“5 Modern Disney Villains That Are Instant Classics (And 5 That Didn’t Live Up To Disney Standards)”
It goes without saying that Disney’s list of villains is nothing short of iconic. From the malevolent stare of the Evil Queen to the sinister smile of Scar, there’s no shortage of evil energy in this magical rogues gallery. But in recent years, Disney’s villains have taken an interesting new turn.
We’ve seen more than a few new entries into the studio’s villainous roster that aren’t like your average diabolical Disney character. Some truly live up to the title, but others fall flat and leave much to be desired. Don’t know what we’re talking about? Have a look at some hits and misses from Disney’s modern villains.
10 Substandard: Dawn Bellweather
To be fair, Bellwether isn’t a bad villain. On the contrary, next to the likes of Frollo and Sid Philips, she’s one of Disney’s most realistic villains in recent years, and that makes her an honest threat. The thing is, she just doesn’t fit the mold set before her from others of her kind.
Think about it, would you see someone like Maleficent, Cruella De Vil, or Ursula plot a political takeover using fear-mongering tactics to turn a population against itself? Her plot is realistically and plausibly evil, but she lacks the certain magic touch all great Disney villains have.
9 Classic: Tamatoa
Though Tamatoa is basically the mini-boss in the grand scheme of Moana, he’s definitely more of a villain than the volcanic Te Ká. He’s fun, charming, and a monstrous threat our heroes have to overcome to achieve their quest. He’s also got one of the catchiest songs since “Friends on the Other Side.’
Let’s look at what makes a basically good Disney villain shall we? They all have a charming but sinister demeanor, a gleeful or happy attitude towards committing their evil acts, a gruesome, comic, or comically gruesome defeat, and a snappy tune for the soundtrack. Sounds a lot like this devilish decapod to us.
8 Substandard: Mordu
Mordu from Pixar’s Brave could have been an absolutely smashing villain, all the right elements were there, but he was less of an actual antagonist and more of a mythical or spiritual force of malevolence than something that has much weight in the story. Since the studio tends to focus on more emotional and situational threats, we can sort of understand.
What makes us upset about Mordu’s semi-secondary role in the story is that he could have easily been a more-present and intense threat in this Celtic fantasy tale. If you want to see exactly what we’re talking about, watch the bear’s short film on Disney+.
7 Classic: Mother Gothel
Now here’s a villain that could run with the best of them. If you were to take the Evil Queen’s vanity and fuse it with the manipulation and malice of Claude Frollo, you’d get Mother Gothel. Definitely going above your standard wicked witch role, Gothel’s emotional abuse of the naive Rapunzel definitely makes her more than memorable.
Not only does Gothel relish in the evil she does, but she also has a big, brassy, Broadway-style musical number to express herself with as well. She’s so delightfully wicked, we’ll gladly grant her a spot on our list any day.
6 Substandard: Prince Hans
For a time, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles was the most controversial and talked about Disney villain the world had ever known. But let’s get real, Hans is only known for one big thing. That shocking villain-reveal in the last act of Frozen. After his 15 minutes of fame, is Hans really that big of a deal?
While it is true he did try to usurp the throne of Arendelle, attempt to manipulate the easily-impressed Anna, does he really pose that big of a threat? From what he tells us later, it sounds like his brothers are the ones with the real power.
5 Classic: Shenzi (Remake)
Say what you like about 2019’s remake of The Lion King, but one thing the filmmakers got absolutely spot-on was the reimagining of Shenzi. Opting to make her more like her wildlife counterpart, Shenzi is the alpha-female and takes no slack from any of her half-wit cronies.
Where this version of Scar was easily a watered-down version of the original behind a deceptively brilliant design, Shenzi proved to be the more perfect predator in the picture. Not to mention, the outright chilling vocal performance from Florence Kasumba was what solidified the character entirely. Needless to say, we’re impressed.
4 Substandard: Jafar (Remake)
On the other hand, not all remake villains are created equally. And there is no better example of that than the Jafar we received in 2019’s Aladdin. Granted, the film wasn’t bad as far as Disney live-action-remakes go, but there’s no question that the weakest element present was Jafar.
We know, we know, this is a reimagining of an animated film. But would it have killed Marwan Kenzari to be even just a little more animated? The guy is too restrained, composed, and honestly even a little too young to fill the serpentine sorcerer’s sinister shoes. We’d be lying if we said he wasn’t the film’s biggest issue.
3 Classic: Gabby Gabby
Toy Story 4 wasn’t a bad flick, but after the ending of the previous film, it wasn’t exactly what we’d call needed. That being said, it did give us one of the most disturbing and skin-crawlingly unsettling villains in the form of Gabby Gabby. If you have an issue with dolls or dummies, we suggest you skip this slot.
Gabby Gabby is one magic curse away from being a Goosebumps character, and Pixar went above and beyond the call of duty to make her creepier than any mutant toy in Sid’s room. Without going into spoilers, she definitely goes much farther to get her way than Pixar villains have before.
2 Substandard: William Wilkins
The phenomenal acting chops of Colin Firth aside, was a villain really necessary for a Mary Poppins movie? Think about it, did the first film need a villain to get its message across? Would an over-the-top mustachioed banker baddie really fit in this universe? Well, Disney sure tried.
Yes, we get that the lesson about not trusting everyone you meet and the whole wolf in sheep’s clothing bit. But is this really the film to do that gimmick in? It feels like Mr. Wilkins was just shoehorned in to give the film a villain just for the sake of having one.
1 Classic: Doctor Facilier
Our top spot definitely has to go to Dr. Facilier from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. Why? Because the film was essentially a return to form for Disney animation. A traditionally animated fairytale with all the trimmings and trappings of something like Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. Of course, a film like this needs a good villain.
He’s got personality, style, a maliciously marvelous musical number, and of course, he’s got friends on the other side. Facilier is one shadowy spellcaster we can definitely get behind. The fact that he’s voiced by none other than Keith David is just a bonus.
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