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Disney's Wish ending explained

Disney's new film Wish brings together characters and ideas from Disney's entire 100 year history. But does it work?

This article contains major spoilers for Wish.

Disney’s 100th anniversary animated film Wish has arrived, er, been granted! And in addition to telling its own story about a king who steals wishes and the young woman who brings her community together to try and set them free, the film unexpectedly provides a secret origin for the star that Pinocchio wishes upon, as well as many of Disney’s most beloved animated characters, and perhaps the company itself.

How does Wish end?

At the end of Wish, King Magnifico (Chris Pine), who having previously stayed away from dark magic is now seriously jumped up on the stuff. He is able to finally capture Star, the magical creature that came to help Asha (Ariana DeBose) free all of the Kingdom of Rosas’ wishes from Magnifico’s grasp. Star is sucked into his staff, giving Magnifico what seems like endless and undefeatable power. When Asha tries with her last bit of strength to inspire the people of Rosas to fight back, Magnifico uses that power to create a vine-like webs of spells that hold them all down.

Nevertheless Asha’s plan works, and as various members of the community begin to sing out in resistance, their chests begin to glow with what seem like stars of their own. Together their belief overpowers Magnifico, and he is sucked into his staff, while Star is released.

Each person of Rosas is given back the wish that Magnifico took from them, healing the holes that theft had left in their hearts and inspiring them to pursue those wishes. Having betrayed Asha, her friend Simon apologizes, explaining that he was haunted by the possibility that he would never get his wish and his happiness back.

Star reveals that it’s going to be leaving soon to help others. But first it fixes the wand that it gave to Asha. Asha is reluctant to take it, but her friends insist she should become Rosas’ fairy godmother. And so she does. Magnifico, trapped in the mirror headpiece of his staff, is left in the dungeon. And Queen Amaya (Angelique Cabral) is crowned the ruler of Rosas.

What other Disney characters are in Wish?

Wish is chock full of characters from past Disney films, starting with the star that characters in Disney films so often wish upon. Cooing and adorable, Star ends up creating or jumpstarting many other famous Disney characters.

Much of this happens in the sequence where Star first arrives and starts to spread its magic stardust over everything. In very quick succession Star creates Thumper, Bambi, the bluebirds from Snow White, the talking Pansies from Alice in Wonderland, and many others.

Later on, we meet Wendy and Peter Pan; Peter is a kid from Rosas whose dream is to fly. Asha herself becomes the Fairy Godmother, complete with her famous golden wand, and Magnifico becomes the Magic Mirror from Snow White. (There are many references along the way connecting Magnifico with both Snow White’s Evil Queen and Sleeping Beauty’s Maleficent, including a poison apple on his desk, the green threads of his magic-when-evil, and his vanity.)

There are other kinds of character references, as well. Asha has seven friends, each of whom mirrors the traits of one of Snow White’s seven dwarves (shown above, with Asha's mother Sakina holding Valentino to their right). The first letter of their names also parallels the names of the dwarves.

The storyline begins with Asha trying to become the apprentice to Magnifico, a clear parallel to the Magician’s Apprentice in Fantasia. At the end of the film the baby goat Valentino (Alan Tudyk, in his 13th straight Disney film) dreams of a world where all the animals talk and wear clothes, which sounds an awful lot like Zootopia (a film Tudyk was in).

All in all Disney has said there are over 100 Easter Eggs in the film, referencing everything from Pocahontas to Atlantis.

Does Wish have a post-credits scene?

Yes, Wish does have an extra scene after all of the credits, and it is maybe the sweetest scene in the whole film. Sabino (Victor Garber), Asha’s 100-year-old grandfather, whose wish had been to learn to play the mandolin and inspire people, sits off by himself, plunking notes on his new instrument. As he does so, the notes slowly become the song “When You Wish Upon a Star.” As the song continues, Disney’s iconic castle appears, and is transformed.

“When You Wish Upon a Star” originally comes from the 1940 film Pinocchio, and has long been the theme song of Disney. Given that Sabino is 100 years old, the same age as the company, one wonders whether we’re not being offered not simply a fantasy-styled origin of the song but of the company itself. Is Sabino in some way dreaming Disney into existence?

Is Wish a musical?

Wish has 8 musical numbers in it, most of them performed by Ariana DeBose and Chris Pine.

Who did the music for Wish?

The music for Wish comes from Dave Metzger, with lyrics by pop singer/songwriter Julia Michaels and additional music by record producer Benjamin Rice and JP Saxe. The screenplay is from Jennifer Lee (Frozen, Frozen 2) and Allison Moore, from a story by Lee, Moore, Chris Buck and Fawn Veerasunthorn.

Is Wish any good?

The film looks gorgeous. The animation often has a painterly style reminiscent of the pre-computer era, and it's beautiful.

But as Disney stories go, Wish falls pretty flat. In comparison to the wonderful 2021 film Encanto, which had many compelling characters with their own songs and storyline, here the conflict between Asha and Magnifico is pretty much everything.

There are some interesting supporting characters—Valentino the talking baby goat, Magnifico’s loving and conflicted wife, Asha’s friends, and of course Star—but none of them are given much of a story or music of their own. While Ariana DeBose is a fantastic performer, and Chris Pine does very serviceably as Magnifico, having just the two of them do most of the singing ends up making the film feel repetitive. Wish is desperate for an Olaf or a Bruno to add a different dimension.

Also, while Metzger has done orchestrations on many Disney musicals, it’s very clear that the writing team of Metzger, Michaels and Rice have never written a musical before. The songs are too often anthemic, and not in a way that is memorable. There is no “Let it Go” or “When You Wish Upon a Star” here that you’ll be singing leaving the theater.

Finally, while Star is adorable—he is absolutely Disney’s attempt to grab a piece of the squishmallow business for Christmas, and it will almost certainly succeed—the logic of its powers and identity gets more and more confusing as the film goes on. Asha wishes upon a star in the sky after having her first run in with Magnifico, at which point Star appears. But Star doesn’t fulfill her desire; rather, it starts giving the animals and plants in the vicinity the ability to talk. Its main power seems to be that it makes the whole world more magical, which gives Asha hope. It is a source of inspiration, rather than a wish-granter.

But after Star is captured by Magnifico, we get the reveal that instead of there being just one star out there that we wish upon—which again is kind of the whole point of the story—actually everyone has their own star inside them, because we’re all made of stardust. And it’s everyone’s individual star-power which allow the people of Rosas to push back and defeat Magnifico.

To be clear (or not), Star was not Asha’s own internal star, but an actual star. And people still have that star within them even after they’ve had their wishes stolen from them, even though previously we had been told had their wishes were in fact what was most essential and life-giving about them (which um, sounds a lot like their star).

Then on top of all that, the tagline for the film is “Be Careful What You Wish For,” which fits with none of that and makes no sense at all.

For what it’s worth, the film’s idea that we each have just one specific wish and without it we’re lost seems like a very American Idol way of thinking, and like that show, completely out of date. A Disney that intends to look forward to another 100 years, as well as back on its last 100 should have something a little more interesting to say.

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