This weekend, it’s the battle of the summer blockbusters.
Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer will release in union on 21st July and, while the two movies could not be more dissimilar in nature, they share one thing in common: anticipation for their release dates has reached fever pitch.
The buzz around Barbie is so huge thanks, in part, to a supercharged marketing campaign, which has seen the film completely take over commerce, culture and fashion.
There's also been plenty of hype around the movie's epic cast, which is led by Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, with early watchers of the film labelling Gosling as the standout star of the movie despite initial casting doubts, not to mention the excitement over the movie's soundtrack, which features the likes of HAIM, Ice Spice and Tame Impala.
While this is the first live-action ode to the toy, Barbie has actually appeared in 40 computer-animated films over the years, beginning with Barbie in the Nutcracker in 2001.
The earlier entries took inspiration from classic stories, from fairy tales to literary favourites, before moving on to original narratives, set in magical worlds, royal kingdoms or, a little closer to home, in high school classrooms and present-day New York.
The most recent release is Barbie: Mermaid Power, which landed in 2022, and over the course of those 40 movies, the ever-versatile Barbie has taken on a multitude of roles, from royalty to rock star to spy.
As we await Barbie's release date this summer, why not catch up on some of the previous movies starring the plastic doll. Here’s your guide to her plastic fantastic cinematic world…
How to watch all Barbie movies in release date order
Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001)
Barbie’s younger sister Kelly is struggling to rehearse a ballet solo. To help her, Barbie tells her the story of the Nutcracker, in which a young girl named Clara receives a beautiful nutcracker as a Christmas gift. That night, the toy comes alive to protect Clara from the Mouse King and his soldiers.
Barbie as Rapunzel (2002)
In this spin on the classic fairy tale, Barbie plays Rapunzel, who has spent her whole life trapped in a tower by an evil witch. With the help of her pals Penelope, a dragon, and Hobie, a rabbit, she finds a way to escape to the outside world, where she crosses paths with dashing Prince Stefan.
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Barbie of Swan Lake (2003)
It’s another ballet-inspired outing for Barbie, who this time recounts the story of Swan Lake to little sis Kelly. In the story, Odette is a talented dancer who stumbles into an enchanted forest, where she is transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer who is trying to steal the throne from the Fairy Queen.
Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Inspired by Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, the fourth Barbie movie follows the intertwined stories of two young women born on the same night: Princess Anneliese and commoner Erika. A chance encounter brings the pair, who are identical apart from their hair colour, together, and their friendship helps them foil the plots of evil royal adviser Preminger.
Barbie Fairytopia (2005)
Elina is a flower fairy with no wings, who is often made fun of by her fellow sprites. When a fellow fairy is kidnapped and others start to lose their flying abilities after the evil Laverna releases a poisonous mist into the air, it’s up to Elina to save Fairytopia.
Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus (2005)
When the evil sorcerer Wenlock turns her entire village, including her parents the King and Queen, into statues, Princess Annika is rescued by a winged horse named Brietta, who takes her to the Cloud Kingdom. Here, she learns how she can finally defeat Wenlock - and break a curse that has blighted her family.
The Barbie Diaries (2006)
This time around, Barbie is a typical teenager, preoccupied with school, friends and dating. When she starts writing her hopes and dreams in her new diary, they quickly become true - but there’s a catch, as she soon finds herself neglecting her best friends.
Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia (2006)
Flower fairy Elina gets a second outing in this sequel. This time, Laverna’s back and her minions have kidnapped Elina’s friend, the merman prince Nalu, so our heroine must travel from Fairytopia to Mermaidia to rescue him.
Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses (2006)
Based on the German fairytale, The 12 Dancing Princesses tells the story of King Randolph and his daughters. Barbie plays Genevieve, the most spirited of the 12 siblings, whose lives become stultifying when the King’s cousin Rowena arrives to teach them royal etiquette. Soon they discover a portal to a magical world where they are free to dance all night.
Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007)
In the third Fairytopia movie, Elina and her fellow fairies are tasked with creating the first rainbow of the season. Before they can pull this off, they must study in the Fairy School at the Crystal Palace, but the evil Laverna’s return throws their plans into disarray.
Barbie as the Island Princess (2007)
Rosella is shipwrecked on a tropical island as a baby, and grows up alongside animal friends like Tika the elephant, Azul the peacock and Sagi the red panda. When Prince Antonio arrives on shore, the pair fall in love, and he invites Rosella to travel to his kingdom, where she can start to piece together her past.
Barbie Mariposa (2008)
This Fairytopia spin-off introduces us to Mariposa, a butterfly from Flutterfield, a distant land which is protected by Queen Marabella’s magical lights. When the evil fairy Henna poisons the Queen, though, the lights start to fade away, leaving the kingdom under threat. It’s up to Mariposa and her friends to venture outside Flutterfield and find an antidote.
Barbie and the Diamond Castle (2008)
Best friends Alexa and Liana are given a magical mirror, only to discover that a girl named Melody is trapped inside it. Once they have freed her, Melody tells of how she used to live in the Diamond Castle, until the evil Lydia tried to take over the castle for herself. All three of them soon embark on a quest to lift the curse and end Lydia’s reign over the Diamond Castle.
Barbie in a Christmas Carol (2008)
You’ve seen the Muppets version a thousand times, but did you know Barbie has also starred in her own spin on Charles Dickens’ novel? This time, she plays glamorous but Scroogish singer Eden Starling, who plans to make her fellow performers rehearse on Christmas Day. Will the arrival of three Christmas Spirits make her have a change of heart?
Barbie Thumbelina (2009)
Thumbelina lives in a magical world hidden among the wildflowers, but when a young girl named Makena uproots her patch, she and her friends are moved to a city apartment. Here, she learns that her home is under threat from a construction company’s redevelopment plans.
Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009)
In this Barbie-fied spin on Alexandre Dumas’ classic tale, Corinne is the daughter of the musketeer D’Artagnan, who dreams of following in her father’s footsteps. When she travels to Paris, however, she is mocked and told that girls cannot be musketeers. Undaunted, Corinne teams up with three palace maids who share her ambition.
Barbie in a Mermaid Tale (2010)
Surfing champion Merliah discovers that her mother was the mermaid queen of an underwater kingdom, Oceana, now ruled over by her tyrannical aunt. When Merliah’s magical pendant reveals that her mother, who has been missing for years, is still alive, she travels to Oceana to rescue her, with the help of a friendly dolphin and some new mermaid pals.
Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010)
Devastated after being fired from a film and being dumped by Ken (over the phone - really Ken?) Barbie channels her inner rom-com heroine and heads to Paris to forget her troubles. Here, she visits her fashion designer aunt Millicent, only to learn that the business is about to shut down. Can Barbie and Millicent’s assistant Alice revitalise the brand?
Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011)
When Ken is kidnapped on the orders of a fairy princess who has fallen in love with him, Barbie must team up with her rival Raquelle to travel to the fairy realm and win him back, helped along by her team of fashion stylists (who just so happen to have magical powers of their own).
Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011)
In Princess Charm School, Barbie plays Blair, a waitress who is selected to join a prestigious school where she will learn how to act like a royal lady. She thrives in her lessons and soon befriends her fellow classmates, but when a cold-hearted teacher notes that Blair looks a lot like the kingdom’s missing princess, she starts to do everything she can to stop her from learning of her true identity.
Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011)
It’s the Christmas holidays, and Barbie and sisters Stacie, Skipper and Chelsea are ready to make a festive trip to New York to visit their Aunt Millie. On the way, though, complications force them to make an unexpected stop off in the town of Tannenbaum.
Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2 (2012)
Merliah heads to Australia for a surfing competition in this Mermaid Tale sequel, but while she is away from Oceana, the evil mermaid Eris emerges from her whirlpool and attempts to take over the throne. It’s up to Merliah and her underwater pals to foil this new plot.
Barbie: The Princess and the Popstar (2012)
Keira is a popstar who is starting to feel overwhelmed by her success; Tori is a Princess who finds herself under pressure from the weight of her royal responsibilities. They decide to swap places for the day: both of them believe that they will find the other girl’s life much easier than their own, but their experiences will surprise them.
Barbie in The Pink Shoes (2013)
When ballet dancer Kristyn tries on a new pair of sparkling pink dance shoes, she is drawn into a fantastical world, where she must dance to her favourite ballets like Giselle and Swan Lake in order to defeat the evil Snow Queen. The film is based on the fairy tale of The Red Shoes.
Barbie: Mariposa and the Fairy Princess (2013)
Mariposa ventures from Flutterfield to the kingdom of Shimmervale in her new role as royal ambassador. Her job is to broker peace with Flutterfield’s rivals the Crystal Fairies, but soon, with the help of her new friend Princess Catania, she discovers that a dark fairy is plotting to destroy the realm.
Barbie and her Sisters in a Pony Tale (2013)
Along with sisters Stacie, Chelsea and Skipper, Barbie heads off to Switzerland to spend the summer at a horse riding school. While looking for a horse that she can bring back home to Malibu, she finds a magical wild horse in the woods which seems to be part of a mythical breed.
Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014)
Lumina is a mermaid who’s not just a skilled underwater hairdresser: she also has a magical ability to make pearls change colour and dance. When she’s invited to the royal ball, it’s up to her to stand up to the evil forces attempting to take over the kingdom.
Barbie and the Secret Door (2014)
Princess Alexa would rather be reading than fulfilling royal duties. When she finds a secret door hidden in the palace garden, she is drawn into a world full of magical creatures, and learns that she has special powers of her own, ones which she must use to stand up to the villainous Malucia, who is trying to drain the land of its magic.
Barbie in Princess Power (2015)
A magical butterfly bestows special powers on Princess Kara, transforming her into the heroic Super Sparkle. When her jealous cousin gets wind of Kara’s new alter ego, she finds the butterfly so she can become Dark Sparkle, her nemesis. Can the two put their rivalry aside when the kingdom is threatened?
Barbie in Rock ‘N Royals (2015)
It’s another royal identity swap! A mix-up causes Princess Courtney to trade places with rock star Erika, after the royal is sent to Camp Pop and the singer ends up at Camp Royalty. Making the most of the muddle, they learn more about each other’s very different worlds and make new friends along the way too.
Barbie and Her Sisters in The Great Puppy Adventure (2015)
Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea are back for another sibling tale. This time, the sisters and their new puppy pals return to their hometown and discover an old map in their Grandma’s attic, which might just lead to some long-buried treasure.
Barbie: Spy Squad (2016)
Is there nothing Barbie can’t do? In Spy Squad, she’s recruited by a hush-hush spy agency after the agents are impressed by her gymnastic skills and, along with friends Teresa and Renée, ends up tracking a cat-burglar who has so far managed to elude detection.
Barbie: Star Light Adventure (2016)
Star Light Adventure sees Barbie as a space princess, surfing through the cosmos on her hoverboard with her pet Pupcorn at her side. When the stars start to flicker in the sky, it’s up to Barbie to travel to a new planet to join the mission to save the galaxy.
Barbie and Her Sisters in a Puppy Chase (2016)
Barbie and her siblings travel to a tropical island to support Chelsea as she competes in a dance competition. Before the big contest, they visit the nearby Dancing Horse Festival, but end up getting separated from their puppies along the way. Can they find their pets before Chelsea is due on stage?
Barbie Video Game Hero (2017)
Transported into the world of her favourite video game, Barbie embarks on a roller-skating adventure, accompanied by a magical cloud named Cutie and a princess named Bella. As they move from level to level, they must attempt to defeat the evil emoji that is trying to wrest control of the game.
Barbie Dolphin Magic (2017)
Accompanied by her sisters, Barbie heads to the tropical island where Ken is completing a marine biology internship. There, she meets a mermaid, discovers a rare dolphin that only visits annually - and learns that Ken’s boss wants to exhibit it to make money. Can Barbie help the dolphin to reunite with his family?
Barbie Princess Adventure (2020)
Princess Amelia is worried about taking on the responsibility of becoming Queen, so she hatches a plan to swap places with her lookalike Barbie, who is in the princess’s home country of Floravia on an exchange trip.
Barbie & Chelsea: The Lost Birthday (2021)
Barbie and family head off on an adventure cruise to mark youngest sister Chelsea’s seventh birthday. When the boat crosses the International Date Line, though, Chelsea thinks that her birthday has been lost, and heads on a quest through an enchanted jungle in a bid to bring it back.
Barbie: Big City, Big Dreams (2021)
Malibu Barbie heads to New York to attend a summer acting programme, where she meets.. Brooklyn Barbie. The two quickly become best pals, but find themselves competing for a chance to perform a solo in Times Square. It’s the chance of a lifetime, but which Barbie will end up in the spotlight?
Barbie: Mermaid Power (2022)
The two Barbies, along with the usual squad of Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea, are transformed into mermaids in order to help their friend Isla, who first appeared in Dolphin Magic. They must take part in a series of challenges to see who will be crowned the power keeper of the underwater kingdom.