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….
THE QUEEN OF HEARTS
The Queen of Hearts, known by title rather than name, is the antagonist of the 1951 film Alice in Wonderland. The film, which is 13th in the Disney canon, depicts the tyrannical, pathological queen as the ruler of Wonderland whose role has led her to take on one of the leading roles in the Disney Villain’s franchise.
Who’s Been Painting My Roses Red?
Though she doesn’t appear till two-thirds of the way through the film, the Queen is arguably the most unreasonable, cold-blooded murderer to grace the Disney canon.
The Queen is the corrupt and ruthless dictator of Wonderland and is arguably the maddest person in residence there, particularly given the sheer entertainment she gets out of beheading people. Psychotic to the core, the Queen is in the company of many others who are mad, but it is the dangerous nature of being in her presence that sets her apart. Not only does she control strict domination over her entire kingdom and her teeny, tiny husband, but when her subjects fail to live up to her standards, her answer to everything is decapitation.
Prone to temper tantrums and irrational decisions, the Queen suffers from psychotic mood swings that can see her go from contented to raging in seconds. She also stipulates that everyone around her accommodate her inflated ego, insisting that she is graced with phrases such as “Yes, your majesty”. This childish request only serves to further reinforce her irrational and narcissistic personality.
All Ways Here You See, Are The Queen’s Ways
The Disney movie is based on two books - the 1865 novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the 1871 sequel Through the Looking Glass. The books, both penned by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym ‘Lewis Carroll’, tell the story of Alice’s journey into Wonderland through a rabbit hole, and later, into another fantastical world through the mirror in her childhood home.
The Queen of Hearts is a feature character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and is depicted as the same tempestuous monarch who commands the death sentence for the smallest of offences. Her character is believed to contains elements of caricature based on Queen Victoria, and is also rumoured to be referencing Queen Margaret of the House of Lancaster. Speculation arose regarding this theory due to the red rose being a symbol for the House of Lancaster, while their rivals, the House of York maintained the white rose as their symbol, potentially explaining the theme of ‘painting the white roses red’.
The Queen is often confused with the Red Queen who appears in the second novel Through the Looking-Glass. Disney’s version of Alice in Wonderland is an amalgamation of the two books, and this can be seen especially in the character of the Queen of Hearts. She is portrayed very similarly to the Red Queen who is also depicted as being a strict ruler and associated with the colour red. In the film, the Queen is also given many of the lines owed to the Red Queen, in particular when she states that ‘all ways’ are ‘her ways’. In the Disney film this is articulated out of sheer ego, however in Alice Through the Looking-Glass the Red Queen is referring to the way in which the queen can freely move around a chess board.
The most notable difference between the Queen of Hearts that we get in the feature film and that of the Carroll tale, is the exclusion of a significant point from the film. In the book, the Cheshire cat states that the Queen’s decapitation threats are exactly that: threats. He even goes onto explicitly state that she has never seen it through, but rather is just being facetious. We certainly don’t get this from the film. What we do get is a cold, calculating Queen who sentences her subject to death for sport.
Alice in Wonderland
In the Disney feature film, the Queen is described by Alice as a ‘fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant.” Her stature is short and fat, which only makes her tiny husband look all the more ridiculous.
The Queen makes her appearance when Alice meets the cards painting the roses red and the Queen catches them out. When she can’t quickly identify which card committed the crime, she sentences all three to death via decapitation. When Alice tries to defend the cards, she calls attention to herself in front of the Queen who invites her to play croquet.
Though we are given a glimpse of her erratic behaviour in her conversation with Alice, it is during the croquet game that we gain true, terrifying insight into her character. The players and servants involved in the game cheat and run through hoops to try and keep the Queen from losing and beheading them. When the Cheshire cat gets involved in the game and sabotages Alice, the Queen sentences her to death, a sentence which is narrowly avoided by Alice’s escape from Wonderland.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Depicted by Helena Bonham Carter, the Queen here is called “Iracebeth of Crims” and is an amalgamation of Lewis Carroll’s characters the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. Her given name is a play on the word ‘Irascible’ which indicates her irritability and tendency to anger quickly. In the film, the Queen is also characterised by her hatred for animals, depicted in the way she uses them as furniture and slaves in the royal court.
What You Waiting For?
In the pop video by artist Gwen Stefani, the artist dresses up as a Queen of Hearts/Red Queen hybrid holding lots of pets more like the villain Cruella De Ville.
The Queen features in Mickey Mousecapade, Disney Villain’s Revenge and the Kingdom Hearts Series
Once Upon a Time
The Queen’s appearance in Once Upon a Time was engaging, and significant.
After first meeting the Queen in Season One, we later learn that she is in fact Cora, the mother of the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The backstory continues, telling of events which unfolded in her younger years such as being the daughter of a miller, meeting Rumpelstiltskin and arranging bargains with him while learning magic through a book of spells.
Her murderous nature is portrayed in the show when she kills Snow White’s mother, and her daughter’s true love Daniel. She is violent, vindictive and wholly pre-mediated in her acts. In retaliation for killing her true love, Regina tricks Cora into a looking glass, where she is sent to Wonderland and takes on her reign as the Queen of Hearts.
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
House of Mouse
The Queen is commonly seen in the Disney Parks around the world; including taking part in meet-and-greets in Disneyland California, Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland. She is also present in much of the Disney Villains merchandise and promotional entertainment that features throughout the resorts.
The Queen can be heard in the dark Alice in Wonderland ride, and comes out to play with her fellow characters Alice and Mad Hatter throughout the park during peak times. She also appears in live shows at Walt Disney World, particularly at Halloween.
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