I have quite a few Disney villains that I love for different reasons. After doing Disney villain professional development workshops, presentations on Disney villains, and a Disney villain blog you think someone would have asked me which villain is my favorite. Here’s a list of some of my all time favorite Disney villains and Disney villains that I actually do hate, not love to hate.
Disney Villains I Love… to Hate
Jafar from Aladdin. No surprise to those who know me (Aladdin being my all time favorite movie) Jafar is one of those villains I just love to watch. His performance is Broadyway-esque and I love Broadway musicals. Probably helps that actor Jonathan Freeman, who voices Jafar, is a Broadway actor himself (and I got to see him playing Jafar live on Aladdin on Broadway).
Jafar is so elegant and regal in the way he holds himself and moves. He may have a not so great voice but I love the way he talks, how he will raise his voice one minute but then talk calmly the next. He’s not afraid to show emotion and has an amazing singing voice. Based on Team Starkid’s musical parody “Twisted: The Untold Story of a Royal Vizier” Jafar was just misunderstood. He was only trying to help the kingdom from a silly Sultan who played with toys all day and ignored the needs of his kingdom. (Side note: Team Starkid got Jonathan Freeman to voice the trailer for their musical, how cool is that?).
Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. Maybe a more surprising choice, since she wants to kill puppies. Not cool or even remotely lovable and yet… I still like watching her. To me, Cruella is a performer. She’s got the theatrics, she’s not afraid to be who she is (a strong female who goes for what she wants… but she also probably doesn’t have to work as hard because she has the money for it…), and she is kind of a bold feminist.
I personally grew up with the life action remake of 101 Dalmatians so Glen Close is my Cruella De Vil. A strong female businesswomen who tries to liberate women to be independent of men. While her ethics and tactics are very wrong and illegal her beliefs about gender equality, that a woman can and should do anything a man can do and more is what I like about her.
If you’ve noticed a pattern by now then this one is no surprise. Ursula, from The Little Mermaid, is a performer and I love watching her. She has such grace and elegance in the way she moves for someone who was banished. Her patience is also commendable, she doesn’t appear to lose her cool, until she accidentally kills her “poopsies”. Her body positivity and drag inspiration is what I love most about her. She’s different, she was born from a different style of inspiration, and I’m all for it.
Disney Villains I Just Can’t Stand
Basically all the white male villains. They remind me of real white men who do happen to have somewhat not nice or pleasant characteristics which makes them too real and hard to separate from reality. Here are a few examples:
Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Yes, I understand he comes from a past that believed women should not be educated but it doesn’t mean I’m not still upset when I see him. I also understand he’s technically the hero of the story, in the eyes of literally everyone except Belle (and the audience). Gaston is just trying to save his small town from a beast who happens to live in a castle with a magical mirror and enchanted furniture. And yet… I still cannot empathize with him. Privileged, cis gendered white man who literally cannot do anything wrong in the eyes of his small village. I suspect the way the village looks at and treats him is partly why he is so narcissistic to begin with. It’s a bit more messed up in the live action remake with his military PTSD, but does make for a more sympathetic story arch. Also, did anyone notice how much Luke Evans look like the animated Gaston?
Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo believes in his religion wholeheartedly to the point he uses his power and authority to oppress those who him and his religion believe unworthy of respect, human rights, and more. One of these people being Esmeralda. But he lusts for her and maybe even falls in love with her? I’m not sure, but I do know he believes she’s the devil for seducing him. Rather than owning up to his own feelings he blames Esmeralda, claiming he would never like her or want her unless it was because Esmeralda was a witch casting a spell on him.
While I understand everyone believes in different things and some of us have religions and others do not, the fact of the matter is Frollo believes Esmeralda and her people deserve to be oppressed. He even goes as far as to threaten Esmeralda and tell her she will die unless she agrees to be his forever. Watching that scene live in a theater, an older white man basically almost raping a young black woman, did make the audience uncomfortable. There was a lot of tension. And yes, the musical was called Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. And of course there’s how Frollo treated Quasimodo, raising him to believe he was a monster and all. That’s a whole other topic for another post.
Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas. Supposedly a very different man in American history, this version of Ratcliffe is much meaner and narrow minded. I can’t remember where I previously read that so I, unfortunately, cannot quote it. Of course the movie Pocahontas and the title character are not historically accurate either.
Governor Ratcliffe convinces his men that Native Americans are savages and that they must colonize America in the name of the crown (but really because he feels he’s running out of time to improve his status and reputation). Of course we can all assume there were very real people like Ratcliffe in history who successfully colonized America, hence where we all are today. To me, he’s not like Ursula, who is from a fantasy world, that I can separate myself from once the movie is over.
Maybe you’re wondering why I didn’t include Prince Hans from Frozen? Or maybe you already know why. I don’t find Prince Hans hateful or really all that villainous. He’s basically an ex boyfriend. How could he love Princess Anna after knowing her for a day? Even if he did kiss her it wouldn’t have worked because neither of them loved each other. Again, they only knew each other for a day.
I’m sure you can tell my feelings are genuine in categorizing these villains (I had to cut down all the things I wanted to say about the villains I hated whereas I didn’t have much to say about the villains I love). Of course there are many other great villains I did not mention that I wanted to mention, like Hades and Lady Tremaine, but I didn’t want to make this post overly long.
Who are your favorite villains and which villains do you absolutely hate?