Flynn Rider was the way he changed the “face” and expectations for the classic “Disney Prince”.
The character that came closest to Flynn Rider before he hit the screen was most definitely Aladdin. Not only was he also an adorably mischevious thief, but rather than just a pretty face with a castle we were given a more 3-dimensional character who had his own backstory, own dreams, and own failures.
Still, Flynn Rider, or shall we say Eugene Fitzherbert took it to the next level.
Flynn Rider started out as a self-seeking jerk.
You are talking to a girl who loves the good guys. I have only fallen for the “bad boy” twice in my life and those two bad boys ended up becoming the best of the good boys. #edmundpevensie #captainhook (Apparently I go for dark good looks as well? Hmm…)
But it is wise to admit to ourselves that everyone is human, male or female.
We have imperfections, we have broken places, we have pockets of selfishness or places of retained anger. There are things about ourselves we would like to change and things in others we find hard to overlook. We’re really messy, and sometimes kind of ugly.
Flynn Rider is something of a scoundrel. He double-crosses his own partners-in-crime in order to keep the crown for himself.
When Flynn arrives at Rapunzel’s castle, he has an initial moment of awe over her beauty, but it passes like a cloud over the sun and then he’s back to scheming again.
Can I just say how much I love the fact that Flynn and Rapunzel broke the “love at first sight” Disney couple trope?
I 100% believe in love at first sight. It happens all the time in real life. I just think it’s a good idea to present more than one way for a couple to fall for each other. Many couples discover each other over time, building one step upon another. Such is the case for Flynn and Rapunzel.
Flynn Rider has eyeballs, anyone with eyeballs can see how beautiful Rapunzel is. He has a normal human reaction to her appearance and then he starts trying to pull one over on her. His own selfish needs and desires trump whatever reaction she just created in him.
Let’s be honest, people, we’ve all been Flynn Rider before (maybe even like 2 minutes ago). Humanity, apart from Jesus, is inheritently sinful, broken, and definitely selfish!
Flynn’s plan to frighten Rapunzel at The Snuggly Duckling ends up placing them in a situation of danger where Rapunzel’s indomitable spirit and open heart earns Flynn’s respect.
She takes a roomful of gross and scary (and anatomically incorrect) men and turns them all into mush by seeing beneath the surface and touching their hearts.
Follow that up with an epic escape from multiple foes that succeeds when it shouldn’t…
…yeah, Flynn looks at Rapunzel with new eyes.
He is impressed, there is more to her than he at first thought. The sweetest thing is that Rapunzel does all of this without the intention of winning someone’s approval or respect. She is merely being herself and is entirely guileless. It’s refreshing, tantalizing, and touches a long-hidden part of Flynn Rider.
Enter, Eugene Fitzherbert.
First respect, next we go to a new level. Vulnerability.
Flynn and Rapunzel find themselves in a dark cave with water rising. #thisismyworstnightmareminussomesharks
The idea that they are facing death gives Flynn the courage to reveal one of the most precious and tender parts of himself…his true name.
Eugene Fitzherbert. It’s soft and sweet. Rapunzel listens with such kind respect. She proves to Flynn that not only is she someone he can rely on in a pinch, but she is also a safe person to trust himself with. His true self.
The theme of revealing their inner selves continues by the fireside where Rapunzel reveals the story of her magic hair. Then Flynn tells her about a special book that gave him oxygen to dream during the tragedy of his childhood as an orphan.
Whoa, a sad orphan who used to read this book to the younger orphans? A kid who grew up and took on the name of his literary hero to try and build a life of plenty for himself to replace the history of lack and lovelessness?
I. Am. Intrigued.
We begin by seeing Flynn through the mask he has invented for himself – a careless and debonair thief who needs no one. #funnybutnotmarriagematerial
Within the course of about two scenes of tender and revealing moments, our perception is entirely changed to match what is this character’s truth.
Flynn is not a typical Disney prince. He is just as broken and in need as the princess is. He needs her as much or more than she needs him. They need each other in different ways.
It’s a beautiful picture of so many real-life relationships where you take two extraordinary individuals who each bring something neat to the table, but together they create something wonderful.
Together they end up helping each other heal.
Together, they dream a new dream.
We started with respect, leveled up at vulnerability, and now we bring in attraction.
Flynn is sooooo attracted to Rapunzel. She has had a deprived life in a way that is different from his, but no less real. However, her deprivation has made her kind, patient, and eager to enjoy every little thing.
The word that best describes Rapunzel is “wonder”.
The biggest dream of her life has just been to go and see these beautiful lights that fill the night sky on her birthday.
Flynn has been everywhere and thinks he’s done everything, it was all old news to him until he met her.
Rapunzel reintroduces Flynn to the idea of wonder, and during that process, he finds himself deeply attracted to her.
I love the montage of this glorious day in the town that leads up to one of Disney’s best romantic songs in existence. It shows Eugene and Rapunzel falling for each other in such a sweet, specific way that celebrates life.
Falling in love with Rapunzel doesn’t just bring stars to Flynn’s eyes, we get to go so much deeper into the why behind his love for Rapunzel that we do with many other Disney princes.
Rapunzel reawakens the Eugene within him, reminds him of who he is, and gives him the courage to dream something far bigger than just a castle of his own.
Rapunzel and Flynn’s story reminds us the power of human connection to create change as well as the healing capability that true love can bring.
And what is true love? It has been said in passing in so many stories, but we actually get to see it lived out in Tangled in a way that blew my mind.
True love is a sacrifice.
Flynn first respected her, then he allowed himself to be vulnerable with her. His attraction grew alongside hers, but Flynn’s love was proven to be real when he sacrificed himself for her without a single selfish thought…
…he actually dies for her.
Flynn’s sacrifice is not pretty, he gets stabbed in the back and is bleeding out on the floor. #thisscaredmesobad #disneybrokealltherules
There were no grandiose words or declarations of valor. There was no masterful sword fight against a dragon (the dude lost a frying pan duel to a horse, y’all), no sweeping in on a vine to rescue the girl. No magic shoe to gallantly slip on her foot.
He is weak and bleeding out on the floor. In hoarse tones he calls her to come close to him, and in one swift motion he uses the last of his strength to take a shard of glass and cut off all of her hair! Freeing her forever from her lifelong bondage.
The shock of that moment hit me like a tidal wave in the same way it does for the other characters. Rapunzel can’t even comprehend the fact for a moment that her hair, the source of her magical strength as well as her hideous bondage, is gone. Mother Gothel dies a very disgusting/ugly death, and then Flynn DIES!
As Rapunzel cradles a dying Eugene in her arms, they have such a broken and tender moment where they tell each other “You were my new dream.”
I love this! The word “dream” gets thrown around so often in our stories and our real world. It gets watered down, misused, abused. So many people practically kill themselves in the pursuit of what they believe to be their “dreams” only to reach the end and find themselves with no one.
Flynn Rider, or rather, Eugene Fitzherbert thought he knew what a dream was, and then he met Rapunzel. And she became his new dream.
The word “dream” is redefined for both of them as they realize that the true dream to is share a lifetime of meaning and purpose with someone you love. Together you create something bigger than yourself.
Flynn’s entire life has been about achieving his “dreams”. He actually finds out what his true dream is, and he gives it all up without hesitation in order to ensure that the woman he loves is safe.
This is pure love. This kind of dream and this kind of love make so many other cheap fakes called “love” seem so empty compared to the rich potential of Rapunzel and Flynn’s love for each other.
It makes the moment when Rapunzel’s teardrop heals him all the more amazing as yet again, she does the impossible by simply being herself. The payoff of this movie is incredible.
We went deeper, therefore we celebrated bigger.
Respect. Vulnerability. Attraction. Sacrifice. Joy.
He’s the “perfect” man, physically the man has 0 faults. But Disney secreted a real-life, 3D human in a perfect package.
Flynn Rider completely reinvented the way we looked at Disney men and opened the door for characters like Kristoff, Kit (Prince Charming), Prince Adam (live-action Beauty and the Beast), Finn (Star Wars: Sequel Trilogy) Aladdin (live-action Aladdin), and so many more to come.
Flynn was so perfect it wasn’t even real, and yet, they managed to take the “perfect man” and teach us the beauty of imperfection as well as the depth and meaning of a true dream and the true definition of love.
To one of the greatest Disney characters ever created.
Flynn Rider, we love you.