The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

A Disney Blog Survey

disney survey

I’m pretty much done with the Disney Villains analysis. Unless I somehow catch “Bolt” or “Treasure Planet” in a moment of drunken weakness, the list is complete. So how about a little Disney survey I found on some blog.

Favorite villian?

Well, this is a hard one to choose. After scrutinizing them all, I’ve got so many that tickle my cookies.

I like Hades just because he’s so funny and “out-there”. Sure, lump me in with the fangirls if you must — I like what I like. Plus he fits in neatly anywhere — the “Hercules” TV series, Kingdom Hearts, House of Mouse — he’s good in any situation. Yzma‘s much the same. I bet they could make a solid duo.

I also have to give props to Prince Hans. People still talk about how this Prince Charming fooled them all, and I count myself among that group of fools. Kudos to you, Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris. It takes a strong story to pull me away from my super critic. And Ichabod gets the same credit. Seventy years later, who thought this lanky fool was the movie’s bad guy?

Madame Medusa is an underrated villain because… damn, girl, she’s just mean. Who kidnaps an orphan to shove into a well to mine for diamonds? At least Cruella just messed with puppies. And the Queen of Hearts is memorable for the same regard, though it’s more for bark than bite. But what a bark!

But if you got to make me choose, I’ll pick Ursula, for purely personal reasons. Not to say she’s not a good villain. She’s spot on for motivation, powers, henchmen, and personality.

Scene that always makes you cry?

 

I thought the part where Anna and Elsa’s parents die in Frozen was a particularly good bit of filmmaking — in that it made me feel an emotion. It’s unexpected, it’s early in the film, and it’s done without words. I mean, yeah, Disney’s known for killing off parents, but not usually after establishing character.

If I was younger, I probably would have said “Baby Mine” from Dumbo — at that age, I couldn’t think of anything worse than your mother behind bars, unable to be touched but for the trunk she can just barely stretch out the window. And this is “circus prison”, not no comfy Orange is the New Black holding facility.

But my favorite is in Wreck-It Ralph. The whole movie speaks to me and not just because it’s about video games. Ralph’s whole life has been labeled as a villain. But he’s not really a bad guy — he’s a necessary part of life. The other side of the coin. The yang to the yin. Without him, there’s no game. Us cynics and analysts can sympathize — no one wants to hear what we have to say because we’re always right.

Throughout the story, he struggles to be “good”, to “earn that medal”, but ultimately fails when he has to return to his role as the heartless villain to save the girl he’s bonded with. At the end, the only way to save everyone is to sacrifice himself by plunging into the volcano to set off a giant Diet Coke-Mentos explosion. And as he plummets with his meaty fist outstretched, he repeats the video game villain’s mantra to himself for strength and resolve: “I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be than me.”

Best multi-movie series?

I’m lucky that all but the bad Disney movies have gotten direct-to-DVD sequels, so I can just pick my favorite, which is The Little Mermaid. The second one is awful and the third one is average, but no one said I had to sit through the others.

But if we’re disqualifiing the home videos, I’d say Winnie-the-Pooh is my favorite of the theatricals. It’s got the strongest characters and the most lovable story. I can’t believe that my kids never got into it.

But if we are including the DVD sequels AND I’ve got to count all of them together, I’d say Aladdin has the strongest showing. Tarzan is a close second, with the excellent Tarzan II.

Movie you wish there was a sequel to?

Big Hero 6 and Zootopia come to mind immediately, but I have to make exception for them since they are so recent, so there may be plans already in the works. I’d love to see what happens next in Zootopia with Nick and Judy working as police partners in a true buddy cop film. Watching them together was the highlight of the movie. And Big Hero 6? It’s a superhero movie — it was MADE to have a sequel, even if you don’t count the after-credits scene. I don’t care how they got their powers, I want to see everyone use their powers. Also, more fluffy robot.

If we’re talking entries in the past, I wouldn’t mind seeing a follow-up to Pinocchio. There’s a lot of material from the books that wasn’t used (most for good reason, let’s just say it), but there’s still a lot of angles to take. Even if we aren’t doing a midquel, and continue from when Pine-Eyes is a real boy, there’s still plenty of human exploration to go. Star Trek milked it for decades, why can’t Disney?

And personally, I want to see more of Merida from Brave. She’s got the strongest personality of any Disney princess, including the most recent ones. It shouldn’t have to suffer in obscurity because it had directorial problems as Disney and Pixar changed hands. Just look at Pocket Princesses and tell me you can’t cobble a movie together out of that.

Favorite animal character?

Does Beast count? He’s really kind of an amalgamation of animals. Or the bottom half of Ariel?

Well, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cheshire Cat, with his shit-eating grin and devil-may-care attitude. And as long as we’re talking retro, might as well mention Baloo. Also known as Little John. Also known as Thomas O’Malley. Also known as Humphrey. Also known as all the other schlumphy happy-go-lucky bears in Disney canon.

But I guess I like Maximus more than others — a combination of horse and Javert. He’s remarkably ethical, loyal, determined, and does it all without talking. I feel like Maximus is ushering in a new age for side-kicks, where they’re not just the Greek chorus, like R2-D2/C-3P0 or Sebastian/Flounder. Where they have a more deuteragonisty role.

Side note: Pegasus doesn’t get enough credit for his role. From when he’s a cute little baby to when he blows out Hades’s hair.

Last movie you watched?

Beauty & the Beast. With the kids. Probably inspired by the upcoming live-action film with creepy-looking Lumiere and Mrs. Potts with the wrong nose.

Rank your top 5 favorite princesses:

I’m planning this for a fuure blog entry, so stay tuned. Hopefully I’ll remember to link back to it when it’s done.

Which fictional Disney “land” would you like to live in?

Well, at first I thought “Lilo and Stitch” because they live in Hawaii. But then I saw “fictional” land. And besides I don’t like warm weather. And there’s too much fruit.

Wreck-It Ralph could be pretty fun. Heck, you get to live in all those video game lands. I do that anyway most of the time. I know the death rate is pretty high, but you’re neighbors with Aliens, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and Tapper’s bar.

But I’ve got to go with Lady and the Tramp for the same reasons Walt Disney had. It was designed to be THE idyllic, refined upper-middle class suburbia. Everyone’s got a milkman, a white picket fence, and a licensed dog. The men are men, the women are women, and all the children are above average.

Disney loved it so much he based Main Street, U.S.A. off of its design (or the other way around, I’m not sure). Maybe it’s because I’m a privileged straight white male (actually I’m certain it’s because) but it seems like a good place to retire to. As long as we can upgrade the technology by about a hundred years.

Have you ever named a pet after a Disney character?

At first I thought no, I’ve only had the chance to participate in one naming of a pet in my life (my two dogs, I didn’t get much say, given the kids). But then I realized — yes! Dinah! Dinah was named after the little red kitten in Alice in Wonderland.

Now given, she was in the book before the movie, but she was truly named after Disney’s bit player. I was surprised how quickly my sister agreed to this name (we were eight and six at the time). We never agreed on ANYTHING. Every little option was always a power struggle, because somehow we thought whoever’s idea was taken got some kind of authority points.

But I suggested Dinah, thinking it was a good cat name, and she said yes. So then it was decided. Now Dinah (our cat) looked nothing like Dinah (Alice’s cat). Ours was a black and white tabby with green eyes and no pink bow. I don’t even think their personalities were the same. But we named her while she was still in the humane society cage, so that wasn’t a factor.

If you were going to name your children with Disney character names, what would you choose? (First and middle, girl and boy.)

Alice Ariel and Taran Hercules

Make yourself a Disney family (e.g. mother, father, sister, brother)

Father – My first thought was Beast, because as funny as it was seeing him adjust to Belle, I think it would be thrice-so to see him do parenting stuff. But hilarity isn’t a good reason for selecting a father figure, especially since I wouldn’t be on the outside looking in — it’s not like this is a sitcom. So I choose Tarzan. Despite his loutish ways, he’s actually a wise and just man. He doesn’t eschew gentlemanly ways. He’s a protector and provider, and great for wrasslin’.

Mother – Slim pickings in this category, since Disney loves nothing more than killing off mothers — off-screen or on. Nonetheless, there are some ideal candidates here. It’d be easy for me to claim someone hot like Jasmine or Megara or Snow White (she’s only fourteen!). I think Aurora has a lot of potential. There’s no evidence, but having to deal with those fairies for sixteen years shows great patience. She’s a little dreamy, but she’s mature. However, I think Maid Marian would be a better mom. We see she has a strong rapport with kids, given the scene with bunny kids. She’s playful, brave, friendly, and she’s relatively safe from harm. Prince John doesn’t imprison her or kidnap her for his bride. She doesn’t even show up after the party until the marriage epilogue.

Sister – For a big sister, Moana. She’s new on the scene, but I love her daring nature and strong will. She’s the kind of girl who’ll help you sneak out of your house at midnight to go cruising with all her cool older friends. For a little sister, Alice. She’s so damn quirky you gotta love her. She’s like the precocious five-year-old on all the TGIF sitcoms. Highly suggestible, but too polite to complain. Yes, Alice, tell me all about the invisible cat and the deck of cards that chased you. And when she makes a billion dollars off her book, you can auction off her crayon drawings.

Brother – There’s only one choice here — Kuzco. Big or small, emperor or llama, there’s always a party where this guy’s going. He’ll throw you down a waterfall, but then feel bad and let you look inside his potions cabinet. And let’s not forget he owns a sweet, sweet waterpark.

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Prince Hans

prince hans frozen
PRINCE HANS OF THE SOUTHERN ISLES
Origin: Frozen (2013)
prince hans motivation frozen

Motivation: Most antagonists are driven by hurt feelings or misunderstandings. Hans is a true sociopath. Yes, Prince Charming is the bad guy. And it’s just what I wanted to see. Hans falls under the sin of avarice — he’s too far down the line of succession to ever inherit his own throne, so he’s looking to marry into one. He even explains this in song (before he takes off his hollow mask of concern). What I’m wondering is — most marriages were arranged (in this time period) for the purposes of gaining land, title, or alliances. Happens all the time in Game of Thrones. Why did he have to lie about it? And was this the only kingdom Hans could find?

charstrengths prince hans frozen

Character Strengths: Deception. One hundred percent. Hey, he fooled me. I was busy analyzing the Duke of Weselton when I was in the theater. Hans only reveals his true nature when Anna is teetering between life and death. And Hans nudges the scales towards death (in a totally ineffectual James Bond-villain way, but more on that later). It’s the convincing flaws that pull you over. He’s clumsy. He can fake true love like an actor. Sheep’s clothing in a winter shawl.

What I wonder is, even if he is a psycho, could he be a good king? We never really see a demonstration of his abuse of power (although I’m almost certain that would come later, much like Scar). He demonstrates competent leadership. And although his concern for the people was false, he did provide for them (a blanket on every bed and hot glogg in every cup). But then he’s like The Stepfather – a guy doing good things with bad means.

evilness prince hans frozen

Evilness: It’s rare a Disney movie provides someone genuinely terrifying, at least for an adult. It’s okay if it goes over the kid’s head. But imagine being a father and this guy comes in wanting to date your daughter. This is a real concern of women with wealth — marrying a man who turns out to be a gold digger. His acts of heroism are only to convince those around him. He saves Elsa from the Duke boys, only to condemn her later when he can look more heroic. He’s playing the long game.

The sad part is how many women/girls remain loyal to him DESPITE all this. There are countless Hans/Elsa fan fiction and fan art. My daughter’s best friend has a Hans doll but no others because she likes him. Fans have started a petition that in the Frozen sequel, Hans should be redeemed. That’s just the power these men have over women. Even when they plainly show their true colors, they’re still loved. Eww.

tools prince hans frozen

Tools: Prince Hans has no henchmen. No big guns. No navy backing him. No allies. He works on his own, with only his words and actions to aid him. Personally, I think this makes him scarier. Imagine what he could do with some tangible strength behind him. Unlike a lot of villains, he knows how to pick his targets. I bet he wasn’t even going to say “sandwiches”.

complement prince hans anna frozen

Complement to the Hero: Before his big reveal, he’s just as adorkable as Princess Anna. Even though you know she’s going to learn not to fall in love so quickly, you don’t think Hans is going to a bad guy. He’s like the fiancee in every romantic comedy that the main character breaks up with to be with the other. That’s how all these Disney movies work, right? They’re both young, maybe a little naive, royalty, quick and impulsive. But that’s Hans’s strength. He’s a chameleon. He changes to whatever he needs to be. That’s the mark of a sociopath.

fatal flaw prince hans frozen

Fatal Flaw: Oh, Hans. Haven’t you learned anything from the mistakes of others? First you reveal your whole plan, then you lock the hero in a room without actually killing them. You just couldn’t resist showing off how smart you are. It’s a common downfall of his kind. It’s how they caught the BTK killer. But no, all you had to do was stay in the room and make sure she froze to death. That’s all you had to do. Would have taken ten minutes.

But to be fair, even I didn’t know about the lock-picking capabilities of snowman noses.

method of death prince hans frozen elsa

Method of Defeat/Death: The blizzard gets worse after Elsa escapes jail. Hans finds her on the frozen fjord and tells her that Anna died from her Sub-Zero ice blast. Elsa collapses on the ice, and when her back is turned, Hans pulls out his sword (where did that come from?) But Anna’s not quite dead yet. She must choose between saving her own life or saving Elsa’s. She chooses her sister, and as John Woo time starts, Anna steps in front of Hans’s swinging sword. In that instant, she freezes solid. So solid, Hans’s sword shatters and the blast knocks him out. When he regains consciousness, everything’s thawed and both sisters are alive. In a crowning moment of awesome, Anna punches him in the face. A diplomat takes him back to the Southern Isles, where he’ll presumably get the business from his brothers.

method of death prince hans frozen

Bonus Defeat: In Frozen Fever, Hans is shoveling manure when a giant snowball, created by Elsa sneezing into the royal Birthday Bugle Horn, sails about two hundred miles over the ocean and crashes into him. I believe his bones should be crushed instantly from impact at that velocity but, you know, it’s a cartoon.

prince hans final frozen punch anna

Final Rating: Five stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)

shere khan
SHERE KHAN
Origin: The Jungle Book (1967)

I had to double-check that I hadn’t done this one already. Disney’s done so many poncey cats that they all blur together.

motivation shere khan tiger jungle book

Motivation: Shere Khan is the most fearsome beast there is. The Terminator of the Indian jungle. But he has one weakness – fear of fire. Why? We don’t know. I expect something traumatic in his cubhood. But he’s pretty safe because the only way to something starts on fire in the forest is lightning. No one can create fire except for man and there is no man in the jungle oh no wait there’s TOTALLY man in the jungle.

charstrengths shere khan jungle book

Character Strengths: Classy, stylish, and supremely confident. Usually big cats, especially tigers, are portrayed too cuddly, as in Robin Hood or The Lion King. This one, by looking at it, I’m afraid he’ll kill me. Others treat him like the Queen of Hearts, but where that was fantasy, this is teeth and claws.

evilness shere khan jungle book

Evilness: So if maintaining his throne is motivation, the movie does him a great disservice. Because while everyone acts intimidated enough, Shere Khan never DOES anything. He doesn’t show up until the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and he cannot even frighten the one guy he’s gunning for. Not only that, but Baloo and Bagheera overcome their fears when they see Mowgli in danger, making the tiger’s reputation sheer bupkiss. Khan is nothing more than a maguffin to keep the characters moving.

tools tiger shere khan jungle book

Tools: He’s got nothing but a reputation and claws. He doesn’t kill anything. Kaa fools him, the vultures jeer him. This is not Life of Pi.

complement jungle book shere khan

Complement to the Hero: The “idea” behind this conflict is good. When they finally meet, Mowgli is not afraid and Khan doesn’t know what to do. I find that hilarious, but rarely do villains go down in history for not making the protagonist quake in fear. In fact, most of the movie is troubleshooting Mowgli’s brash, childish behavior — teaching him to fear what he should. On the other hand, the lack of fear works out for him, as if he’d run from Khan, I bet he would have died. On the other other hand, he’s not exactly confronting his fears, making him hard to root for.

fatal flaw shere khan jungle book

Fatal Flaw: Overconfidence. Khan is the six hundred pound gorilla in the jungle (I mean, besides the actual six hundred pound gorilla in the jungle). Everyone treats him like The Mad King. When Mowgli stands up to him, Khan should immediately notice something amiss. Instead, he thinks it’s cute. He’s even willing to give his enemy a ten-second head start. This, of course, violates one of my favorite rules of combat: never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.

method of death shere khan jungle book

Method of Defeat/Death: Mowgli picks up a stick, daring Khan to attack him. He does, but Baloo CONVENIENTLY jumps in and stops him. While Baloo has the tiger by the tail, the vultures who Mowgli CONVENIENTLY came across fly him to safety. As a CONVENIENT storm rolls in, Khan shreds Baloo, until a bolt of lightning CONVENIENTLY strikes a CONVENIENT dead tree, setting a CONVENIENT branch on CONVENIENT fire. Mowgli ties it to Shere Khan’s tail (who CONVENIENTLY doesn’t notice) and the tiger runs off, presumably with PTSD for the rest of his life (if he didn’t burn alive first).

shere khan jungle book final

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)

aunt sarah lady and the tramp
AUNT SARAH
Origin: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This is a hard one. This is a romance story — there’s no real villain. Lady encounters a few different obstacles, but no stand out antagonist. Jim Dear and Darling neglect her for a while, but then that stops. The Siamese cats are only present for one scene. Tramp acts as her villain when his selfish side comes out. A rat shows up for the climactic battle, but plays no role in the plot. And a dogcatcher presents himself as the last obstacle. The conflict comes from the two different worlds. Like Saturday Night Fever or Silver Linings Playbook.

motivation aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Motivation: She seems like one of those Dolores Umbridge types — snooty, harsh, insensitive, overbearing, and above all, British. That means she’s going to run the house the way she wants, despite the established rules. Because those young people just don’t know any better.

strengths aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Character Strengths: If you can say anything, she’s decisive. She believes she’s acting in the best interest for the baby. Which is noble, I guess, unless you’re the dog. Despite her unlikability (who’s sister is she anyway? She looks pretty old.) she’s trustworthy enough not to burn the house down.

evilness aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Evilness: Does it count if the evil traits aren’t intentional? Clearly, she believes dogs do not belong near a baby (probably due to growing up around high infant mortality rates). But cats are okay despite the many old wives tales about them (racist cats, double). And the cat food doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her poor, sweet babies make mischief, shift the blame to lady, and get coddled. The end result is that Lady is forced to wear a muzzle, which too closely resembles a Hellraiser torture device. How’s a girl supposed to eat?

tools aunt sarah siamese cats lady and the tramp

Tools: Aunt Sarah isn’t really trying to do anything, so I hardly can call Si and Am tools (unless you count their earworm song). All she needs to do is make sure the little yuppie larva is still breathing.

complement aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Complement to the Hero: I’m not sure what to say. Lady’s a dog. Sarah’s a human, but not Lady’s owner. I can say that characteristics of Lady are missing in Aunt Sarah. Lady is sweet and romantic and ladylike (hence the name). Aunt Sarah is a cow. But they have no real relationship to each other.

fatal flaw aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Fatal Flaw: Nice kid. Baaaaaaaaad judge of character. A rat sneaks into the nursery while Lady is chained up. And Aunt Sarah ignores the distressed barking, meaning Tramp has to sneak in. Don’t tell Mom the babysitter’s stupid. (BTW, what evidence do we have the rat was going to hurt the baby? All it was doing was looking in. Talk about circumstantial evidence.)

method of death aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Method of Defeat/Death: Nothing really happens to Aunt Sarah. Jim Dear and Darling come home, discover the dead rat, and Aunt Sarah realizes her mistake. At the end, she’s even sent a Christmas gift to the dogs. I love a good redemption story. Just not this one.

aunt sarah lady and the tramp final

Final Rating: One star

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)

yzma emperor's new groove
YZMA
Origin: The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

I really don’t want to do this one. The whole movie is a radical departure from the golden fairy tale or epic quest of derring-do. This feels more like a long Saturday Morning cartoon. Even the art style feels cheaper. I’ll give Disney props for taking risks, but this one just doesn’t click. Given all the production issues present, I’m not surprised.

evilness yzma emperor's new groove

Motivation: Well, at least I can give credit for providing the main character motivation within the piece. Usually, the villain’s instantiating incident happens before the movie. But the story is short enough as it is — maybe it was just filler. Kuzco fires Yzma as his royal adviser for attempting to usurp his throne. So Yzma immediately carries out her plan to usurp his throne.

yzma strengths emperor's new groove

Character Strengths: So we’ve learned that boys make good hunters and girls make good witches. Yzma’s magic comes in the form of nondescript bottles that cause transfiguration. Personality-wise, she’s more witty than other queenly counterparts and her Eartha Kitt voice rounds out her affable craziness. Kinda like the Joker or Deadpool. Someone who’s not sympathetic, but you still enjoy anyway.

yzma secret lab emperor's new groove

Evilness: The above-mentioned plan consists of assassinating Kuzco with some poison. We see the whole “feeding the poison, waiting for him to die” scene too, which seems a little dark for a Disney buddy comedy. But her flunky mixes up the bottles and Kuzco transforms into a llama. So immediately her claim to cruelty is flushed. All we’ve got here is ambition. Although making those sultry supermodel poses while being “scary beyond all reason” might be grounds for evil.

tools yzma emperor's new groove

Tools: Let’s face it: all the charm of Yzma comes from Kronk. Without him, there’s no movie. He even got his own Direct-To-DVD so you know I’m right. The problem is he’s largely incompetent. Slower than sloths swimming through a swamp. He pulls the wrong lever, he fails to procure the correct potion, he doesn’t kill the Kuzco-llama when he’s supposed to. How long does it take for Yzma to realize how poorly she’s hired? And her sorcery is more like alchemy. You never see her do any actual magic, which makes her closer to Jafar (actually, they do look a little alike).

motivation kuzco kronk yzma

Complement to the Hero: Yzma says that “she practically raised” Kuzco, so we can give a few points for the villain creating the hero and then vice versa. But a throwaway line does not a duo make. And her big move — turning the hero into a llama because she didn’t properly label her bottles — reeks of amateur hour. The whole plot sounds like a kid’s stage play.

fatal flaw yzma emperor's new groove

Fatal Flaw: She should have taken a lesson from other evil queens and witches — never delegate your work. Because Kronk’s conscience got the better of him, Kuzco can get away. And the chase scene leads to some comedy set pieces, but no serious threat from the queen witch. The hero easily shortcuts to Yzma’s “secret lab” (big air-quotes around that one for bad storytelling shortcuts) where she uses her lack of proper labeling to her own advantage. Just bad luck in the end. Her desire for complicated plans doesn’t count, because she always realizes easier solutions beforehand. There’s nothing wrong with brainstorming.

yzma method of death emperor's new groove

Method of Defeat/Death: Before Kuzco has a chance to take the anti-llama potion, Yzma topples her cabinet, mixing it among other transfigurationals. Comedy ensues as they keep trying drink after drink, each time with different results, as Yzma and Kronk chase them out the side of the palace. Yzma accidentally turns herself into a cat, but manages to capture the last vial. But she can’t open it, and falls 50,000 feet to not-death. Her fate is that she eventually becomes one of the squirrel scouts (still a kitten).

final yzma emperor's new groove

Final Rating: Three stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

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: Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)

ichabod crane sleepy hollow mirror

ICHABOD CRANE

Origin: The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad (1949)

Yep. Bet you’re as surprised as I was when I realized it.

Here we have an unusual case of a protagonist who’s not the hero and an antagonist who’s not the villain. Although by the end, neither is much changed (more on that later). Even though this is a half-hour short, and not one of Disney’s best, I thought this character warranted further exploration. If for nothing else than to open some minds. I might be right, I might be wrong. But at least I get you thinking.

motivation ichabod crane sleepy hollow

Motivation: At first, Crane seems obsessed with food. His first malevolent act is pilfering a pie past a poor passerby’s possession. But once he sees walking Barbie doll Katrina Van Tassel, his brain leaps from her batting doe eyes to the bales of golden wheat her farm produces, which will result in masses of money. Not sure how legit that is — not familiar with the economics of this time. One tribble in the grain elevator and Crane’s dream goes up in smoke. So minus points for switching motivation partway through the story. He doesn’t even know if Katrina can make toast.

charstrengths ichabod crane sleepy hollow

Character Strengths: Many and varied. Crane is intelligent, crafty, and sneaky. He plays the town’s ladies so he can get invited to dinner and filch their vittles. Plus he’s got better sleight of hand than David Copperfield pulling David Blaine out of Penn Jillette’s pants. True, it’s usually used for sneaking food, so minus points for lack of ambition. On the other hand, you can’t fault the guy for staying true. The heart wants what it wants. And it wants turkey.

evilness ichabod crane sleepy hollow

Evilness: The worst kind of evil is the kind you don’t know is evil. Ichabod Crane is misogynist, greedy, and shallow. We’re fooled into thinking that he’s a humorous goofball because most of the comic relief involves food. Just forget that he’s actively stealing from the townspeople he’s here to help. He’s not looking for a good wife, he’s looking for someone who makes a good pot roast. Which makes his pursuit of Katrina doubly insincere. Now he wants pot roast AND the fortune of the farm her father will finally foist on her feminine figure. (Why am I alliterating so much?)

tools sleepy hollow ichabod crane

Tools: Now I ain’t saying Crane a golddigger, but he ain’t messing with no brain bigger. His whole M.O. is to exploit the town, mostly the womenfolk, into giving him treats. Nobody’s bright enough to suss this out. And once he’s gotten what he wants, he’s gone. Also, he’s inexplicably lucky, but that bites him in the bony ass later.

complement ichabod crane sleepy hollow

Complement to the Hero: By today’s standards, we’d consider Brom Bones a bully. He’s beefy, not too bright, and spends his time with friends instead of highbrow hobbies (much like a precursor to Gaston). He likes pranks and mischief, but only in a Bart Simpson way. His first real act of malice is making a dog howl outside Ichabod’s music lesson (played for comedy). And yes, he’s not terribly considerate to women of size.

But look hard at his actions during the cartoon. He opens up a barrel of beer for his friends (and some dogs). Unlike Ichabod, he has the skills that people valued during this time (credit to Washington Irving for this). He’s boastful and loud, but also unselfish and civil. Whereas Crane is a schoolteacher. No one needs that in this time and era. They need Davy Crocketts, not Jaime Escalantes.

fatal flaw icabod crane sleepy hollow

Fatal Flaw: For some reason, despite all his intelligence, Ichabod Crane is superstitious (maybe to the point of OCD?). He’s savvy enough to avoid the black cats and pick up the horseshoes. But when Brom Bones sees him throwing spilled salt over his shoulder, he gets the idea how to bump Crane out of Sleepy Hollow.

(Side note: Bee-tee-dubs, what is Katrina’s deal? She keeps engaging Ichabod Crane for, what looks like, the sole purpose of making Brom Bones jealous. Even within the comic scene where Brom keeps running into things, she’s revelling in the attention. Does she have reason to make him jealous? To make him get off his ass and pop the question? Is she just doing this for shits and giggles? Is SHE the real antagonist here?

method of death sleepy hollow ichabod crane

Method of Defeat/Death: After Brom tells his tale (which would be a hell of a lot scarier if Bing Crosby wasn’t singing it), Ichabod rides slowly and shakingly through the deep dark woods. After several jump scares (not including the standard yowling cat), the headless horseman appears behind him. A long chase ensues, in traditional Disney style, until Crane sees the bridge, which he knows as the safe point. He rides across, but the horseman throws his pumpkin head (not “that” Pumpkinhead).

In an epilogue, the narrator declares that all they found was Ichabod’s hat and shards of gourd. Some say that Ichabod left and got married (which we see in an “is-it-real?” flash forward where he’s surrounded by a PAWG wife and ugly, ugly children. But at least he’s got a big-ass turkey in front of him).  Brom Bones also gets married to Katrina.

The problem with this ending is that nobody is changed. Ichabod Crane is still insincere, gluttonous, and shallow, but got what he wanted. Brom Bones is still a wiseacre, but got what he wanted. Which is why this story remains in Disney’s bargain bin. Nobody goes through any struggles, no one comes out changed, so what was the point?

final sleepy hollow ichabod crane headless horseman

Final Rating: Two stars (one extra for flying under the radar)

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)

Is Tony Stark Becoming a Villain?

tony stark

Has anyone noticed that Tony Stark is starting to get a little… villainy?

I mean, he’s always been the epitome of an egotist, rude, abrasive, lacking empathy, but with a heart of gold.  A asshole who still does good things for good reasons.  Like Wolverine, but with money.  And I’m only talking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it bleeds over from the comics (as will become apparent in a minute).

But clearly, Tony is the most selfish, most arrogant, biggest weakness of the Avengers.  Not even the Hulk is that bad, because at least the Hulk isn’t acting in his own desires.  I mean think about the movies.  Iron Man spends all his time fighting people who try to take his inventions away or use them against others.  Even Iron Man 2 starts with the government trying to control Tony Stark’s war weapon.  He just goes “nope”, smiles his charming smile, and nothing else happens.  Straight out of Ayn Rand (or Bioshock, depending on who you ask).  Iron Man’s entire superhero ideology is protecting/defending the self.  In direct opposition to Captain America’s selflessness/self-sacrifice (hence the constant conflict with Steve Rogers).

Avengers 2 is where it really comes to a head.  Trying to make artificial intelligence out of a magic stick in three days.  The end result being an army of super-robots around the world.  That’s the sort of thing I expect Lex Luthor to do, not Tony Stark.  But Tony’s all “Whatever.  I do what I want.”  Most people I know call that fascism, but whatever.  He’s handsome.

He goes into the “nexus” of the Internet (we’ll ignore the total absence of logic around that for the moment and assume that’s a real thing) and he just monkeys around.  No one stops him.  I don’t know if it’s his charisma or money or the fact that the movie demands it.  And THEN he tries the same exact damn thing again.  And Bruce Banner goes right along with it (though I think it’s because he eschews aggression/conflict due to his Hulkiness).  But Tony is no longer thinking about consequences.  There would be no Avengers 2 if it wasn’t for Tony Stark.

And I’ve read Civil War, so I know what’s going to happen when that comes out.  I’m afraid what’s going to happen, because I know the pain points of that drama.  I know the set pieces, and they have big consequences (spoilers below).

A nasty superhero accident provokes the government to pass a bill requiring superhero registration.  Tony Stark wants this.  Captain America doesn’t.  Both become opposing sides in a massive guerrilla war where heroes fight heroes.  The end result of all this is that Captain America surrenders, but is subsequently assassinated.  Tell me this wouldn’t make a perfect end to the Captain America trilogy.

Plus, Tony Stark becomes Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Given that S.H.I.E.L.D. became disbanded in Captain America 2, this seems like a perfect way to bookend Steve Rogers’s arc in the MCU.  Not to mention you’re giving more power to an already powerful man.  Power that previously belonged to a bad guy.  Now instead of just his company, he gets unlimited resources, mobility, and knowledge.  He’s basically got control of the entire world.  And you know what they say about power corrupting?

I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a key component of The Infinity War.  Now instead of a guy who can control the world, he gets the power of a god.  I hope the people at Marvel know what they’re doing.  They risk turning a very likable character into someone unlikable.

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)

lady tremaine cinderella villain
LADY TREMAINE
Origin: Cinderella (1950)
motivation cinderella lady tremaine window

Motivation: The stepmother is actually pretty damn sinister. She does nothing in her life except make Cinderella suffer. For most other villains, I’d be complaining how we don’t know the motivation for this. But in this case, it kinda works. Vengeance? Jealousy? A bruised ego? Free slave labor? Something to do with her former husband? She has nothing to gain and nothing to lose. It’s almost Joker-like in her actions.

charstrengths lady tremaine cinderella

Character Strengths: I love it when the light fades out on her after she gets some devious idea. Everything shrouds in darkness except her eyes. Unfortunately, being evil is not really a strength. The guy at Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t want to serve you, you don’t get headsies in line, that sort of thing. Lady Tremaine does little but act aristocratic. She’s like an inverse princess, one who becomes corrupt with money and power and starts treading on the little people. Unfortunately, the only treading is on Cinderella. So… what else is she good for?

evilness maleficent lady tremaine cinderella

Evilness: Lady Tremaine manages to pull off an effective villainy without any powers whatsoever. She doesn’t even necessarily need her wealth. I can think of few more evil beings in this world than an abusive parent. That’s ninth circle of Hell level. She even uses the same manipulative bullshit on her own daughters when she gets them to tear Cindy’s dress apart. It’s just pure sociopath.

Why Cinderella stands for all this, I don’t know. Maybe Tremaine’s got some blackmail on her. They also didn’t have women’s shelters back then. Nevertheless, if she’s that malevolent without powers, I’d hate to see her with.

tools lady tremaine cinderella

Tools: I gotta ask a question: who had sex with her? Wait, correction… who had sex with her TWICE in order to produce those two foul little offspring. My only hope that is that he killed himself shortly after he realized what he had done. That or powerful drugs. Anyway, Drizella and Anastasia make effective henchmen, thanks to their blank heads.

She also has a cat named Lucifer who steals the show. It shouldn’t BE stealing the show, mind you. He turns the whole movie into a Tom & Jerry cartoon. I can’t tell whether it’s actually evil or just being a cat, trying to chase and eat the mice. This is why I never liked cat cartoons — they punish them for doing the thing it’s supposed to.

complement cinderella lady tremaine

Complement to the Hero: The message of Cinderella seems to be that if you are kind and loving, good things will come to you. I’ve never much cared for that moral, but this story tells it well. Cinderella’s never been anything but nice, and Lady Tremaine goes out of her way to hurt her, in both the short term and long game. In the end, nothing breaks her. Without her toy, I imagine Lady Tremaine spent the rest of her days stewing in a dusty mansion like Miss Havisham, slightly crazy, surrounded by cats and old furniture.

final lady tremaine cinderella

Fatal Flaw: The funny thing is that Lady Tremaine does everything right. She makes all the moves to get one of her daughters in the prince’s lap. But it ultimately fails because, well, any idiot can see that Anastasia and Drizella are spoiled, vapid, and selfish. And the prince is just above “idiot”, so he finds Cinderella.

I guess stupidity, because how does Tremaine not recognize Cinderella at the ball? She has her hair done and wears a fancy dress, but jeez! At least Clark Kent has glasses. (You could say the same for any character in the movie, but Lady Tremaine has the most to lose).

method of death lady tremaine cinderella

Method of Defeat/Death: Lady Tremaine makes sure Cinderella is locked away while her daughters shove their tootsies into a foot-shaped jar. Then she gets free. Lady Tremaine manages to trip the Royal Shoe Carrier, but Cinderella pulls out the other slipper (giving the whole scenario dubious legality). She becomes a princess and Lady Tremaine… ends up no worse off than she was before. 

Sure, she didn’t achieve her goal, but she’s still got a sweet house, lots of money, and nothing bad’s happened to her. I say pour yourself a cosmo and go to Vegas, sweetheart. You’ve earned it.

lady tremaine final costume live action cinderella final

Final Rating: Five stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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: Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)

ratcliffe pocahontas
GOVERNOR JOHN RATCLIFFE
Origin: Pocahontas (1995)

Captain Hook’s personality in Alameda Slim’s body. Ratcliffe is one of the weakest antagonists I’ve ever seen. The movie doesn’t even need him — it’s West Wide Story. He’s merely a symbol for Mother England. You know, the whole REASON their trip was funded and provided in the first place? The name even has the word “Rat” in it, and it’s not a clever pun.  That kind of move telegraphs the weakness of your character.

But you know what, fuck Disney for screwing with this guy. They propagandized him into a greedy, capitalistic slob who will destroy everything to get what he wants. Guess what — that’s what he was paid to do. That’s what John Smith was supposed to do, but he was busy rolling in the grass with a fourteen-year-old. You might as well say Scrooge McDuck is a villain (and don’t tell me he found his entire fortune by treasure hunting). And I can’t even talk about the historical inaccuracies — I gotta stick to the plot. So here you go.

motivation ratcliffe gold pocahontas

Motivation: Greed. Pure, simple, and heavy-handed. They try and throw in some back story for him like this is his “last chance” to become successful for “those backstabbers in court”. Couldn’t be more meaningless. A tossed in bit of dialogue does not a motivation make.

charstrengths ratcliffe pocahontas

Character Strengths: I like how they call him “Governor Ratcliffe” when he does no governing whatsoever. How can you call yourself a political leader of a piece of land with no buildings on it?  In fact, he’s one of the few Disney villains that loses the loyalty of his troops before the end (Scar being another ignoble example).

His time-filling song does some good to motivate the men on the search for gold. But after a few digs, they’re already discussing mutiny (side note: who exactly is the captain on this voyage?) After that, his only recourse is to redirect their anger to the Indians.

evilness ratcliffe pocahontas

Evilness: See above, regarding scapegoating the Indians for his own shortcomings. He takes the prejudices already held against them and exploits it. Of course, when Pocahontas and John Smith’s love “conquers all”, Ratcliffe shoots anyway, wounding his golden boy. Here’s a guy who doesn’t know when he’s licked. Lust for greed and power turns into petty vengeance, grasping for any victory. What did he expect to happen after he pulled that trigger?

tools ratcliffe pocahontas

Tools: Okay, do I have to talk about Wiggins and the dog? No? Good. How about the ship full of strong, hearty men ready to serve… that show immediate progressive thought and begin plans to overthrow him? Geez, it’s like the American Revolution extremely condensed.

complement ratcliffe john smith pocahontas

Complement to the Hero: The movie makes a point to feature exported characters on both sides. Chief Powhatan is just as bad as Ratcliffe, but he gets a free pass because he’s an Indian. His motivation isn’t sinful, he’s just afraid and angry. It doesn’t matter that they’re in a constant state of war, and have no interest in expanding their horizons. They’re a noble people.

And then you’ve got John Smith — the fit, blond all-American Englishman voiced by Australian Mel Gibson. Remember how I said Disney likes to make poncey and foppish villains? This one turned it up to eleven, enough for people to start taking notice. His villain song even includes the words “hey nonny nonny”.

fatal flaw ratcliffe pocahontas

Fatal Flaw: I don’t know how Ratcliffe got into his position, but he sure doesn’t know how to keep it. His poor leadership skills are only a contributing factor. The greed and wrath keep him blind to anything happening around him. He’s a worse listener than Hiccup’s father. When you have to keep saying “This is my land and I make the rules here”, it is clear that you are not.

method of defeat ratcliffe pocahontas
Is that the drunk guy from Tangled?

Method of Defeat/Death: Ratcliffe leads his men to the Powhatan village, just in time to see Pocahontas save John Smith’s life. The chief listens to the colors of the wind while Ratcliffe yanks a gun and fires. John Smith does his best Kevin Costner and jumps in front of the bullet musket ball (that somehow traveled hundreds of yards up and still hit its mark), and the men realize he’s crossed a moral event horizon. They tie him up and thrown him in the boat back to England while “I Will Always Love You” plays for John Smith and Pocahontas.

final ratcliffe pocahontas

Final Rating: One star

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
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)