Disney Villains is a separate Walt Disney Co. franchise which brings to life over 120 villains from Disney films, television shows, video games, books and resorts. In this five-part series, we take a look at our top 5 Disney villains! This week, the spotlight is on….
This egotistical hunter is best known for his role as the antagonist in Disney’s 1991 feature animated film Beauty and the Beast.
At the beginning of the film, Gaston appears to be just extremely intolerable, rather than villainous. His conceited and rude behaviour makes him irritating but harmless. However, as time goes on, his obsession with winning over Belle intensifies and transforms him into a manipulative monster with murderous intentions. Gaston’s true villain is exposed when his determination to win Belle’s hand in marriage drives him to kill her true love. However, it is Gaston’s narcissistic qualities which make him so memorable. He is uncultured, arrogant and intolerably sexist, even for an 18th century man. Gaston’s overinflated ego ends up embarrassing him at his own wedding, and ultimately results in his accidental death.
Gaston does not feature at all in the literary version of Beauty and the Beast, and did not exist in the original concept for the Disney film. The 1988 screenplay did, however, include suitors competing for Belle’s hand whose natures contained similar characteristics of Gaston. The following year, when the screenplay was revised, Gaston was condensed into a single character and was given more prominent placing in the film.
Original concepts for Gaston place him as a tall, lank character with a defining facial mole and crooked nose, capped off with a white wig much like a French noblemen of Napoleon’s time. When Gaston’s physical appearance was adapted, so was his focal point in the film, with the relationship between Belle and Gaston weaving its way throughout the story, culminating in the final battle between himself and the beast.
Gaston’s demise was also planned differently in earlier scripts. In one screenplay, Gaston stabbed the beast with his rapier, only to be punched over the garden wall and meet an ambiguous fate, with another idea taking place in the forest, where Belle strikes him with a rock from behind in an attempt to save the Beast from Gaston. When he comes around he is surrounded by the wolves that scared Maurice out of the forest, and his fate it sealed. This ending was deemed to be to horrific and graphic for a Disney film and was scrapped.
Gaston: Both Beauty and Beast
Gaston is famous for his oversize stature and his extraordinary ability in expectorating. As he constantly states in the film, he is strong and handsome and very popular amongst the ladies in the village, a point which serves to fuel his massive ego. He has an athletic build as a result of spending his childhood eating four dozen eggs a day in order to grow into an adult that is ‘roughly the size of a barge’. He is handsome, with a prominent cleft chin and long black hair tied into a ponytail, and let’s not forget - ‘every last inch’ of him is covered with hair.
However, while brawn and brain do not normally go together, in Gaston’s case we have more than just a pretty face. Despite the impression throughout the film that Gaston is a bit vacant, his plans later in the film prove him to be more cunning than he appears. Gaston vocalizes his revulsion at reading and autonomy but actually proves himself to be a skilled blackmailer. In trying to win over Belle, Gaston devises a clever plan using Belle’s father, Maurice, as leverage. When that fails, Gaston manipulates the villagers into forming a mob to kill the beast. His motivations in this scene are purely selfish – he needs an army in order to infiltrate the castle and feigns concern for the village in order to get it.
Gaston is presented in the film as the Beast’s polar opposite. While the Beast has a hideous outer appearance, his inner nature is one of innocence and love for Belle. Gaston, on the other hand, is outwardly handsome and loved by the village people but is inwardly chauvinistic and egotistical. In the same way, the Beast, while recognising Belle’s beauty, eventually falls in love with her for her kind, compassionate nature, whereas Gaston wants to marry her purely for her looks – evident in the opening number where he states ; ‘When I met her, saw her… I said she's gorgeous and I fell’.
Gaston’s perception and treatment of women is openly sexist and chauvinistic. While the majority of the young women in the town seem to appeal to his charm and good looks, Belle sees Gaston for what he really is and often butt heads with him because of his views that ‘it’s not right for women to read.’ Gaston is quite vocal in his fear that if women read they will ‘get ideas in their head’ and start ‘thinking’. Gaston’s issue is that he views women as property. After pursuing Belle in vain, he ultimately decides that if he can’t have Belle, nobody will, and acquires a torch wielding crowd to go and harm the Beast.
Gaston’s sexism is also evident in the fact that he tells Belle he wants "six or seven strapping boys" like himself, eliminating the possibility of having daughters.
Gaston’s strength, attractiveness and male superiority do not ultimately serve him in the end. At the final battle, Gaston’s brute strength cannot finish the Beast off, so he turns to schoolyard bullying which backfires. The Beast lunges forward, overcome by his animal urges and holds Gaston over the drop from the roof of his castle. In a moment of desperation, Gaston pathetically begs for mercy, which the Beast grants, only to see Gaston stab him and then accidentally fall from the rooftop.
Richard White who voiced the character stated that he himself is unsure of whether or not Gaston survived the fall, pointing out that the body was never shown. However, the DVD commentary confirms Gaston’s death, mentioning that the skull and crossbones which can be seen in his eyes when he falls, confirms his fate.
- Beauty and the Beast
- House of Mouse
- Sing me a Story with Belle
- Once Upon a Time
- Beauty and the Beast, 2017 live action remake
- Marvel Comics
- Kingdom Keepers
- Villain Files
- The Beast Within: A Tale of Beauty’s Prince
- Descendant: Isle of Lost
- Beauty and the Beast: A Board Game Adventure
- Beauty and the Beast: Broadway Musical
- Disneyland Paris
- Tokyo Disneyland
- Gaston’s Tavern in Magic Kingdom
- Disney Villains: The Essential Guide
- Gaston was originally designed as a French nobleman, an idea that was later scrapped. However, it is implied in at least one scene in the film that he is wealthy
- In Once Upon a Time, Gaston and Belle are engaged through an arranged marriage
- The final battle scene was edited for the final cut. Gaston’s original line was ‘time to die!’, but was later changed to ‘Belle is mine!’ If you look closely, you will see that his lips still mouth the original line
- Scar’s death scene in The Lion King mirrors original concepts for Gaston’s death scene
- Gaston has gained considerable internet popularity, being made into memes that feature franchises such as Taco Bell and Chuck Norris
- Gaston’s character was loosely based on unsuccessful relationships screenwriter Linda Woolverton had been in
- Story reels for the original screenplay, included on the Platinum and Diamond editions of the film, show that Gaston’s surname was to be ‘LeGume’.
- The skulls in Gaston’s eyes were removed from the theatrical and VHS version but remain in the later DVD and Blu-Ray releases
- The number of arrows in Gaston’s pouch alternates between two, three and four throughout the film
- Gaston’s outfit when he proposes to Bell indicated a timeframe of late 17th to mid 18th century, however, a cameo from Belle in The Hunchback of Notre Dame raises questions about this, as this film was set in the 15th
- Gaston’s tavern which houses his collection of deer trophies also has a Bald Eagle’s head as well as that of a Water Buffalo, suggesting that Gaston has also hunted abroad.
- Gaston and the beast both have blue eyes, making Beauty and the Beast the first Disney film where the protagonist and antagonist share a physical feature.
- In the Broadway version, Gaston makes it clear that he intends on marrying Belle but continuing to see other girls. This makes him the first Disney villain to conspire to commit adultery
- Rupert Everett was considered to voice Gaston but was declined because he didn’t sound arrogant enough
- Gaston’s primary color of red was intended to symbolize evil and contrast with the innocent blues of Belle and the Beast.
- In ‘Villains Tonight’ which is performed on the Disney cruise line, Hades compares Gaston to Charlie Sheen
To check out our range of villain figures and ornaments from Beauty and the Beast, go here
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