An Extremely Thorough Guide to the World of Barbie Movies
Barbie is finally getting a live-action movie after 63 years on the market, and if the trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to break literally everything: the internet, the box office, and even awards season.
Though this is her first major live-action role (Toy Story 3 notwithstanding), she’s been starring in her own animated movie franchise for years. There are currently a whopping 42 Barbie movies to feast your eyes on while we wait (extremely impatiently) for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie to hit theaters on July 21.
Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)
This was the beginning of it all, and the golden era (in my opinion) of Barbie films. The film is an adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by E. T. A. Hoffmann, and, of course, the ballet version by Tchaikovsky. The film follows Barbie as Clara, whose toy nutcracker comes to life and sets about finding the Sugarplum Princess to reverse a shrinking spell put on Clara by the antagonists of the story, the Mouse King’s Soldiers.
Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)
In this one, Barbie becomes the protagonist of the Brothers Grimm tale about a princess with unbelievably long hair. After years of being locked away in a tower, Rapunzel escapes with her companions Penelope and Hobie and goes on an adventure of self-discovery and, of course, her happily ever after. (This is also where the iconic “give him to me” meme comes from. You’re welcome.)
Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
Barbie becomes the Swan Princess, Odette, who is turned into a swan by an evil wizard in the Enchanted Forest. We follow Odette as she tries to save the forest while falling in love with a handsome prince named Daniel.
Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper is the superior Barbie film; the best there ever was. Adapted from the Mark Twain story, we follow Princess Anneliese and her lookalike, commoner Erika. In the first musical film in the series, we see the two switch places and watch the chaos unfold, all while they both discover who they are and what they want.
Barbie: Fairytopia (2005)
THE ARRIVAL OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR, BIBBLE. This was the first original Barbie film, plot and all. Barbie plays a fairy named Elina who sets off in search of Azura, one of the seven guardian fairies, to help save her meadow from a green potion sent by an evil fairy.
Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)
After being attacked by an evil Wenlock, Barbie goes to save her people and village on the back of her pegasus, Brietta, and encounters different characters along the way, including Aidan, a blacksmith who helps her on her quest.
Barbie: Mermaidia (2006)
Barbie’s Elina gains a tail and goes under the sea to save aquatic life from the villainous Laverna, who threatens to pollute the sea unless the kidnapped Prince Nalu tells her where to find the magical immunity berry. Elina must enlist the help of Nori, a sarcastic mermaid who doesn’t trust her. This film sees the return of Bibble, and people have been saying that Dula Peep’s (sorry—Dua Lipa’s) mermaid Barbie in the upcoming live-action movie looks just like Nori, and I see it!
The Barbie Diaries (2006)
The Barbie Diaries is the first film not to be based on princesses, fairies, or magic. This film follows Barbie as she tackles more realistic problems of school life and being a teen alongside her best friends Tia, Courtney, and Kevin.
Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
This film changed my brain chemistry at the ripe age of five years old. Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses follows Genevieve and her 11 sisters as they discover a magical world under their feet (literally, it’s under their bedroom) while navigating their father being ill and the arrival of his cousin, evil Duchess Rowena. Also, I think Derek is my favorite love interest that Barbie has ever had. So iconic, I still want to do the stepping stones at 22, and I know I’m not the only one.
Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)
In the last film in the Fairytopia trilogy, Elina must defeat Laverna once and for all as she plans to stop Elina and her fairy school friends from performing their annual rainbow dance.
Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)
In Barbie as the Island Princess, Barbie is, you guessed it, an island princess. Rosella lives on an island after being shipwrecked as a child and raised by anthropomorphic animals. Two men—Prince Antonio and his friend Frazer—disturb the peace (typical) and decide to help Rosella find her kingdom.
Barbie: Mariposa (2008)
Barbie is once again a fairy in Mariposa. In the Fairytopia spinoff narrated by Elina, the queen is put in danger by her attendant Henna who tries to take over the kingdom. Mariposa and her friends set out to help their queen and restore balance in their kingdom.
Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008)
Diamond Castle follows Barbie and her best friend Teresa as the two try to save and restore the castle from the evil witch Lydia.
Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008)
Another adaptation of a classic story, A Christmas Carol sees Barbie tell her sister Kelly about an opera singer named Eden Starling who hates Christmas, and how she is visited by the three Christmas spirits—past, present, and future—over three days.
Barbie Presents: Thumbelina (2009)
Based on the Hans Christian Andersen tale, Thumbelina and her friends must save their favorite field of wildflowers and the environment from a spoiled girl name Makena and evil construction workers. What a sustainable queen.
Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)
Mattel loves their adaptations. In this film, Barbie is a young girl named Corinne who wishes to become a musketeer like her father to protect the French royals, but is disappointed to learn she cannot because she isn’t a boy. So she trains in secret to save Prince Louis.
Barbie in A Mermaid Tale (2010)
This film saw the franchise become more “modern,” casting Barbie as a surfer who discovers she is actually a mermaid princess. She sets out to save the mer-kingdom of Oceana and her mother, Calissa.
Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010)
Barbie stars as herself in Fashion Fairytale. She travels to Paris and discovers that her aunt Millicent is being forced to close her fashion store, so Barbie and her aunt’s assistant Alice try to help.
Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)
In a weird turn of events, Barbie is a human who must save Ken and her enemy, Raquelle, after they are kidnapped by fairies and taken to the fairy kingdom of Gloss Angeles (yes, really).
Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)
A poor Barbie wins a spot at Princess Charm School and is trained to become either a princess or lady royal. She also discovers a secret about her past while trying to fit in at her new school.
Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011)
In the second installment in the Christmas series, Barbie takes a trip to New York with her friends to visit her aunt, but things take a turn and they end up in the festive town of Tannenbaum, Arkansas. This film is also a musical.
Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 (2012)
A sequel! Barbie (as Merliah) goes to Australia for a surfing competition and Oceana is one again attacked by an evil mermaid trying to take over.
Barbie: The Princess & the Popstar (2012)
In this modernized take on The Prince and the Pauper, Barbie is Princess Victoria and she swaps places with a pop star named Keira.
Barbie in the Pink Shoes (2013)
Barbie stars as ballet dancer Kristyn Farraday in The Pink Shoes. Kristyn must dance her favorite ballets—Swan Lake and Giselle—to defeat the evil Snow Queen in a secret ballet world.
Barbie: Mariposa & the Fairy Princess (2013)
Mariposa returns for a sequel! In The Fairy Princess, she is sent by the fairy queen of Flutterfield to a neighboring kingdom, Shimmervale, to make peace between the two. While there, she and Princess Catania uncover an evil plot to destroy Shimmervale and must save it from impending doom.
Barbie & Her Sisters in A Pony Tale (2013)
Barbie goes with her sisters to a horse riding academy in Switzerland where she finds her dream horse, which is supposedly a myth, and adventure ensues.
Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014)
Barbie is once again a mermaid in this Rapunzel-style tale. Her pearls have powers and can help save the kingdom, which she must do while attending a royal ball.
Barbie and the Secret Door (2014)
Barbie finds a secret door that leads her to a kingdom called Zinnia. She and her two new companions, a fairy named Nori and a mermaid called Romy, must save Zinnia from an evil sorceress who is trying to take all of the kingdom’s magic.
Barbie in Princess Power (2015)
Barbie gains magical abilities in Princess Power after she is kissed by a mystical butterfly. When Barbie’s cousin finds out about her powers, she also gets kissed by the butterfly and the two start competing. However, they join forces when they discover a dark plot to destroy their home.
Barbie in Rock ‘N Royals (2015)
Another Prince and the Pauper retelling, this one is about Princess Courtney and a rockstar named Ekika Juno. The two swap places after finding out about their similarities and explore what it’s like to live the other’s life.
Barbie & Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)
Barbie returns with her three sisters Skipper, Stacie, and Chelsea as they discover a forgotten treasure map in their grandma’s attic and set out to find the chest, which contains a bunch of jewels.
Barbie: Spy Squad (2016)
Spy Squad follows Barbie as she embarks on an adventure with her friends Teresa and Renee. The three gymnasts are recruited to help capture a jewel thief who’s committed a string of robberies.
Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016)
Barbie stars as a cosmic princess who, with the help of her companion Pupcorn, travels to Capital Planet. While there, she helps a team trying to save the stars.
Barbie & Her Sisters in A Puppy Chase (2016)
The girls travel to Hawaii for a dance competition and whilst exploring, they lose their puppies. The film follows their quest to get them back before the start of the competition.
Barbie: Video Game Hero (2017)
In Video Game Hero, Barbie gets trapped and becomes a character in her favorite video game. She befriends two other characters, Kris and the roller-skating princess Bella, and they complete levels to defeat a virus in the game.
Barbie: Dolphin Magic (2017)
While Barbie is on vacation, she befriends a girl called Isla, who helps her find a missing, rare gemstone dolphin.
Barbie: Princess Adventure (2020)
Another switcharoo. Barbie switches places with Princess Amelia before Amelia is crowned queen. However, during their fun, an evil prince plans to foil their adventure.
Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday (2021)
In this one, Barbie’s sister Chelsea believes that she has lost her birthday after crossing the International Date Line during a vacation with her family and begins an adventure to get it back.
Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams (2021)
Barbie meets … Barbie? After heading to New York from Malibu to attend a performing arts program on Broadway, Barbie meets someone with the same name. The two Barbies compete for a spot to sing in Times Square and discover they have more in common than a shared name.
Barbie: Mermaid Power (2022)
Barbie returns to the sea with Isla to compete in a series of competitions to determine the Power Keeper. While competing, they’re also discovering what kind of mermaid they are—a mermaid of Earth, Air, Water, or Fire. And they have to save Isla’s home of Pacifica in the process.
Barbie: Epic Road Trip (2022)
One of the more recent entries in the franchise, Epic Road Trip is an interactive film that lets you choose Barbie’s adventure as she travels cross-country.
Whew! We don’t know a whole lot about the live-action Barbie movie just yet, but we do know there are many Barbies and Kens, as well as some humans. I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to see it this summer.
(featured image: Mattel / Warner Bros. / The Mary Sue)
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