Disney villains table

Analyzing the Disney Villains

Hooray! It’s the new year. How about a new series? Since I’m done with Featured Fan Fiction, I gotta have something else to write about.

You know what I love? The concept of good versus evil. What makes someone evil? What’s the definition of evil? If someone steals food to feed their family, is that evil? Are the heroes so good even though they’re constantly trying to kill the bad guy?

dastardly villain snidely whiplash

Remember this gem that circulated the net about a year back. A famous television listing by Rick Polito for The Wizard of Oz: “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.” Or Scalzi’s offering for Star Wars: “Disaffected farm boy destroys military installation, killing thousands.” (Find more gems here) The empire is just another government and these rebel separtists are trying to constantly usurp their objective of galaxial unification. Every good guy is someone else’s bad guy.

A hero is only as good as its villain. Everyone remembers Darth Vader, nobody remembers Luke Skywalker. Hannibal Lecter had four movies of awesomeness all about him. And he’s the bad guy! Mr. Potter, Norman Bates, Hal 9000. Sometimes you don’t even need to see the villain, like the xenomorph from Alien, the shark in Jaws, and Man in Bambi.

Disney villains

Disney’s famous for characters — heroes, villains, and secondaries alike. The heroes and heroines have been analyzed quite a bit, especially princesses — is Ariel a lovesick ditz or headstrong adventurer? Why are the princes such lifeless duds? Is Mushu racist? Where is Pocahontas’s nose?

And villains are fascinating to begin with, because they all represent our dark sides, which we all have if we get too much power. Think about it — if anyone got the powers of Superman, they would go just like in Megamind. So what do you get when you combine nostalgic Disney movies with a love for the theme of “good vs. evil”? You get “Analyzing the Disney Villains”.

I’ll be judging each Disney villain from their trove of animated movies, and evaluating what makes them good, what makes them bad, and giving a final rating. What sort of criteria do you use for that? I couldn’t find much online so I made up my own.

Motivation – What does he or she want? This includes the stakes for losing that thing he/she wants, and the root cause of that motivation.

Character Strengths – No bad guy is completely lacking of good qualities. At least they shouldn’t be. Two-Face is a good lawyer. Verbal Kint was a good storyteller. Moby Dick is good at… being a whale. This category will also include anything they might enjoy that doesn’t contribute to their greed or malice, but their character.

Evilness – On the opposite end, how bad are they? What do they do that defines them as evil? Do they eat kittens? Run a Ponzi Scheme? Double dip the chip?

Tools – What powers does the villain have? What are the tools at their disposal? How does the villain stop the hero from getting what he/she wants?

Complement to the hero – A good villain should be the other side of the hero’s coin. That just makes the hero’s journey that much harder. Draco Malfoy is everything Harry Potter could have been, if he’d sided differently. Batman and The Joker. Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham. But sometimes you get villains that float out there, like Lex Luthor or any James Bond villain.

Fatal Flaw – Heroes don’t win because they were faster with a sword or dumb luck. They win because evil brings about its own end. Like Julius Caesar’s hubris or Jack Torrance’s blind alcoholic rages. A good fatal flaw is the key to a villain’s downfall.

Method of Defeat/Death – This one will be more or less objective. I’ll be rating on the cinematic-ness of the villain’s death. Some will be harder than others: Jaws’s head blows up by gas tank, Jaws bites a power cord and gets electrocuted, Jaws’s head blows up again by grenade, Jaws gets stabbed by a ship’s prow. All look pretty good on screen, but Jaws was cinematic to begin with. Meanwhile Count Dracula usually gets killed by sunlight, where he either crumbles to ash, kind of explodes, or disappears in a puff of smoke. Sometimes he’s staked or stabbed which often leads to a milder climax. And sometimes he’s just sort of… killed ambiguously.

Final Rating – And finally, I give a X out of five star rating. Consider it the seal of approval for either using a daguerrotype of this villain in a story, or a villain that could use some improving on.

disney villains

Final note: I WON’T be doing EVERY animated Disney movie, for a few reasons. One is that some of them simply don’t have villains: Fantasia, The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, and Dinosaur (which was just a shill for CGI and a rip-off of The Land Before Time). Likewise, I won’t be doing any of the cartoon compilation movies like Fun and Fancy Free or Saludos Amigos (with one exception). And I won’t be doing any of the movies I haven’t seen and refuse to see. These are the bombs that were made after the Disney Renaissance in the 90’s. Those include Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt. Maybe you love them, maybe you think the list is complete without them. If that’s the case, write your own analysis.

So now as the magical negro Jiminy Cricket says, on with the show!

Jiminy Cricket


By Movie

By Year

101 Dalmatians: Cruella De Vil
The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad: Ichabod Crane
Aladdin: Jafar
Alice in Wonderland: The Queen of Hearts
The Aristocrats: Edgar
Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Rourke
Bambi: Man
Beauty and the Beast: Gaston
Big Hero 6: Yokai
Bolt: The Agent
Brother Bear: Nobody
The Black Cauldron: The Horned King
Chicken Little: Buck Cluck
Cinderella: Lady Tremaine
The Emperor’s New Groove: Yzma
Encanto: Abuela
The Fox and the Hound: Amos Slade
Frozen: Prince Hans
Frozen II: The spirits
Fun and Fancy Free: Willie the Giant
The Great Mouse Detective: Ratigan
Hercules: Hades
Home on the Range: Alameda Slim
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Claude Frollo
The Jungle Book: Shere Khan
Lady and the Tramp: Aunt Sarah
Lilo & Stitch: Cobra Bubbles
The Little Mermaid: Ursula
The Lion King: Scar
Meet the Robinsons: Bowler Hat Guy
Moana: Maui
Mulan: Shan Yu
Oliver and Co.: Sykes
Peter Pan: Captain Hook
Pinocchio: Stromboli, Gideon & Honest John, the Coachman, and Monstro
Pocahontas: Governor Ratcliffe
The Princess and the Frog: Dr. Facilier
Ralph Breaks the Internet: Ralph
The Rescuers: Madame Medusa
The Rescuers Down Under: Percival C. McLeach
Robin Hood: Prince John
Sleeping Beauty: Maleficent
Snow White & the Seven Dwarves: The Evil Queen
The Sword in the Stone: Madam Mim
Tangled: Mother Gothel
Tarzan: Clayton
Treasure Planet: John Silver
Wreck-It Ralph: King Candy
Zootopia: Dawn Bellwether

The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs – 1937)
Stromboli, Gideon & Honest John, the Coachman, and Monstro (Pinocchio – 1940)
Man (Bambi – 1942)
Willie the Giant (Fun and Fancy Free – 1947)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad – 1949)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella – 1950)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland – 1951)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan – 1953)
Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp – 1955)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty – 1959)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians – 1961)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone – 1963)
Shere Khan (The Jungle Book – 1967)
Edgar (The Aristocats – 1970)
Prince John (Robin Hood – 1973)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers – 1977)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound – 1981)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron – 1985)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective – 1986)
Sykes (Oliver and Company – 1988)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid – 1989)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under – 1990)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast – 1991)
Jafar (Aladdin – 1992)
Scar (The Lion King – 1994)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas – 1995)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame – 1996)
Hades (Hercules – 1997)
Shan Yu (Mulan – 1998)
Clayton (Tarzan – 1999)
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove – 2000)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire – 2001)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo & Stitch – 2002)
John Silver (Treasure Planet – 2002)
Nobody (Brother Bear – 2003)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range – 2004)
Buck Cluck (Chicken Little – 2005)
Bowler Hat Guy (Meet the Robinsons – 2007)
The Agent (Bolt – 2008)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog – 2009)
Mother Gothel (Tangled – 2010)
King Candy (Wreck-It Ralph – 2012)
Prince Hans (Frozen – 2013)
Yokai (Big Hero 6 – 2014)
Dawn Bellwether (Zootopia – 2016)
Maui (Moana – 2016)
Ralph (Ralph Breaks the Internet – 2018)
The spirits (Frozen II – 2019)
Abuela (Encanto – 2021)

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.


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