* Donald's characterization in this movie. Cowardice has never been his biggest flaw, or even a huge part of his personality. Not that he hasn't shown cowardice, but no more than any of the other characters. His major traita has always been his temper, and it only is really displayed in one scene in this movie (when Troubadour sings his YouSuck song). It's not like it couldn't work as a believable flaw (it had been working for over half a century till that point), Pete could say he's too much of a loose cannon, that he flies off the handle at any slight (except, you kno, the way Pete would say), and that Muskateers need disipline.
** Maybe they thought that a constantly angry character wouldn't be fun to watch. Or that he would be a too good fighter by always charging in...
** Actually, this is a bit of FridgeBrilliance: Donald being a coward is an established part of his character; it's just that this particular trait is more a staple of the Donald who appears in [[DisneyMouseAndDuckComics comic books and strips]] than Donald in animation -- and this movie is narrated from a comic book!
*** [[DependingOnTheWriter It varies from story to story]] just how cowardly he is, though a fair rule of thumb is that if there's another character with him who can play the brave hero (like Mickey or Uncle Scrooge) Donald is usually portrayed as a bit of a coward as a contrast; he's all gung-ho as long as there's no actual danger involved, but when things get scary he's just as likely to lose his nerve. For a good example of a "cowardly Donald," you can check out the classic Floyd Gottfredson comic, ''The House of Seven Haunts'' from 1936.
*** Yes, it most certainly does [[DependingOnTheWriter vary between comic book authors]]. The example of Floyd Gottfredson isn't a very good one since he's always been credited more of a Mickey Mouse author rather than a Donald one so of course, his Mickey would be the hero. But there are plenty of Barks' and even some of Don Rosa's comics (and Don Rosa is usually notorious for making Donald even more unlucky and "cowardly" than Barks' or his animated counterpart ever was!) where Donald demonstrates bravado like [[http://www.zocoi.com/books/209-scrooge-mcduck-the-black-knight-glorps-again "The Black Knight Glorps Again"]] where Donald almost sacrifices himself in trying to stop a thief with armour that acts like a black hole which destroys everything it touches! There are also examples of Donald's bravery in the newer European comics. And let's not forget that it was his incarnation in the comics that gave us Donald's avenger/superhero alter ego, [[PaperinikNewAdventures Paperinik/Duck Avenger]] as well as his secret agent alter ego, DoubleDuck! So although his cowardice might show up more in the comics than in the cartoons, he's only scared when there's actual danger, not at the drop of a hat like they portrayed him in the movie! And even then, he usually does still face his fears head on!
**** Like I said: Varies from story to story. If one story demands that Donald be a FearlessFool, then he will be. If the story demands that he's a LovableCoward, he will be that. The great thing about Donald is that his personality is flexible enough that he can play both these roles and not come across as OOC.
***** Except that it ''does'' comes across as OOC, especially when the majority of his other cartoons and many of his comics don't usually portray that side of him and that's why so many of his fans have called Disney out on this! In fact, in many Italian comics concerning medieval times, he's often portrayed as a OneManArmy or MasterSwordsman and has been shown to ''single-handedly defeat whole armies'' and perform incredible feats of strength including '''lifting up an entire catapult and hurling it at the Beagle Boy army!''' These comics included: [[https://www.scribd.com/doc/251816397/1-Paperino-Il-Paladino-Topolino-0247-0248 "Paperino Il Paladino,"]] [[http://www.comicartcity.com/immagini/griglia/2011/12/16/bottaro-paperac-jpg-1.jpg "Paperin de Paperac,"]] [[https://www.scribd.com/doc/251816396/2-Paperin-Furioso-Topolino-0544 "Paperin Furioso]] and [[http://duckcomicsrevue.blogspot.com/2014/01/donald-fracas.html "Paperino Fracas"]] and this last one is a good example of how he's capable of feeling fear, but still chooses to aggressively charge headfirst and fight since his aggression has almost always been a part of his character ever since his second appearance in "Mickey's Orphans' Benefit" (1934)! And the best part is that most of these examples ''weren't'' AllJustADream. "Paperino Il Paladino" was set in that time period, "Paperin Furioso" had Witch Hazel send him back in time, and "Paperino Fracas" actually gave him that experience via magic! This means that Donald really ''is'' that strong and brave and good a warrior!
******* And those are examples of stories where Donald ''is'' portrayed as brave. There are still a lot of comic stories where he ''isn't.'' I grew up on Disney comics in the 80s and 90s, and I read more examples of the latter than the former (maybe I just read the wrong stories), so to me Donald usually came across more of a LovableCoward but with a number of LetsGetDangerous moments. (I tend to view the Duck Avenger and Double Duck stories as alternate continuities... [[NegativeContinuity insofar as there is a continuity at all in the]] DisneyDucksComicUniverse.) I'd say it's more CharacterExaggeration than a case of OOC, because I recognized Donald in the movie. His cowardice was exaggerated for comic effect, and his temper downplayed perhaps a bit too much because it would clash with his flaw-of-the-movie, but I still hold that Donald's cowardly streak is not something unique to this movie and has been one of Donald's traits in many other stories.