The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Percival McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)

percival mcleach rescuers down under
PERCIVAL C. McLEACH
Origin: The Rescuers Down Under (1989)

The movie is better than I remembered, but I think it’s more processing than kids can handle. Maybe that’s why it’s Disney’s smallest net gain (although it had a small budget).

It seems like whenever Disney makes the setting part of a character, it fails. Lilo and Stitch did the same thing with Hawaii. It comes off as propaganda. Maybe it’s because the world is smaller and these places aren’t exotic anymore. Maybe because we don’t care about worlds we can visit. We want either worlds we know with fantastic characters (like New York style superheroes) or totally new worlds with ordinary characters (like Lord of the Rings and Guardians of the Galaxy).

Anyway…

motivation mcleach rescuers down under feather

Motivation: McLeach joins the over-populated league of villainous hunters.  Fortunately, he’s the last one in my list (unless you count Shere Kahn). But unlike others, he’s a poacher, meaning he captures or kills animals illegally.  What he does with them from there, I don’t know. I assume he sells them to some other party, dead or alive. Hopefully, he doesn’t get taken advantage of because of his 3rd grade education. I expect his plan is early retirement, maybe with the golden eagle – his particular goal for this movie.

charstrengths mcleach rescuers down under wanted poster

Character Strengths: I really don’t know. Same as the other hunters, I suppose. Tracking, knife skills, doesn’t need supervision, loves working with animals. And he can lie pretty effectively. Well, at least enough to fool a nine-year-old.

evilness mcleach rescuers down under

Evilness: The voice of George C. Scott adds a lot to McLeach’s character. You can tell the guy is having fun.  This and Patton are his finest performances because he makes the part his own.

McLeach follows on the heels of Madame Medusa. Both are in the business of kidnapping small children to do their dirty work. But where it was clever for Medusa to have uncharacteristic sociopathy (greed and child abuse), McLeach is just another in a long line of overly masculine hunters searching for that trophy. Said trophy is probably the last one, so points for that.

tools mcleach rescuers down under

Tools: Having a pet Komodo dragon is pretty neat, but you gotta wonder how much he’d get paid for that. Maybe it’s his backup plan. And the way she’s animated makes her look like a snake with legs, not a lizard.  That, and its gremlin-like voice, results in something that crosses the uncanny valley to something creepy, not a comical henchman.

complement mcleach rescuers down under

Complement to the Hero: I don’t really get Cody. Is he an orphan? How did he find this golden eagle? What does the eagle get out of it? I get that it’s a lion and the mouse thing, but still, it just invites trouble. And how can he talk to animals? Why does he have the same ability Penny does? Are they long lost cousins? And of course, Cody suffers from whiny kid syndrome — acts like a twelve-year-old, even though he’s nine.

fatal flaw mcleach rescuers down under

Fatal Flaw: McLeach’s method of defeat does not reflect his personality. It’s all pretty much by accident, so the most you could say is that either A) he needed to pick more capable henchmen or B) needed to take less risks.

method of death mcleach rescuers down under

Method of Defeat/Death: Cody is suspended in a cage over a river. McLeach is about to shoot the rope in order to drown him, but Joanna accidentally knocks him into Crocodile River. But that doesn’t kill him (too “Temple of Doom” I guess). The crocs swim away after a beating.  Thinking he’s won, he doesn’t see the giant waterfall behind him. Joanna even waves him goodbye. Personally, I think he could have survived it.

final mcleach madame medusa rescuers down under

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Man (Bambi)

blank facebook profile
MAN
Origin: Bambi (1942)

Oooh, I’ve been waiting for this one (rubs hands gleefully).

Fuck this villain. This guy makes every top ten list, but he’s nothing. He’s NOTHING, guys. He’s just a pair of hands in the bushes. You might as well make the iceberg the villain of Titanic. I like that he kills the stupid animals. You know who’s a better villain in this movie? Ronno (the deer that fights Bambi for Faline). He didn’t have any lines either.

man bambi hand

Motivation: I’ve already talked about hunting. (A lot of villain sportsmen in Disney, aren’t there? And there are still a few to go.) But I’m not against it. Nevertheless, what this guy is doing isn’t hunting. I don’t know if he’s even collecting the carcass. For all I know he’s Ted Kaczynski in his shack or drunkenly running around with his buddies. You might as well call him “Gun”. And it misrepresents the activity of hunting.

strengths bambi quail man

Character Strengths: I wish I could put something here, but I can’t because Disney never shows the villain. Instead they show twee animals flitting around being twee. Maybe “accuracy” would apply here.

bambi sad snow

Evilness: Everyone criticizes Man for killing Bambi’s mom and breaking their widdle hearts. Yes, he did kill a deer with a child, which is illegal to do in most of the U.S. But the original book was written in Austria. And if you’re hunting for food, you’ve got to take them when you can get them. He didn’t kill her out of malice or vengeance or insanity. This villain is not us, it is a force of nature, at least according to the animals in the forest. Man is the hand of God — a superior species that is incomprehensible by lesser creatures.

bambi tools man

Tools: I guess he has some dogs, but they are probably the worst hunting dogs in the world. And I don’t even know anything about hunting. First, he’s got like eight of them. Second, they’re huge, like Cujo’s slightly thinner cousins. If they caught Bambi, they’d chew him to the bone before Man even got to him. The hyenas in Lion King weren’t as vicious, and they were wild animals.

bambi wallpaper butterfly tail

Complement to the Hero: I think Bambi might be already dead, because he must be in heaven. There are no bears or cougars or predators in this paradise. The only thing they’re afraid of is big bad Man, the clumsiest of species. Bambi is supposed to be the “Prince of the Forest”, but what are his duties anyway? And why is his deadbeat dad never addressed?

complement bambi

Fatal Flaw: I dunna. When you make the antagonist a pair of hands, it’s kind of hard to give him something to relate to. For all we know, he’s up there in the bushes off camera to the right, pointing a Remington at Bambi’s head.

bambi method of death fire

Method of Defeat/Death: Does not apply. The villain never dies. Originally, Man was to ironically die in the fire he started, but that was cut when they changed his presentation to little better than a ghost. So like I said: don’t hate the player, hate the game.

obama skeet shooting at bambi

Final Rating: 1 star

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Clayton (Tarzan)

clayton tarzan
CLAYTON
Origin: Tarzan (1999)

Clayton is not a very good villain. I’ll just put that out there. He’s like a lot of other Disney villains: foppish, British, egomaniacal, greedy, impatient. You could sub in Ratigan or Governor Ratcliffe and there’d be no real difference. All he does is serve as a plot-moving device. In fact, in the original novel, Clayton is Tarzan’s friend. Because the story is really about Tarzan’s identity crisis.

motivation clayton tarzan gunmotivation clayton tarzan gun

Motivation: GO-RIL-LAS.

Fine, more detail. He accompanied marshmallow dad and British chippy so he could hunt down some gorillas, presumably to mount them on his wall or sell them, providing a paper-thin motivation for a bad guy.

Why did Professor Porter even bring him along? What did he think Clayton was going to do?

charstrengths clayton gun tarzan

Character Strengths: He definitely doesn’t have the look — his clothes and his mustache are ridiculous. Like the evil “Man in the Yellow Hat” from Curious George. You might count that he gets the ship’s crew to commit crimes like kidnapping and poaching. I don’t know if they were always in his pocket or he suddenly coerced them at the last minute. This goes back to what I said about Clayton being a plot-moving villain.

evilness clayton tarzan

Evilness: See Amos Slade regarding hunting. I don’t get it, but I don’t mind it, as long as you’re safe and hunting within the law. By today’s standards, what Clayton’s doing is morally wrong, but was it illegal for his time period? Were gorillas an endangered species? Of course, the original novels were quite racist, violent, and full of misinformation. So there’s no way to win here.

tools clayton tarzan

Tools: He’s got a gun?

It is a big gun.

complement tarzan clayton

Complement to the Hero: There’s a very strong dichotomy here, where Clayton is presented as sophisticated and Tarzan as an animal. Except that Tarzan proves he’s more of a gentleman than Clayton, and Mr. Mustache devolves into primal rage. I have a strong affection for themes about the duality of man, and that’s part of Tarzan’s enduring charm. I also love that it’s Tarzan who creates, by his own regretful volition, the Act 3 conflict that breaks everything. And in the end, Tarzan refuses to kill and be a “man” like Clayton. He wouldn’t be part of any club that would have him as a member.

fatal flaw tarzan clayton

Fatal Flaw: In the big climactic battle, we see the true differences between the hero and villain — what makes a monster and what makes a man. I would say Clayton’s biggest flaw is letting his desire get a hold of him, turning him into the rageful beast he purports to rise above. I’m sure I’ll be reusing this paragraph when I get to Gaston.

method of death clayton tarzanmethod of death clayton tarzan

Method of Defeat/Death: It’s actually fairly gruesome for a Disney movie, even if its only in shadow/semi-off-screen. Clayton attempts to fight Tarzan in his own element (the vines) and gets knotted up. In his rage, he swipes his machete, while Tarzan’s SkyNET eyes analyze the vine pattern and see what he’s about to do. Before Tarzan can warn him, Clayton slices the rest of the vines, except the one around his neck. He falls, and we see the vine yank taut.

final clayton tarzan

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)

amos slade fox and the hound
Origin: The Fox and the Hound (1981)

The Fox and the Hound has the distinction of being the crossroads of the old guard (Disney’s Nine Old Men) with the new guard (Don Bluth, Frank Thomas, John Lasseter, Glen Keane, Brad Bird, and others). Unfortunately, this crossing meant lots of conflicts. This is the movie that motivated Don Bluth to start his own studio, with a bunch of similarly disgruntled Disney animators, that held its own for a few years. Of course, none of this has anything to do with villains, it’s just interesting.

I’m not sure how a villain like Amos Slade would play out these days. Probably get a lot of flack from hunting associations, dog owners, and PETA. He’s not really a bad guy or an evil guy. In fact, maybe the real antagonist is society. Because Copper gets turned into the extension of Slade. And in the end, Copper and Tod both go separate ways and live separate lives, never to see each other again. Does that mean prejudice wins?

Motivation: Amos Slade likes hunting, and he likes being able to hunt. If you want to go beyond that, I guess you’ll have to consult a hunter.  Because I, a well-fed midwesterner, cannot comprehend why someone would want to get up early in the morning to sit in a tree and wait hours and hours for a cute animal that may or may not come so you can kill it. (They have frozen meat at the supermarket, you know.)

Maybe it’s natural urges or the feeling of power, but if he doesn’t get to hunt, he gets cranky. And that damn cutesy-wutesy fox makes things difficult when he befriends his future hunting dog, then almost kills his current one.

Character Strengths: Slade’s good with his gun, better than Clayton (from Tarzan) at least. Other than that, his skills are limited. I can’t imagine his resume has a long list of skills or work experience. It looks like he lives on his own with little dependence on others. Not even sure he has a job — he seems to live off the land. Although most of the time, he’s sleeping in a hammock in his long johns.

Evilness: Now, look, I’ve already said that I don’t get hunting. But I don’t believe hunters or hunting are evil. Hell, Disney is partially responsible for deer overpopulation (more on that when I get to Bambi). But the taking of another’s life for your own gain, when you don’t really need it — that’s a little bit wrong.

Slade’s real evil comes from his pig-headedness and intolerance. He believes that hunting is a way of life and if you’re not predator, you’re prey. But his real motivation for why he breaks into the sanctuary to find that fox is petty revenge.

Tools: The nice thing about Slade is that, besides his gun, his greatest tool is also the movie’s protagonist. With Chief out of commission, Slade raises Copper as his primary hunting dog, who gleefully accepts the mantle of bloodlust. It’s a nice touch, story-telling-wise. Sadly it’s not quite epic enough. I guess I’m spoiled by watching Darth Vader shooting laser ships at everyone, but Slade doesn’t have much to work with.

Complement to the Hero: This is a hard one, because I can’t determine who the hero is. I guess Tod, because he’s the primary protagonist. He’s the one we start and end with. But he and Amos don’t share an origin story (that’s Tod and Copper, as they’re both adopted as young’ins).  They’re not after the same thing.  And they don’t represent two sides of the same coin. Slade is one of those villains that floats out there just to be mean.

Fatal Flaw: The thing that gets Slade in trouble is his self-righteousness and lack of respect for the rules. When he goes hunting in the animal sanctuary, there’s a reason that barrier’s up. But his pride demands that he seek vengeance.

Also, not good with bear detection.

Method of Defeat/Death: While hunting down Tod, the group gets attacked by a bear. After Slade misses his shot, which makes the bear madder, Copper attacks the bear. Tod does too, which ends in them both falling down a waterfall.

We never see the bear again, but Tod, weakened, resurfaces right in Slade’s crosshairs.  However, Copper jumps out in front, refusing to let him take the shot. Slade learns his lesson, and he goes back home, having been defeated by the power of friendship.

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)