The Artful Villains of Walt Disney
This started out to be a nice little hub on villains in film, inspired by kpfingaz's forum. As I began my research, however, I quickly realized that there was simply too much material for one hub. Can you say...series?
Good villains (yes, there is such a thing as a "good" villain) require certain elements to be in place for their villainy to be truly apparent and appreciated. A decent plot is always welcome, and the requisite not-overly-bright henchmen add a nice touch, but truly evil villains need a truly good hero or heroine to upon whom to vent their spleen. It is difficult to vent one's spleen adequately if the target is unworthy in some way.
Good Witch? Bad Witch? Great Witch!
There's a lot of competition out there in the witching world. And almost anyone can be a decent enough bad witch. But it takes true artistry to lift a character from the merely "bad" category into a fully realized, truly awful, despicable, and magnificently evilness of a Great Villain.
And Mr. Disney certainly knew his witches.
First Ladies of Villany
Spleen Venting - Did Somebody Say, "Spleen Venting"?
Well, what can I say. When it comes to the ladies, they certainly seem to have the edge in the evil department - at least on film...and nobody can be a witch like a Disney witch.
The wicked queen was one of the first of many notable scary women I encountered. She was a force to be reckoned with as the queen, but when she transformed herself into the sly old crone, she was downright frightening. That film certainly taught us to be wary of stranger bearing gifts. Pity the poor old lady in a cloak who approached any of us with a juicy red apple - we knew what to expect, and were already primed to slam the door, or run - or both.
Cruella De Ville was a nasty piece of business, too. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to skin those cute little puppies. Her "staff" left a lot to be desired in the efficiency department, but that is only to be expected. I really think there must be a special agency where one applies for hench-people.
Henchmen / Henchwomen Wanted
Every Great Witch Needs Few Good Men - Henchmen, That Is.
Let me see... where on earth could one find a good henchperson these days? There must be a few places to look up a good, er bad, er - well, a henchperson. Maybe the "minions" would know of a few unattached henchfolk out there.
Perhaps in Social Media posts? Though, I really can't see anyone actually adding that category to their online profile... Or maybe in the "want" ads? Aha!
Wanted - henchperson/creatures
Qualifications for Hench-person:
- hard-working and obsequious
- not stupid, but not overly bright
- somewhat useful in small ways but inept when the chips are down
- willing to accept all manner of abuse and come back for more
Ursula didn't really need many hench-fish, but her barracudas were rather frightful - all those sharp teeth.
Queenly Attributes of a Great Villain
Best Villains Ever? The Ladies Have It...
Sorry men, but let's be realistic here. When it comes to the sheer wicked duplicity that goes with creating mayhem and all sorts of nastiness, the ladies have it, hands down...and no cute remarks from the peanut gallery, thank you.
The fair sex is amply represented here by Tilda Swinton, a very classy lady, and, my goodness, doesn't she make an amazing bad girl? And, Susan Sarandon's earthly charms were certainly well-displayed in "Enchanted." Unfortunately, her magical charms are somewhat handicapped by the ineptitude of her (male) hench-twit...but she did make a lovely, campy spectacle striding down the neon-lit streets of New York in search of the enchanted Ella.
For absolute, awe-inspiring evil, though, few can top the White Witch from the Narnia Chronicles. She is truly a study in B.A.D.
She brings to mind the Snow Queen from the Brothers' Grimm fairy tale, but the queen pales in comparison. A pretty nasty package in her own right, she can't hold a candle to this computer-realized vision of Nasty, with her unquenchable lust for power.
Let's Not Leave Out the Men...
Don't Be Discouraged Men...
Women Just Make Better Villains
Sociological and gender concerns aside, you have to admit it, men. Or maybe you don't - after all, what rugged villain likes to get beat out by a girl? When it comes to BAD-ness, the women have it bagged.
But I wouldn't want you to think that the distaff side was being showcased at the expense of our menfolk. Men make great villains! (...and trust me, that's meant as a true compliment... )
One of the scariest dudes I remember from Walt Disney's Halloween Specials was the Headless Horseman. Mind you, he had a great build up before we ever laid eyes on him. We loved those Halloween shows. Hosted by the Mirror of Snow White Fame, the hour-long show featured all our frightful favorites: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Night on Bald Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice - come to think of it, that wretched broom certainly took on a nightmarish villainy all its own - and all the pranks of Donald Duck and his boys, Huey, Dewy and Louie, out for Halloween treats.
The evil wizard from "Aladdin" certainly owes a lot to the wicked viziers of the Arabian Nights. Sinbad's voyages in print or on screen would not have been complete without an evil advisor or two.
Jeremy Irons lent his voice and awesome talents to Scar, creating a truly frightening characterization. He out-smarmied the snake from Jungle Book: he cringed and begged with deplorable oiliness. He was truly a scary force to be reckoned with, unrepentant and unregenerate to his bitter end.
...and really, that's what it's all about, isn't it? The wicked ones must be vanquished and all put to right with the world. There will be loss, but in the end, the sacrifice will bring about renwal and the rebirth of peace. The boy will get the girl, the lost will be found, loved ones will be reunited - at least until the next evil villain crawls out of the woodwork...
A New Generation of Gorgeous Villany
New Entries into the 'Top Villains' category
Though technically not true cartoons, many of our new entries into the "let-me-scare-you-to-death" category do use CGI (computer generated/graphic interface) to produce some amazing effects. So much more advanced than the old "blue-screen" processes of earlier film-making, CGI has been a real game-changer in bringing fantastic and magical realities to life on the screen.
Uma Thurman turns in a totally awesomely evil performance as the wicked Queen in "Snow White and the Huntsman." From the same producers that brought us "Alice in Wonderland" this film takes the fairy to version to a much darker place.
This lady certainly proves she has the chops to take on the best of them. Her character leaps off the screen - scary, evil, and all too believable.
Keep an eye out for the pre-quell, another must-have for the Blu-ray collection. The morphing of her birds, rather scary black ravens, into her attire/person and she into a cloud of them so she can fly about creating mayhem are only a few of the stunning visual effects that make both films a feast for the eyes.
The inevitable confrontation between the is brilliantly realized, but the special effects never eclipse the talented cast. We never lose sight of the essential humanity of the characters, even though the heroics and the evil-doings are on an epic scale.
And There Will Be More Villains To Come...
So with fiendish laughter echoing in our ears, "Moo-ooo-hoo-aaa-aahhhh haahahaaaa", and with a passing nod to Si and Am, so ably voiced by Peggy Lee - Si and Am were,of course, the Siamese pussycat monsters who made life so miserable for poor Lady in "Lady and The Tramp" - we bid a fond farewell to our villainous crew, confident that the next time we need a good scare, they wiil be on hand to provide the goose bumps.
And the Ladies Have the Last Words...
© 2009 RedElf
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 19, 2018:
@Chris - and we're so good at it, too (being villains, I mean) :)
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 19, 2018:
Thanks so much, Chris - a good villain is worth their weight in gold. And it's such a long and glorious history :)
Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on June 18, 2018:
I enjoyed this walk through the history of female villainy. I'll be paying closer attention to the villains in my own stories.
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 12, 2018:
Hey, Nell. She's right up there for me too. I have a funny story about the C.S. Lewis books - might write about that one of these days...
Nell Rose from England on June 11, 2018:
It has got to be the White Witch from The Lion the witch and the wardrobe for me! I have loved those books and films since I was a kid. Great list!
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 09, 2018:
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 09, 2018:
Thanks so much, Eileen. Often the villain is the best part of teh movie - it's hard to be really good unless teh villain is really bad :)
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on June 09, 2018:
Wonderful memories here. You cannot beat a good villain male or female
Robert Sacchi on April 30, 2018:
You're welcome and keep up the Hubs.
RedElf (author) from Canada on April 30, 2018:
That is definitely something I will have to research. I had always dismissed MDDD as one of those new, fashionable, psychological-sounding terms the media is so fond of coining. :) :) But it certainly could be a seriously fun topic for another article. Thanks for the idea :)
Robert Sacchi on April 29, 2018:
This is a fun article. I would point out the male deficit dastardliness disorder (MDDD) might be a problem with Disney. You may want to do some research and come back to us with another Hub.
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 16, 2012:
daisydayz, what can I say, except to let you know that another "villains" hub is definitely in the offing. It should include some previously 'passed-over' villains.
Chantele Cross-Jones from Cardiff on July 14, 2012:
You didn't include the queen of hearts! I love the queen of hearts especially in the Tim Burton version! Although Cruella De Ville is awesome!!
RedElf (author) from Canada on May 28, 2012:
Roskyisadog, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Cruella DeVille - her name even has a villainous ring to it, don't you think/
LARPERBOY, thank so much for commenting.
LARPERBOY not for sale on May 28, 2012:
CRUELLA IS A DEVIL
URSALA IS AN OCTUOPUS (wonder if she got that from her mom or her dad?)
MALANIFICENT IS AN EVIL FAIRY
THE EVIL WITCH IS ALSO AN OLD HAG
Rockyisadog on May 28, 2012:
really enjoyed this!When I was little and saw 101 dalmations,when ever Cruella came up on the screen doing something sinister or what ever i would say "she a bad,bad lady", for some reason i would always see it with my older cousins and they would say "well,duh!" good times,good times.( I love Cruella)
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 28, 2011:
Dan, you hit the nail right on the head - as the old song says, "You can't have one without the other..." Yes, she was downright mean and nasty - sure made the lesson about accepting gifts from strangers come alive :D
Dan90017 from Los Angeles, California on October 28, 2011:
Villains truly are essential to any story. It would be pretty difficult to have a hero or a moral in a story without a villain. I remember as a kid though I had nightmares of the witch from Snow White. Poison apples? No thanks!
RedElf (author) from Canada on August 31, 2011:
You gotta love those naughtie ladies, carco!
Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 31, 2011:
Have to agree, Disney has the best cartoon villains, without them their movies would be nothing. Our family has enjoyed Disney cartoons ever since I can remember. Great Hub, Voted Up and Awesome...
RedElf (author) from Canada on January 31, 2011:
Yes, indeed. Cinderella's step-mom was e real baddy, too, kmc!
kmcmichael from Athens, Georgia on January 30, 2011:
Cinderella's stepmother was pretty evil too, if you count her as a villain. Very entertaining hub!
RedElf (author) from Canada on December 16, 2010:
His naughty ladies certainly seem to have a lot of fun - at least 'til the end of the movie :D
Yena Williams from California on December 15, 2010:
Cruella Deville is definitely a FAV of mine! Hoorah for Disney Villanesses!
RedElf (author) from Canada on December 07, 2010:
Oh, no! How could I have missed Madame Mim - she was truly villanous! Seriously, though, I really didn't mind when she "got hers."
Flu-Bird on December 07, 2010:
What about MAD MADAME MIM from SWORD IN THE STONE she its a crazy witch,
RedElf (author) from Canada on May 25, 2010:
Thanks so much, Dobson. Cinderella's stepmother always seemed meaner to me because she was just a person with no magical powers - only financial ones. Pernicious!
Dobson from Virginia on May 25, 2010:
Of all the Disney villains, I guess I found the step mother to Cinderella to be the one I wanted to see dealt with the most. She is so wicked. Cruella was more humorous to me and Ursula was almost unbelievable. I also enjoyed the villainess in the Rescuers.
RedElf (author) from Canada on May 19, 2010:
Glimmer515, one of my favorite commercials is one for the Space Network about villains "who will one day rule the world". It is just a hoot - everyone needs a spendable minion or two.
Glimmer515 from Never Never Land on May 18, 2010:
love the villains and all things disney!!just did a hub on the disney sidekicks!! but the hench men thing is a great idea for another hub!!!
RedElf (author) from Canada on April 13, 2010:
Thanks so much, Granny's House. I love the ladies!
Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on April 13, 2010:
They are some of my favorites too.
RedElf (author) from Canada on October 27, 2009:
Thanks so much, Deborah-Lynn. So glad you stopped by!
Deborah-Lynn from Los Angeles, California on October 25, 2009:
Great Hub on Witches and villians....great shopping for Christmas too:)
RedElf (author) from Canada on September 14, 2009:
Aahhh! A Cruella fan... Yes, bingskee, she was truly scary.
bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on September 14, 2009:
truly, susan sarandon gave justice to that role as a villain. made her versatile as well.
love cruella, btw.
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 23, 2009:
Greeting, deepestwisdom. I think you've hit it - it's the glamorus element added to the mix that makes a truly great villain, LOL.
deepestwisdom from England on July 23, 2009:
Those Disney villains definitely have a menacing, but also glamorous, quality to them!
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 14, 2009:
Too true, Flu-Bird, they certainly could... by the way, you have a most unusual name.
Flu-Bird on July 13, 2009:
The EVIL QUEEN and MILIFICENT COULD COMPETE AS VILLIANS THEY BOTH USE BLACK MAGIC
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 13, 2009:
Nice to meet you, Gerard. Yes, he certainly seems to be following that bent, but then, Freud would have had a heyday with Old Uncle Walt, anyway, from what I have read.... I have had two stepmothers, and never any real problems, lol.
Gerard Daniels on July 11, 2009:
hmmm, interesting. i never thought of how Disney seems to have a hate on for Step Mothers. Me thinks Freud woulda said or wrote something on that :)
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 03, 2009:
Oh, Staci, there are so many lovely ladies on TV that seem to have modelled their wicked ways after truly great villains. They are so darn good at it, too. There's another hub or two in there, I am sure.
Staci-Barbo7 from North Carolina on July 03, 2009:
Red Elf, I remember the first time I saw Snow White - I was around 6 years old, and I had never watched a movie with a real villain in it. I was so frightened of that awful queen-witch that I couldn't watch the movie straight through. I took several breaks just to get through it!
How about Joan Collins always working to undermine Crystal's happiness in Dynasty? Now there was a wicked woman in anyone's estimation. I really took umbrage at her shenanigans on Crystal's behalf - I loved to hate her!!
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 01, 2009:
No argument there, ethel. She is a stinker.
Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on July 01, 2009:
Cruella is the meanest
RedElf (author) from Canada on July 01, 2009:
Thanks so much and so pleased to meet you, jill. You got that one right...and Disney's heroines are truly loveable. I think my fave is Belle. Besides, where would poor Pauline be without a dastardly stinker to contrast her stirling character? Hardly in Peril, methinks, lol.
jill of alltrades from Philippines on July 01, 2009:
Wow! You have really named them all! The villians simply have to be good, otherwise we will never appreciate how lovable and pure of heart the heroines are.
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 30, 2009:
Good to see you, rawlus. I must admit I had to flip a coin over some of them, lol. My personal scariest movie moment is still the pink elephant parade from Dumbo - such a nightmare!
Thanks for stopping by, Shalini. So glad you enjoyed them. You just never seem to forget a "good" villain.
I'm with you, Queen. She always seemed just plain mean to me. Some of the others were scary, or funny, but she was just downright nasty.
Thanks so much, LM. So glad you enjoyed them. Though they have done an overall excellent job of adapting the C.S. Lewis novels to film, and the CG characters are quite wonderful, they do get a bit "talky" at times, and some of the intimate moments drag - perhaps they are a bit "over-reverent" to the written word in spots.
Laughing Mom on June 30, 2009:
Is it safe to admit here that I have never been able to sit through "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe"? I fall asleep everytime!
Great picks here redElf!
Queen of the Lint from The Laundry Room on June 30, 2009:
Great hub! I always hated Cruella de Ville. I mean, she wanted to make a coat out of puppies? That's really bad if she doesn't even have a heart for puppies. The book 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith? was really good, too. Cruella was even scary on the page!
Shalini Kagal from India on June 30, 2009:
You've rounded all the great ones up and presented them so well - that was a great walk down memory lane :)
ralwus on June 30, 2009:
I especially liked that boogy man thing in the Jack Halloween. I can't recall the name of the film now, it was way cool and lots of music. You have a nice selection here.
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 30, 2009:
Thanks so much Christoph...and lucky you !
I never got to play many real villains, though I once played the BBC Lady in "The Killing of Sister George". She was quite a piece of work, but not truly a villain.
Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on June 29, 2009:
"We are Siamese if you please." It was fun to revisit the Disney Villains! I well-rounded thorough look at some of the greatest ever to hit the screen. As an actor, I can say villains are easily the most fun roles to play! Great job!
RedElf (author) from Canada on June 29, 2009:
Hey there, Enelle - love the new avatar, btw...Right on that one - there are so many really good villains, and so little time, lol.
Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on June 29, 2009:
And who can forget Easma (spelling?) and Kronk - villiany and stupidity personfied lol in The Emperor's New Groove...