Wednesday, February 21, 2007

DISNEY VILLAINS - BEST AND WORST

My feet are really cold. And instead of getting slippers, I decided to write this blog.

The other day in my character design class we were discussing our favorite Disney villains. It got me thinking... what makes a great villain? What is it that makes someone truly villainous? I went through the list of Disney villains and discovered there are four basic villain types: Silly, Power-Hungry, Animal Killer, Evil.

The Silly villains are like Clayton (Tarzan), Captain Hook (Peter Pan)and Gaston (Beauty and the Beast). They're basically plot elements for the story. There needs to be a villain, but the movie wouldn't be the same with a truly evil villain. They're mostly stupid or oblivious.

The Power-Hungry villains would be Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Hades (Hercules) and Jafar (Aladdin). Their motivation is simply that they're not at the top and they'll get rid of anyone who stands in their way of getting there.

The Animal Killer category I know seems weird, but I think it deserves its own classification. Is Cruella (101 Dalmations) power hungry? Is McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under) really pure evil? The reason we hate them is because they're trying to kill our heroes simply because they're animals. Would Cruella kill a human? No, probably not.

The Evil villains are the villains who have no motivation to harm others or do the bad things they do. They're pure evil. We really hate them, even though they're just a bunch of drawings moving quickly in front of us.

So my Top 5 Disney Villains list consists of the following truly evil villains:

1. Judge Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
2. Scar (The Lion King)
3. The Queen/Witch (Snow White)
4. Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
5. The Stepmother (Cinderella)

I realize the last three have motivation in that their status or power is being threatened by the main character. But the reason I put the Wicked Witch and Stepmother on there is because they're heartless towards girls who should be treated as their own daughters. The Wicked Witch actually tries to have Snow White killed. And Shere Khan has what I would call the same kind of evil as the Borg from Star Trek. When he shows up, you know you're screwed. All of the animals of the jungle are scared to death at the mention of his name. He rules the jungle because his threatening presence has given him that power. I think he's one of the scariest Disney villains.

Scar is very similar to the two stepmothers. He does have motivation - he wants to be in charge. He is a power hungry villain. But whereas the stepmothers tried to get rid of daughters who weren't technically related to them... Scar kills his own flesh and blood. There's also the manipulation factor that really twists him.

My top, most evil, most despicable villain of all time is Judge Claude Frollo. He's racist, judgemental, cruel... and he does it all in the name of God. He judges on appearance. He manipulates. And everything he does is to make him look good before God. We're never really given a real motivation for why is the way he is, other than his religion. To me, he's as evil as they come.

And just because I feel like it... here are my Top 5 Worst Disney Villains:
1. Sir Ector (Sword in the Stone)
2. Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
3. Prince John (Robin Hood)
4. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
5. Clayton (Tarzan)

Not that I don't like these characters. They just aren't great villains. And then there are movies like Dumbo and Bambi that just don't really have villains. Maybe that's why they put me to sleep. Let me know how you would rate your villains!

9 comments:

toast said...

Great post Katie! I would definitely put Frollo in my top five best villains.

I might also say I like John Silver from Treasure Planet. I know he's not really evil, he's a pirate. But I really like his character that is torn between what he wants and what he knows is right.

The villain in Bambi is 'man' and they are the worst kind of 'Animal Killer' villain because we don't even see them on screen. They kill Bambi's mom in cold blood. We don't know motives, we don't see what they do after. I think that is far more menacing than Cruella DeVil.

coolshades said...

Ok I read the first sentence and knew it must have been you blogging, Katie. Only a gal would talk about having cold feet and needing slippers :P

I concur with Kurtis that "man" is the villain in Bambi. In fact, "man" in Bambi was voted one of the top 25 villains of all time by the American Film Institute a few years ago.

It would take me a long time to come up with my top five disney villains. Here are a few of them, in no particular order:

Hades
Foulfellow
Scar
The Sheriff of Nottingham
Kronk

Ok those were the first five I could think of...I'm sure there are others, though...

And is Sir Ector really a villain? I always thought Madam Mim was the only villain in Sword in the Stone...

toast said...

i don't think I would consider Kronk to be a villain. He was just hired help. It was Ezma that was the villain.

Katie said...

I'd say Sir Ector is the villain because he's the one holding the main character back. He's the one that punishes him, keeps him from seeing Merlin, and makes his life boring and lame. Madam Mim is no more a villain than the shark when they're fish, and the squirrels in the trees. She's just another plot device.

And I know Man would be the villain in Bambi. But that doesn't make the movie any more interesting ;)

coolshades said...

I consider Kronk a villain because of his close association with Yzma. He's constantly working with her to bring down the good guys, even though he sucks at it. LOL

Maybe I always considered Madam Mim the villain because she fought and tried to kill Merlin...and to me, Merlin was the star of The Sword in the Stone. :P

starlac said...

Interesting post…

I can’t really say I’ve really like the phrase villain, although in many films it is an apt one. I prefer films (Disney and otherwise) were the world isn’t quite so black and white; or where time is the ultimate enemy. If there is an antagonist, I’d rather their actions weren’t completely, absolutely evil. That’s probably why my favourite Disney films have no set villains; just antagonists or, less.

Of course my top five favourite Disney movies (in no particular order) are: Bambi, Fantasia 2000 (the original has sent me to sleep at times), Lady & the Tramp, Lilo & Stitch and Tarzan. None of these films have any real villain per se (bar Tarzan). Of course on the flip side, some of my least favourite Disney films also don't have any 'real' villains.

One rhetorical question…

Is Clayton a real villain*, even a ‘silly’ one, generally I felt that if you took a sideways glance at his actions and put them alongside the view of the world in the films timeline (mid-late 18th Century), I think that his bringing back these ‘animals’ to the world’s zoos would have been seen as an advancement of science by many. I mean, once the big game hunter was viewed as a hero of zoological understanding and the only means most people would have had to see those animals alive. Of course this doesn’t agreed with today’s, my own, or Tarzan’s sensibilities; thus he becomes the villain.

*Personally, I do think that he’s the film central villain, if only because Sabor the Leopard kills his prey as a natural predator: without the aloof malice of Shere Khan.

Would Curella ever kill a human? I doubt it. On the other hand McLeach did attempt to kill Cody in the end by feeding him to the Crocs, rather than risk him going to the Ranger. The enjoyment he got out of this act (and the act itself) didn’t really provide any more empathy to me. Of course this was also due to a lot of frustration towards the boy’s refusal to tell him the eagle’s location.

I do think you hit the nail pretty much on the head with that list of Disney's most evil villains.

Katie said...

Great comment, Starlac! I agree that it's far more realistic when movies don't have black & white "here's the villain... and here's the hero." I think the whole X-Men storyline is a great example of that. But at the same time, my definition of "villain" is someone with no redeeming values to the point that you can't help but hate them. There's nothing "misunderstood" about them... they're just nasty.

Interesting view point on Clayton, by the way. I'd never thought of it that way before.

Flu-Bird said...

PRINCE JOHN from ROBIN HOOD he taxes the good citizens of NOTTINGHAM and send those who cant pay to prison THE SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM takes money away from little skippy on his birthday.HOPPER from A BUGS LIFE a evil grasshopper who eventiialy gets fed to a birds little nestlings.SCAR from THE LION KING would stoop to murdering his brother and framming SIMBA.THE EVIL QUEEN from SNOWHITE AND THE 7 DAWARVES would have someone else do her dirty work for her and then use a magic pootion to change into a old hag.STROMBOLLI from PINOCIO locks poor pinnocio in a cage and MOMSTERO a ferocous whale. KAA and SHIRE KHAN from THE JUNGLE BOOK want to eat a little boy.

Anonymous said...

Frollo...

Hypocrisy
Abuse
Deliberate Injustice
Bigotry/Prejudice/Bias
Societal manipulation
Racism
Malice(takes delight in killing and/or persecuting "heathens")
Corruption
Lust(the one thing that separated him from other villains)
Massacre

etc

malef and cherny would peek in their closets to check if Frollo is inside