wreck-it ralph

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Ralph (Ralph Breaks the Internet)

Origin: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

So we have another antagonist-less Disney movie. Who is the villain of this piece? Is it the virus? Is it Shank? Is it… is it Ralph?

I can’t see a way that it’s not. For one thing, they are fighting a bunch of Ralph clones at the end. For another, the antagonist is defined as the person standing in the protagonist’s way. Who is the protagonist? It’s not Ralph. Ralph doesn’t need to change. His life is perfect (he even says so). Therefore the protagonist is Vanellope–she wants to change. And Ralph doesn’t want to let her.

Motivation: Vanellope wants a life less predictable. She’s a racer playing the same three courses over and over. When they venture into the Internet, Vanellope finds a different game that fulfills all her needs. But Ralph doesn’t want to lose his friend. Throughout the movie, he clearly demonstrates how he wants things to stay the way they are. He would be happy doing the same thing day after day after day. But his friend Vanellope is part of that routine. To lose her is to lose everything he achieved in the last movie.

Character Strengths: He has a sense of humor (juvenile though it might be) and no sense of pride. Everything he does is well-meaning.

Ralph is brave and persistent. He is one of those guys that won’t stop trying, no matter how much abuse he takes. (It helps that he’s a video game villain and built to take abuse). That makes him a good friend. But it makes him a bad friend when he needs to let that person go.

Evilness: Not at all. He gets no joy out of the pain of others. The only “evil” desires are rooted in selfishness, in that he doesn’t want to feel bad. Well, who couldn’t identify with that? I wouldn’t want my best friend to leave. But he is needy and clingy and self-destructive when it comes to dealing with emotional problems.

Tools: Of course, there’s his big ham fists that he uses to “wreck it”, but he doesn’t use them much in this sequel. What he does use is a virus from his friend J.P. Spamley that scans for insecurities in the program and replicates them. The movie takes some liberties with what an “insecurity” is when it scans Ralph, finds him to be 100% insecure, and starts replicating throughout the entire Internet, causing mass chaos.

Complement to the Hero: Our hero is Vanellope, and yes, she’s a perfect compliment to Ralph, as she was in the first movie when she played deuteragonist. She’s little, he’s big. She’s weak, he’s strong. She’s brash and witty, he’s dull and dumb. She’s a good guy, he’s a bad guy. But they’re good friends. They both enjoy childish humor and they’re both outcasts.

But she identifies as a racer, and that means challenge. So she seeks out greener pastures. This is the opposite of Ralph who is happy where he is because he got what he wanted in the first movie. She’s ready to try something new whereas Ralph is not.

Fatal Flaw: The movie itself has no sense of subtext. It clearly declares Ralph to be needy, clingy, and self-destructive. All this really boils down to the sin of greed. Very common, very basic, very understandable to little kids. He demonstrated this fatal flaw in the first movie by his path of destruction on the way to get his medal so he can be a good guy. Vanellope taught him that being a good guy is more than just having a medal.

The same medal comes back to haunt him when he really screws up and gets Vanellope kicked out of the game she wanted to be in. This leads to the Ralph clones that are the personification of all Ralph’s fears and self-doubts. You can also see this when he can’t stand Vanellope separating from him when she wants to help spread Ralph’s viral videos through the Internet.

Method of Defeat: Ralph’s virus insecurities morph into a giant King Kong-like virus-Ralph (one of the creepiest things I’ve seen in an animated Disney movie for a long time). But the real Ralph concedes that he has to let her go. It’s going to hurt, but holding back your friends is not friendship. This “fixes his insecurity” and giant mega-Ralph dissolves into golden light.

Final Rating: Three stars

Previous Analyses
Dawn Bellwether (Zootopia)
Bowler Hat Guy (Meet the Robinsons)
John Silver (Treasure Planet)
Yokai (Big Hero 6)
The Agent (Bolt)
The Spirits (Frozen II)
King Candy (Wreck-It Ralph)
Abuela (Encanto)
Prince Hans (Frozen)
Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

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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