Dora the Explorer is etched into the brains of a certain generation of early aughts kids, to say nothing of their beleaguered parents. Nick Jr.’s outdoorsy cartoon 7-year-old taught us about the dangers of kleptomania, the utility of both a dependable backpack and physical map, and some basic Spanish.
It’s unlikely that any of this information has been expunged from your memory if you were a Dora diehard in the early 2000s. Alas, it is time to let go, says Nickelodeon Movies, for Dora is no longer the wee exploradora that so many of today’s 20-somethings remember. Dora is a high schooler now, and in the upcoming live-action movie Dora and the Lost City of Gold, she is armed and ready to take on greater, more potentially fatal challenges than, say, how to cross a really tiny river.
Nickelodeon Movies dropped the first trailer for Dora and the Lost City of Gold on Saturday, and it has upended everything that Dora fans once knew. Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow.
Dora’s not a little girl anymore
Dora was a nonviolent elementary schooler in her animated life, which ended in 2017 after nearly two decades on the air. But in her live-action existence, she is decidedly less so. The trailer for Dora and the Lost City of Gold introduces a Dora who has just moved to an American city from “the jungle,” and in the jungle, it is totally appropriate for a teenager to wield a knife. That doesn’t sit quite well with her new classmates, and it appears that much of the movie’s conflict will stem from Dora’s disinterest in acclimating to modern society. Because in this era of high-security checkpoints outside of high schools, Dora’s well-stocked backpack is more than an oddity — it’s a red flag.
After the trailer dropped, social media quickly became a go-to venue for fans of the animated show to seek solace — whether to discuss their concerns regarding Dora’s aptitude with sharp objects or simply to express incredulousness about this hard left turn for the character.
My therapist: Live action Dora the Explorer isn't real. She can't hurt you.— Cedi Fonei (@CediFonei) March 24, 2019
Live action Dora: pic.twitter.com/Z33Ir9f69e
Many fans have also been forced to come to terms with this childhood icon morphing into something who no longer wants to encourage viewers to be bilingual. The educational premise of the animated series is now but a memory; instead, the new movie will set Dora on a path that involves collecting some treasure and saving her missing parents.
It’s understandable that Dora can’t stay a preschooler forever. Indeed, the animated Dora did grow up a bit between her 2000 TV debut and when the series ended 17 years later.
But this is a much more drastic change for the kid-friendly property.
You just have to realize: Somebody looked at Dora the Explorer, a preschool show, and thought to themselves “THAT would be an awesome Indiana Jones movie.”— Raven’s seen some shit (@PowerLoudGirl) March 24, 2019
No sign of Swiper— Virum | Velvet Room (@Virum_SD) March 24, 2019
No singing map or talking backpack
Boots isn't even wearing boots
Dora didn't teach me any Spanish in the trailer
It really be like this sometimes https://t.co/e84sQLpcyI
DORA THE EXPLORER: time to go find that magic star!— the average joe (@jazz_inmypants) March 24, 2019
ME: *hands on my knees* honey where are your parents?
THE MAP: how bout u go over that hill, through the forest, across the river and fuck yourself
ME: *standing up straight* yowza
Still, we must make peace with these changes in 2019, a.k.a. a time when Detective Pikachu says “hell,” Transformers are legitimate tools of destruction, and the Grinch is lusted after by Tumblr teens. It’s nothing new for production companies to seize on the things kids loved years or decades ago and repurpose or reinvent them for a new generation, while capitalizing on the nostalgia they hold. And that nostalgia is as motivating a factor at the box office as anything, whether or not the young adults who remember Dora will want to see a movie like this out of fondness for their childhood hero — or frustration at what she’s become.
Let’s put away the cynicism for a second, though, and recognize that there’s at least some good being done here. Dora the Explorer’s feature film debut means there’s a rare young Latina lead in an action movie (Isabela Moner as Dora). This is a much more welcome change than putting Ryan Reynolds’s voice in Pikachu’s mouth. Maybe Dora no longer needs to just be a big-headed kid; maybe she can be an icon for a new generation of kids.
Dora the Explorer and the Lost City of Gold is in theaters August 2.