Thursday, April 26, 2012

Disney Villains: A Commentary on Growing Older

Stop for a second and think of your favorite Disney movie, and, if it has one, its villain.

Of the 51 feature-length, theatrically-released animated movies that are the ‘canon’ only the following don’t have a typical hero/villain dynamic:

Saludos Amigos
The Three Caballeros
Make Mine Music
Fun and Fancy Free
Melody Time
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Fantasia 2000
Chicken Little
Winnie the Pooh

Of the remaining 38, all of them have something in common: the hero is almost always younger than the villain. Check it out, with the warning that here be spoilers:

Obvious examples:

The Queen in Snow White
Honest John/Stromboli/The Coachman in Pinocchio
Lady Tremaine in Cinderella
The Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland
Captain Hook in Peter Pan
Aunt Sarah in Lady and the Tramp
Maleficent in Cinderella
Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians
Mad Madame Mim in The Sword in the Stone
Shere Khan in The Jungle Book
Edgar in The Aristocats
Prince John/Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood
Madame Medusa in The Rescuers
Slade in The Fox and the Hound
The Horned King in The Black Cauldron
Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective
Sykes in Oliver and Company
Ursula in The Little Mermaid
McLeach in The Rescuers Down Under
Jafar in Aladdin
Scar in The Lion King
Ratcliffe in Pocahontas
Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hades in Hercules
Shan Yu in Mulan
Clayton in Tarzan
Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove
Rourke in Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Captain Gantu in Lilo and Stitch
John Silver in Treasure Planet
Alameda Slim in Home on the Range
Bowler Hat Guy in Meet the Robinsons
Doctor Facilier in The Princess and the Frog
Gothel in Tangled

Never is the villain portrayed as younger. The few examples of the hero and villain being the same age are:

Ronno in Bambi
Brom Bones in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
Gaston in Beauty and the Beast
Denhai in Brother Bear

Note: All four of the villains who are roughly the same as age as the protagonist are young men (or, you know, a young male deer).

So remember kids: Villains are either people with grey hair (about half of the above) or strong, misguided young men.

As for protagonists, I’d say the oldest is maybe Mr. Toad, who is functionally an eight year-old. None of the others could be past 25. Yes, once your twenties are over you will become evil (if you haven’t already, as a man).

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