It's Good to be Bad: Why the World has Gone Mad for Disney Villains
"Disney villains are no ordinary villains. They do evil so well, they make it look good."
I recently purchased a gorgeous Disney bag by LoungeFly, which had an Alice in Wonderland print on it. I was delighted when it arrived, but was even more delighted when I found out that within the same line, was a purse depicting Disney Villains. This incident led me to ponder….why do I get so excited about things to do with Disney’s villains? I am not the only one. In recent years, Disney Villains have taken the world by storm.
There are Facebook pages devoted to the fan worship of Disney Villains, there are films that have been rewritten to center on the villains, and there is merchandise for Africa. Disney Villains appear on clothing, figurines, snowglobes, stationary, pins, books, keyrings, and have even been released as limited edition dolls, in the Disney Villains Designer Collection. The Villains appear in Disney games, on mugs, notebooks, artwork and even have their own version of Monopoly. The spin-off Disney Channel movie ‘Descendants’ centred on the children of the Villains, and in the U.K., Disney films have been re-released on Blue Ray with Villain-specific art on the slipcover. The sheer amount of Disney Villain merchandise has now led the Disney Store to feature an entire landing page devoted to Disney Villains. ‘Disney Villains’ is now considered an official franchise by the Walt Disney Company, similar to that of ‘Disney Princesses’. Disney Villains have cornered the market, and there is no escaping them.
In the real world, however, nobody likes a villain. The normal reaction to those who are responsible for scheming, lying, controlling and downright manipulating, is far from the response that the canon of Disney villains receive.
So why do we like them?
Is it simply that for a long time, Disney merchandise has been so saturated with Princesses that we have become immune to them and enjoy seeing the antagonists of the film, enjoying the change?
No…the answer is simple: because Disney does villainy so well. When it comes to the battle between good and evil, Disney villains have demonstrated their wickedness with an unparalleled style.
Disney villains are no ordinary villains. They do evil so well, they make it look good.
Who Are The Villains?
"Not all Disney Villains are created equal, and not every Disney Villain is included in the official Disney Villain canon."
Having been in business more than 80 years, Disney has had ample chance to create rich, villainous characters and it has more than utilized this opportunity. To date, Disney has created almost 130 different villains in their films and television shows, many of whom have also made appearances in their video games, merchandise and theme parks.
However, not all Disney Villains are created equal, and not every Disney Villain is included in the official Disney Villain canon.
The following list presents the ‘Primary Villains.’ These villains can be seen on most Disney Villain related products, and are all official members of the Disney Villains franchise:
- The Evil Queen
- Cruella De Vil
- Captain Hook
- Queen of Hearts
In addition to this list, is also a list of ‘Recurring Villains.’ These villains appear less often, and on a smaller amount of material, despite some of them having gained more popularity among fans.
- Lady Tremaine
- Claude Frollo
Lastly, are the villains who are not considered part of the main group of Disney Villains, who seldom appear as Disney Villains, but who are have earned widespread reverence by Disney fans:
- Mother Gothel
- King Candy
- Shere Khan
- Governor Ratcliffe
- Anastasia and Drizella Tremaine
- Madame Mim
- Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear
Diva's of Darkness
"Disney's Divas of Darkness serves as a dark parallel to the Disney Princess franchise, made up of the evil female characters."
While many of the Villains have attracted interest, a special interest has arisen in the female villains. This led Disney to create a subset franchise of the most notable and popular female Disney Villains, called “Disney’s Divas of Darkness.”
Disney's Divas of Darkness serves as a dark parallel to the Disney Princess franchise, made up of the evil female characters.
The following members are the Divas of Darkness:
- The Evil Queen
- Lady Tremaine
- Queen of Hearts
- Cruella De Vil
- Mother Gothel
Interestingly, Disney has also named a franchise “Disney’s Sinister Cats,” consisting of the evil feline characters which grace their films. These include Lucifer, Si and Am, Shere Khan, Scar and the Cheshire Cat.
Why Do We Love Them?
"Disney Villains have a level of awesome which can only be understood as an adult."
So what do we love about Disney Villains? Let’s take a look at four reasons why we just can’t get enough of the wickedest characters in the Disney universe:
They are aimed at an older audience
When I was a child I disliked the villains, like I should have. They were mean, they stood in the way of the princess fulfilling her dreams and they didn’t have unreasonably good hair like the princesses. As an adult, I can now appreciate Maleficent’s passive aggression, the Evil Queen’s overly elaborate peacock throne and Ursula’s drag queen inspired makeup. In short, the Disney Villains have a level of awesome which can only be understood as an adult.
Villains are determined
Not even the princesses of Disney films can match the determination and strength of mind that the Villains display. When a villain wants something done, they remain unwavering in their determination. The Evil Queen was willing to have Snow White assassinated in order to get what she wanted, and when it failed, she poisoned the girl herself. By the same token, The Queen of Hearts had anybody who got in her way, beheaded. Whether they succeeded or not, nobody can say the villains don’t give it their all.
Villains are persistent
Villains don’t change their mind about anything – they are persistent in their endeavors. Gaston could have had his choice of women in the village, but his unrelenting focus was on Belle – to his death. Jafar sought to control the world and ended up in ten by ten inch prison for 1000 years. Once villains want something, they do not change their mind or concede.
Villains get knocked down, but they get back up (usually)
When Mother Gothel’s flower was taken, she stole the baby. When Ursula’s royalty was stripped, she manipulated the King’s daughter, and when Captain Hook had his hand bitten off, he stuck a hook on it and got back up to fight. Nothing breaks their stride.
"Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas is the only Disney Villain to be based on a real person"
Think you know everything there is to know about Disney Villains? Check out this list of Villains trivia!
- Most of the Villains wear the colors red, black or purple – the ‘villain’ colors
- Most of them also have green or yellow eyes, and some don’t even have irises.
- On Disney’s Once Upon a Time, Villains who died in their Disney films survive on the show, while those who survived their films were killed off on the show. To date, Hook is the only character who has survived in both his film and the series
- Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and Hans from Frozen are the youngest Disney Villains
- Scar from The Lion King and Hades from Hercules are the only villains who are also related to their film’s protagonist
- The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady Tremaine from Cinderella and Mother Gothel from Tangled are all adoptive mothers
- Disney Villain songs normally contain haunting laughter which is included in their soundtrack version
- Ursula from The Little Mermaid was originally intended to be Ariel’s aunt, Triton’s sister. This explains her comment that she used to live in the palace
- Ursula, Scar, Hades and Hans are the only characters to have siblings
- Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas is the only Disney Villain to be based on a real person
- Hades is the oldest Disney Villain, as he is an immortal god. Mother Gothel is the oldest human villain
- Gaston, Jafar and Frollo are the only male Disney Villains to have an obsession with the female lead of their films
- Maleficent is the only villain to ever serve as the main protagonist in her own film
- Frollo is the first villain to claim that he is good, despite his bad actions
- Hans is the first Disney Villain who is also the love interest of a protagonist
- Of the 11 primary members of the Disney Villains franchise, only five are known to have surely died during their film – Scar, Maleficent, Grimhilde, Jafar and Dr. Facilier. The fate of the rest is uncertain
- Only four villains have successfully killed off a major character in their films
- Due to the success of Maleficent, Disney are now producing further live-action villain films, starting with Cruella De Vil.
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