Oh, the best Disney movie that no one knows about! Treasure Planet had the misfortune to be released alongside Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so it went down in history as Disney’s biggest flop. Which is unfortunate, because this steampunk, sci-fi retelling of a Robert Louis Stevenson classic is nothing short of terrific.
The characters and actors are all terrific, but in the end, for me anyway, the choice was obviously Captain Amelia. This anthropomorphic feline is perceptive, can lead a crew through disaster, kick some serious butt, be romantic, be stern, and be a working mom.
And she’s voiced by Emma Thompson. It doesn’t get much better than that.
We first meet her when she somersaults onto the ship deck and teases First Officer Arrow, then has her first conversation with Delbert (the canine doctor) and Jim. She knows something is up with the crew, and doesn’t put up with any of Jim’s insubordinance– making him Silver’s cabin boy. Fortunately for all their survival. This initial meeting also establishes the belligerent romantic tension between her and Delbert– this provides a lot of comedy relief as well as some great moments of getting crap past the radar. This makes it believable when she later tells Delbert he has wonderful eyes.
But she’s tough, too. We see her guide the crew through a very dangerous encounter with a black hole. Though they’re pirates, they applaud her when the ship has reached safety. But she’s visibly saddened by the loss of Mr. Arrow.
She can handle herself in a gunfight. Jim and Delbert are pretty useless with pistols, so their escape from the ship is mostly due to her. Her getting badly injured by their crash landing is a blow to Jim and Delbert. But this is where the romance begins in earnest, and it doesn’t seem like a screenwriter’s contrivance. And though the injury bit is foggy and does mean she needs Delbert to carry her for a while, she recovers pretty quickly. Well, rest is often the best medicine, so it still works.
At the movie’s epilogue, when the Benbow Inn has been rebuilt we see that Delbert and Amelia are married with a litter of… whatever species they are. But she’s still in uniform, and he holds three of their offspring while she holds just one. They then let Morph babysit them while Mom and Dad dance with the other party-goers. This very strongly implies that she has not given up her career as a captain and will continue on to further adventures. Undoubtedly with Delbert and the kids, once they’re old enough. He’s adventurous, too.
I’d call Captain Amelia a feminist character. No, Treasure Planet isn’t perfect and doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test (Jim’s mother and Captain Amelia never speak with each other, for instance), but the Captain is still a strong, independent character who is easily on par with any male in the movie. She also doesn’t get shoehorned into the “mom” role, either. Her comparable character in the book also gets married and has a family pretty much as soon as the adventure is over. But unlike him, Captain Amelia, I’m sure, leaves the door open for more adventures in space. How could she not, when she shares her name with Amelia Earhart?