Who Is Bruno And Why Does Disney Hate Him?

Disney and Pixar have a long history of dropping easter eggs referencing other movies in their new releases, and over the years, they have crafted mini-shared universes encompassing many of their films. My personal favorite exists in "WALL-E," where our robotic trash compactor comes across the Pizza Planet delivery vehicle from "Toy Story." With a well-documented history of in-jokes and homages, fans are constantly on the lookout for connective tissue, with the latest Disney and Pixar mystery centered around the most talked about character in years. 

The first rule of Madrigal Family Magic Club, is we don't talk about Bruno, no, no, no. The misunderstood anti-antagonist of "Encanto" and subject of the massively successful song, "We Don't Talk About Bruno," has been on the minds (and internal singing) for months, but recent developments from some eagle-eyed fans have posed an even bigger question.

"Encanto" may have put the "Bruno" name on everyone's lips, but it isn't the first time the studio has tried to make a villain out of the name. Earlier in 2021, the Disney and Pixar film "Luca," came with the mantra "Silenzio Bruno!," a way to remind yourself to tell the intrusive negative thoughts of self doubt to shut the hell up. That's two acts of Bruno slander in 2021 alone. Did some guy named Bruno bully Disney and Pixar leadership as children? Is Bruno a secret code for something, much like how "A113" pops up in Pixar movies in reference to CalArts? Why can't we talk about Bruno and why must we keep him quiet? WHAT ANSWERS DOES HE HAVE?!

A Look At Bruno Pre-2021

Bruno first appeared as a Disney character all the way back in 1950 in the form of Cinderella's pet bloodhound. A loyal and loving pet to Cinderella, Bruno is in constant battle with Lady Tremaine's pet cat, Lucifer, and their bickering frequently gets him sent out of the house. We are meant to feel sympathetic to the floppy-eared pup, but even Cinderella tells him he needs to stop retaliating and learn to get along with Lucifer. When the fairy godmother shows up, Bruno is transformed into a foot servant, meant to wait on Cinderella while she attends the ball. He does eventually save the day by scaring Lucifer away and is rewarded by getting to go on Cinderella and Prince Charming's honeymoon. However, he was downgraded from a supporting character to a cameo role in "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True."

In the 2000 film "Dinosaur," we are introduced to a character named Bruton and while not exactly Bruno, it's close enough to warrant further examination. Bruton is a rude, cranky, and merciless iguanodon that most people highly dislike. He only gets it together and learns to be nice after he's abandoned, and is only able to prove his genuine kind heart by SACRIFICING HIMSELF to save others. He spends an entire movie being a bowl of piss and vinegar and has to die to prove that he's more than just a bad attitude.

"Screw Bruno, All My Homies Hate Bruno" - Someone at Disney, Probably

"Luca" director Enrico Casarosa claims that the "Silenzio Bruno!" and "Don't Listen to Stupid Bruno" mantras came because it sounds as preposterous as it is wise. The name allegedly came from writer Jesse Andrews, whose only defense of the name usage has been, "Well, that's the line." As a first time director, Casarosa adopted the mantra for himself, using the Bruno name to represent his own imposter's syndrome, frequently telling his own Bruno to hush up whenever he invaded with the thoughts of "You can't do it," "What are you doing?" and "You shouldn't be here." Casarosa also sent his apologies to the Brunos of the world, knowing full well that the cute motivational phrase was at the expense of a relatively common name.

Everything changed with "Encanto," however. The story is that Lin-Manuel Miranda came up with the "We Don't Talk About Bruno" song first, and the character had to be renamed from the original development choice of "Oscar" in order to match the song. They clearly made the right decision, because "We Don't Talk About Bruno" has been flying high on both the Billboard and Spotify charts. What was likely a hilarious coincidence has now got fans believing Disney has an anti-Bruno agenda. Both characters represent negative emotions like fear, doubt, and insecurity, but without Bruno, the problems plaguing the characters in both "Luca" and "Encanto" wouldn't have been solved.

Bruno is Secretly The Best of Us

Alberto names that pesky little voice in his head "Bruno" in an attempt to humanize his feelings, and in turn, help Luca learn to regulate his own emotions. In practice, this is genuinely good advice for anyone who struggles with thoughts of self-doubt. Personally, I've named mine "Tucker Carlson" because there's literally nothing he could say that I'd listen to. So if I imagine my thoughts of not being good enough coming out of his mouth, it's a hell of a lot easier to ignore. Bruno is a sign that Alberto and Luca are learning how to believe in themselves, and that's a very, very good thing.

As for the community in "Encanto," Bruno Madrigal is presented initially as a villain, but turns out to be the deuteragonist. Bruno's gift is considered disruptive and unwelcome by his family, but had they all actually taken the time to understand what his gift actually meant (instead of pushing him aside), so much heartbreak and turmoil could have been prevented. It's easy to see the back-to-back Bruno shade and assume Disney has it out for Brunos, but perhaps they're actually trying to tell us to pay more attention to the Brunos of the world and meet them with empathy. It's a heavy lift with a gift so humbling, after all.