- “I believe that we can be Kumandra again. But someone has to take the first step.”
- ―Chief Benja knows that Raya can take her first step.
Benja is a character in Disney's 2021 animated feature film, Raya and the Last Dragon. He is the chief of Heart in Kumandra and Guardian of the Dragon Gem, a role shared with his daughter, Raya. Amidst the polarization of Kumandra's five lands, Benja believed that unity would be possible if someone were to “take the first step.”
- Known as “the baddest blade in the five lands,” Benja is Raya’s beloved father and legendary Guardian of the Dragon Gem. As Chief of Heart, he’s an idealistic and bold visionary who believes that Kumandra is broken because the people of the different lands don’t trust each other. Benja seeks to reunite the fractured kingdom of Kumandra and restore harmony.
Role in the film
As a young Raya enters a cave containing the sacred Dragon Gem, Benja prevents his daughter from touching. In order to prepare Raya for her adventure, Benja trains with his daughter to help her practice becoming protector of the Gem by engaging in a combat. After a tough training, he declares his daughter as the Guardian of the Dragon Gem. He then explains that for generations, his family has sworn to protect the Gem as he explains to Raya that she will join the legacy.
Back at home, Raya explains to her father that anyone who is in possession of the Dragon Gem should face their fears of the two baddest blades in the land. Benja continues explaining to his daughter that the tribes from Tail, Talon, Spine, and Fang are on their way to Heart to which Raya devises a feast for all the tribes so that the tribes can be reunited in harmony. Instead of using crossbows and catapults to end the war, Benja suggests an alternative way to stop the feud by making a soup for them, which he uses shrimp paste from Tail, lemongrass from Talon, bamboo shoots from Spine, chilis from Fang, and palm sugar from Heart as a peaceful alternative. He then gains faith in Raya believing the tribes can be reunited with each other just as he hopes that the tribes can be reunited.
At the Land of Heart, the tribes from Tail, Talon, Fang, and Spine arrive and are gathered during a feast where Benja plans to reunite all five tribes in peace and harmony. During the event, the Chief of Heart starts to accept them to be welcomed, but later notices Namaari's betrayal to Raya (as marked by a flare launched by Namaari) and upon seeing a group of Fang soldiers in possession of the Gem, he engages into a combat with multiple feuding soldiers and chiefs. He explains to the quarreling tribes he gives them two choices: fight so that Kumandra would fall or live together in harmony to make Kumandra a better place just as he puts faith in himself that Kumandra would be reunited again. However, an archer fires an arrow at Benja in revenge just as the tribes continue fighting over the Gem, much to Benja's worry just as the Druun arrive at Kumandra.
As the Druun begin plaguing the land of Kumandra, Benja tries to escape from the Druun, but is too weak to go on, due to the injury he had after getting hit by the arrow. Raya tries to help her father escape the Druun, but he is too weak to go with her. He then tells his daughter to go without her just as Benja ends up getting petrified by the Druun in an unfortunate result, leading Raya and Tuk Tuk on a quest to reunite all the Gem shards to wipe away the Druun before Kumandra falls.
Later when Raya and Sisu return to the land of Heart, Raya places a flower on the statue of her father just as she hopes that he would recognize his daughter after her return from a long journey in Kumandra as Raya and Sisu plan to get to Fang to encounter Namaari again.
As the Dragon Gem's pieces are put back in place and the Dragon Gem restored, everyone petrified by the Druun is restored back to normal form just as Benja happily reunites with Raya, who sees her after the Druun are wiped away from the power of the Gem. Benja then sees Sisu just as she tells him that his daughter saved Kumandra just as she tells him that she brought him friends. Everyone else (including the rest of the tribes Benja talked to) is welcomed to Kumandra in rejoice upon approaching Raya's father.