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The Encanto Fan Theory That Will Have You Looking Twice At Abuela

"Encanto" has taken the moviegoing world by storm. The film came out in theaters in November 2021, but it took on new life when it became available to watch on Disney+ on December 24. It became accessible to a new group of people who perhaps didn't want to risk seeing it in a theater with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging. Now, more people than ever before have seen the animated flick about what it truly means to be a family, all while singing along to "We Don't Talk About Bruno."

What's even more astonishing is how much the movie manages to accomplish all without having a traditional villain. Instead, the driving antagonistic force is the threat of the magic going out at the casita, putting it on Mirabel's (Stephanie Beatriz) shoulders to figure out what's going on to keep the magic alive. 

While villains generally receive the lion's share of the audience's disdain, that honor seems to have instead transferred to a different type of character archetype — Abuela (María Cecilia Botero). Looking across social media, it's clear not a lot of viewers care for the family matriarch due to how she viewed everyone's special powers initially in "Encanto." And thanks to one fan theory, her intentions with her future family are even more insidious when you get down to brass tacks.

Abuela saw family members as tools, not people

Redditor u/Ishdakitty makes a highly compelling point that offers clarification on just how truly lost Abuela was when it came to her relationship with the candle and its magic. As evidence, turn to the scene where the whole Madrigal family sits at the table for a meal. When the topic of Mariano (Maluma) comes up, Dolores (Adassa) mentions how he wants five children with Isabela (Diane Guerrero). Upon this news, Abuela says, "Such a fine young man with our perfect Isabela will bring a new generation of magical blessings and make both of our families stronger."

Notice how Abuela refers to the prospective great-grandchildren as "magical blessings." She only views the kids in the context of what powers they'll receive as opposed to simply enjoying the gift of having more babies around. u/Ishdakitty posits, "My theory is that, after having two children (Luisa and Isabel) their parents were content and didn't plan to have more children. But Abuela pushed them to try for one more 'gift,' and they did as they were told, as she expected. She may even have chosen her name, because it's a 'miracle' after they said they didn't want more!"

In a way, the casita denying Mirabel a gift was its way of punishing Abuela for only viewing family through the lens of what they can offer instead of simply loving them for who they are. Of course, there's still the matter of Antonio (Ravi Cabot-Conyers), but u/Ishdakitty explains him, as well, stating, "I think the reason that Antonio gets his gift is because his parents had him without prompting from Abuela. He's also proof that Mirabel is connected to the house (and her family) on a deeper level because she knows 'he's an animal guy' and gives him a box covered in the animals who show up for him." It's an intriguing theory that adds more wrinkles to the "Encanto" mythos, and it's clear how deeply the movie impacted audiences that people are still ruminating on it all this time later.