Timeless icon evolves through changing trends, media


Abhigna Koochana, Assistant Online Editor

From recreations of well-known fairy tales to a live-action film, Barbie movies have been and continue to be beloved by people of all ages. As a response to societal and technological changes, Barbie has evolved over the years. Like Taylor Swift, Barbie movies also have Eras. 

2001 – 2009

The first Barbie movie was “Barbie in the Nutcracker” (2001), a Barbie version of the popular Christmas ballet. This era focused on the retelling of familiar fairytales and ballets, with movies including “Barbie as Rapunzel” (2002) and “Barbie of Swan Lake” (2003).  Like the stories they are based on, the Barbie movies are nostalgic and timeless. 

“I watched ‘Barbie of Swan Lake’ and it’s a really beautiful movie,” senior Shruthi Suddala said. “There’s a lot of dancing and it feels magical. It’s definitely different from the recent Barbie movies. It has a really ethereal quality and very comforting to watch.” 

 This era’s movies also include adaptations of popular novels and original storylines, establishing Barbie as a princess in a magical setting going on adventures, with obstacles and of course, romance along her path. 

“I love “The Princess and the Pauper,” Suddala said. “Doppelgangers from drastically different social statuses meet and trade spots. The drama, the romance, it’s very entertaining.”

2010 – 2014

In this era, Barbie travels to the modern world with the transition to modern slang and change in clothing. The innovative and magical storylines remain in effect, but are set in the backdrop of the present day, presumably to lure in a newer audience.

“I loved ‘Barbie in A Mermaid Tale,’” Suddala said. “It’s a really fun movie. There are mermaids, magic, talking animals. I do think I enjoyed the older movies better just because they carried that magical glow. There was just something magical about the stories and the characters that’s lacking in these movies.”

It’s important for younger audiences to see themselves on screen

— junior Tanisha Lanka

2015 – 2017 

This era features Barbie as she sheds her magical light and becomes an average human, although she continues to go on not-so-normal adventures. Barbie isn’t just a princess or fairy anymore: she is a spy, a popstar, a video gamer. She is anything she wants to be. These movies delve deeper into Barbie’s character and personality, as well as establish a solid plot. 

“It’s more relatable in a sense but kind of boring,” junior Anusha Kuruganty said. “Barbie transitioned from this magical princess to an average teenager and yes, she goes on adventures but there are no magical, otherworldly elements to it. I still enjoy the movies though, especially ‘Barbie Spy Squad’.” 

2020 – 2023

The three-year jump from 2017-2020 seems to have changed Barbie drastically. Not only in terms of her design, but the storylines and settings as well. The stories are entrenched in the modern world. In “Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures” (2020), Barbie is a vlogger, chronicling her daily life, full of mishaps and chaos, on video. Additionally there is increasing diversity in the movies, showcasing people of different color and body types. 

“I think the older Barbie movies will definitely be nostalgic and I’ll always love them, but there’s a reason Barbie is changing,” junior Tanisha Lanka said. “It’s important for younger audiences to see themselves on screen. I do wish they could bring back some of the magical storylines though.” 

Barbie changes as she becomes more influenced by present trends and technological advancements. A popular trend is the adaptation of animated movies into live-action movies. Premiering on July 21, “Barbie,” the live-action movie will star Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. With the teaser trailer already released, fans are clamoring for more. 

“I want to see if Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling do Barbie and Ken justice,” Suddala said. “Barbie is such a nostalgic character. I still love to rewatch my favorite Barbie movies, it just reminds me of my childhood.”