For instance, in “Nutcracker,” the script initially had Barbie as Clara stumbling when she carried a tray and catching herself before spilling it contents. But a meeting of the film’s producers and Mattel representatives led to a change because, Sheridan said, “Barbie would never stumble.”
Another time, when she was recording the scene in which Clara confronts the Mouse King, a Mattel representative asked if Barbie could sound less angry. “Because Barbie would never be angry, even confronting the villain,” she said. “She was always kind, clever and brave.”
The reins had loosened, she said, by the 16th film, “Barbie and the Three Musketeers,” in which an athletic, ambitious Barbie engages in sword fights. The studio, she said, realized people actually wanted to relate to her.
“She was able to be more silly and goofy and to have more comedic moments,” she said.
By the career-focused titles of the mid-2010s, Barbie had shed her princess gowns for pants. Now, she was exploring space, going on spy missions and designing video games.
The artist known as Purcy, a 22-year-old illustrator who on Instagram posts her work picturing Barbie as various characters from the animated films, has seen 33 of the films. (She also asked not to use her full name for privacy reasons.) The ones she rewatches the most are set in the modern day, like her favorite, “Barbie: Princess Charm School.”
The Barbie of those films, she said, “showed us that we can be kind, caring, feel love, love pink, while also be strong and standing up for ourselves.”