Lee has a bachelor's in English Lit. She loves analyzing fiction and obsessing over books, film, and television.
I realized recently that, damn, Disney villains are actually pretty awesome.
Probably because they're all gay.
I started thinking about my favorite Disney villains of all time, so here's a list of them. Keep in mind that this is all totally subjective and has to do with the villains I grew up with. I don't keep up with Disney anymore and I could care less about anything they put out after The Princess and the Frog.
So here we go. Here are -- in my opinion -- the best Disney villains of all time.
The Little Mermaid: Ursula
Yeah. You had to know Ursula would be on this list.
Voiced by Pat Carroll, she is a beloved classic villainess who oozed charisma, was hilarious, and was competent enough that she nearly duped poor little Ariel and ruled the seas. (But then, Ariel was a crappy, helpless protagonist who was saved by Daddy in the end, so it's not all that impressive that Ursula nearly duped her.)
Ursula was a great villain because she had great voice acting, mesmerizing animation, and so much charisma. I mean, the way she moved, the way she cracked jokes, the way she exhumed confidence.
Ursula had the power to change her appearance into anything, but she liked being big and curvy. While I was a pencil-thin child watching this film, it was something I still noticed.
Ariel -- this thin, beautiful girl -- was unhappy and was trying to change herself, while Ursula already thought she was the best thing since they put the pocket in pita (and it was awesome).
Speaking of which . . .
Hercules was the most awesome Disney movie with the most awesome villain for a long, long time.
Voiced by James Woods, Hades was a sarcastic, fast-talking asshole who you hated but loved at the same time. He was just that entertaining.
He had a terrible temper that made him literally catch fire, and he was actually a worthy adversary for Hercules, who he almost defeated after spending the entire film trying to find his weakness.
Voiced by Jonathan Freeman, Jafar was pretty hilarious. He was continuously screwed over just when it seemed like he was going to win -- losing the lamp to Abu, Aladdin arriving as Prince Ali, getting trapped in a lamp at the end, to name a few.
Jafar was always so close and yet so far (I guess that's why his name is Jafar. Ba-dum TISH). His frustration made him pretty entertaining, especially his continuous mispronunciation of Aladdin's nom de plume as "Prince Ah Boo Boo."
He was memorable to me because it was so fun to watch him scrambling always just within reach of his goals. His voice acting was also great, and his starring role in the sequel The Return of Jafar was an equally great performance.
"You're Only Second Rate" is easily one of my favorite Disney songs. Nope, not "Under the Sea" or "Hakuna Matata."
"You're Only Second Rate" is my jam.
The Lion King: Scar
If you were a child in the 90's and did not love The Lion King, it must've sucked that your parents sold your immortal soul to the Devil like that.
Voiced by Jeremy Irons, Scar was a pretty chilling villain as far as Disney baddies go. He was based on King Claudius from Hamlet, so it makes perfect sense that he was portrayed with a certain level of malice that would have been really disturbing if he hadn't been a cartoon lion.
Scar made it onto my list largely because Jeremy Irons' voice acting really made him as a character. That and Scar is actually a pretty complex villain as far as Disney villains go. He isn't a simple black and white, muhahaha guy. He actually has reasons beyond craving power for staging a coup. His deep and vicious hatred of his brother -- and possibly his parents -- is largely his motivation.
Basically, Scar's motives are personal and are beyond a mere craving for power, which -- ironically enough -- makes him more human than almost any other Disney villain to date.
The Emperor's New Groove: Yzma
Voiced by the beauteous and not forgotten Eartha Kitt, Yzma was the villain of The Emperor's New Groove (and probably the only Disney villain who isn't gay -- but then, she is wearing a lot of purple, so who knows?).
This movie is probably my favorite Disney movie ever, despite its flaws. It's hilarious and heartwarming, and Yzma is one of the best parts of it.
What's amusing about Yzma is that she raised Emperor Kuzco, he wound up being a spoiled brat, and then she paid for it when she was fired by him. And she is fired by him in the worst way. She is basically chucked out on the street with no means to continue supporting herself.
Yzma is rightfully furious but also completely lacks introspection. It never registers with her that Kuzco being an awful human being is kinda sorta her own fault. It also never registers with her that trying to kill him was going a bit far.
She should have just stuck with turning him into some kind of animal in order to teach him a lesson, like the slightly less evil enchantress in Beauty and the Beast. Instead, she wants him dead so that she can take over and rule in his place (and accidentally turns him into an animal anyway).
Too far, Yzma. Too far.
Probably the nicest thing about the movie, though, is that there is no typical ending where the villain dies by tripping and falling on their own butter knife. Instead, Yzma gets her just desserts by getting turned into a cat (Eartha Kitt was Cat Woman -- get it?) and being stuck that way. The end.
Hilarious and noteworthy villain all around.
A Bug's Life: Hopper
Hopper (Kevin Spacey) was the villain of 1998's A Bug's Life, and he was about as menacing as a grasshopper could get, pushing around the ants and growling and pinching the "flesh" between his eyes every time he was faced with the babbling incompetence of his minions.
He was actually a pretty great villain as far as Pixar films go -- the implication here being that most Pixar films have distant villains, the sort that don't even realize they're doing harm. Sid in Toy Story didn't even know the toys were alive, while Darla in Finding Nemo was just a little girl who didn't fully understand how she was doing the fish harm, and the bear in Brave was just . . . being a bear.
Basically, most "villains" in Pixar films are little more than plot devices. Hopper was not. Hopper was fully aware of what a piece of crap he was and was willing to do anything to maintain his status as shitlord. Even kill.
He was menacing, he was ruthless, he was awful, and he really did a good job of making the audience root for the ants. Plus, watching him continuously irritated by his blathering brother, Molt, was pretty great.
That's it. Those are my favorite Disney villains. None of the others really struck me the way these did (No, not even Cruella Deville), and I've seen pretty much every classic and Renaissance Disney film there is.
I thought about adding the unseen bastard who killed Bambi's mom, but this is a list for villains I found entertaining and enjoyable. I doubt anyone possessing something resembling a soul enjoyed the existence of Man in the forest.
© 2018 Lee