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Why Moana Looks So Different In Moana 2

The first "Moana 2" trailer reveals new friends, a new adventure, and Maui (Dwayne Johnson) back in all of his shapeshifting glory. Of course, there's also the matter of the titular heroine, voiced by Auli'i Cravalho, who once again must heed the call of the sea. Not much is provided in the trailer regarding her next quest, but it's bound to be another magical journey filled with peril and toe-tapping musical numbers. For now, the main question on folks' minds may be why Moana looks slightly different than how she appeared in the original 2016 film.

The reason comes down to why we all look different eventually: time. Moana is about 16 years old in the first movie, and "Moana 2" is set three years after those events. That would put her at roughly 19 or 20 years old, so it's understandable she would be aged up a bit. She was just a kid the first time around, and now, she's an adult with a more mature face. 

Undoubtedly, aging the character up a bit also helps with Cravalho's voice acting duties, as it's been eight years between the two movies. She's grown up a lot in the same span of time, so with a more adult voice, she's even better suited to continue portraying this incredible character. 

Auli'i Cravalho is fine passing the baton to someone else for the live-action Moana

"Moana" was Auli'i Cravalho's first movie role, and it clearly means a lot to her. In addition to reprising the character for the sequel, which comes out November 27, she voices Moana for other projects, including the "Disney Dreamlight Valley" video game and the "Once Upon a Studio" short film, which also starred Heihei voice actor Alan Tudyk as the Mad Hatter. It's great to see Cravalho back for "Moana 2," but some fans may be disappointed she won't return for the live-action "Moana" that's also coming down the pipeline. 

Cravalho confirmed that while she's an executive producer for the live-action "Moana" remake, someone else will play the 16-year-old Moana. That makes sense, as Cravalho was 16 herself when "Moana" first arrived in theaters back in 2016, but she's in her 20s now. A younger actor would probably be better suited to play the part opposite Dwayne Johnson's Maui. However, Cravalho sees it as an opportunity to provide greater representation for Pacific Islanders on the big screen. She told The Wrap in an interview, "If it has to start with me — I'm 23, but if it starts with me, so be it. I want that door to swing wide open, and I cannot wait to meet the next Moana."

Luckily, Cravalho's keeping one foot within the franchise, and fans can hear her once more as Moana on her next adventure. And fans can see someone new step into the role when the live-action "Moana" comes out on July 10, 2026.