Disclaimer: This post includes spoilers of Cars 3
Meet Cruz Ramirez, a witty yellow 2017 CRS who becomes long beloved Lightning McQueen’s new trainer in order to be able to be up to par with his new rival, Storm.
Given that the past two Cars movies have been male dominant, with female characters being there to foil the male characters or simply as a romantic partner (what’s new?) Cruz’s protagonist role is refreshing — and much needed.
It’s not surprising that Cruz was meant to be male and a farmer, with not much relevance to the story. Thankfully, Pixar realized that there was room for improvement and created Cruz as we see her on the big screen.
Now, her role in the movie is much greater than just helping out McQueen. Cruz has a story of her own and the makers at Pixar thought it was a great idea to share her sad and relatable story.
In an argument, McQueen, “flat out tells her that she doesn’t understand racing because she’s just a trainer, and he’s sick of wasting his time trying to get her to understand where he needs to be in order to get his career back on track.”
Cruz then explains that her plan was not to be a trainer but to actually race. She saved her money and devoted her time to the sport in order to be the best. Her family was not supportive of her dream. Still, she entered her first race but it felt short to her expectations because she felt out of place with all the other racers being so “big and confident”.
Some think that Cruz serves as a person who can relate to everyone. I agree. She reflects a person who failed, and gave up but shows that it’s okay. Cruz’s story might hit home more so for immigrant families and, “ the difficulty children from these units have in succeeding because they’re intimidated by the status quo.”
My feminist lense can’t help but see that Cruz is also highly inspirational to the young girls and women in the audience. All the girls who felt weird about liking the Cars franchise, as it is highly marketed towards boys, now have a female main character that they can proudly wear on shirts, lunch boxes and backpacks. The fact that Cruz quit racing because she felt intimidated speaks volumes on gender roles, especially in the school and workplace. While the young children that this movie is marketed to may be too small to comprehend that what Cruz went through is a real and common problem in everyday life, adult Disney fans like myself can identify with Cruz on that level.
All in all, in whatever context you want to take her story, Cruz was a much needed female lead who has a variety of lessons to teach. I can’t wait to see her development as a character in future movies. Cars 3 is out in theaters now.