Oh, Those Naughty Ladies - My Favorite Female Disney Cartoon Villains
The Artful Villains of Walt Disney
This started out to be a nice little hub on villains in film, inspired by kpfingaz's forum. As I began my research, however, I quickly realized that there was simply too much material for one hub. Can you say...series?
Good villains (yes, there is such a thing as a "good" villain) require certain elements to be in place for their villainy to be truly apparent and appreciated. A decent plot is always welcome, and the requisite not-overly-bright henchmen add a nice touch, but truly evil villains need a truly good hero or heroine to upon whom to vent their spleen. It is difficult to vent one's spleen adequately if the target is unworthy in some way.
Good Witch? Bad Witch? Great Witch!
There's a lot of competition out there in the witching world. And almost anyone can be a decent enough bad witch. But it takes true artistry to lift a character from the merely "bad" category into a fully realized, truly awful, despicable, and magnificently evilness of a Great Villain.
And Mr. Disney certainly knew his witches.
First Ladies of Villany
Spleen Venting - Did Somebody Say, "Spleen Venting"?
Well, what can I say. When it comes to the ladies, they certainly seem to have the edge in the evil department - at least on film...and nobody can be a witch like a Disney witch.
The wicked queen was one of the first of many notable scary women I encountered. She was a force to be reckoned with as the queen, but when she transformed herself into the sly old crone, she was downright frightening. That film certainly taught us to be wary of stranger bearing gifts. Pity the poor old lady in a cloak who approached any of us with a juicy red apple - we knew what to expect, and were already primed to slam the door, or run - or both.
Cruella De Ville was a nasty piece of business, too. I couldn't imagine anyone wanting to skin those cute little puppies. Her "staff" left a lot to be desired in the efficiency department, but that is only to be expected. I really think there must be a special agency where one applies for hench-people.
Henchmen / Henchwomen Wanted
Every Great Witch Needs Few Good Men - Henchmen, That Is.
Let me see... where on earth could one find a good henchperson these days? There must be a few places to look up a good, er bad, er - well, a henchperson. Maybe the "minions" would know of a few unattached henchfolk out there.
Perhaps in Social Media posts? Though, I really can't see anyone actually adding that category to their online profile... Or maybe in the "want" ads? Aha!
Wanted - henchperson/creatures
Qualifications for Hench-person:
- hard-working and obsequious
- not stupid, but not overly bright
- somewhat useful in small ways but inept when the chips are down
- willing to accept all manner of abuse and come back for more
Ursula didn't really need many hench-fish, but her barracudas were rather frightful - all those sharp teeth.
Queenly Attributes of a Great Villain
Best Villains Ever? The Ladies Have It...
Sorry men, but let's be realistic here. When it comes to the sheer wicked duplicity that goes with creating mayhem and all sorts of nastiness, the ladies have it, hands down...and no cute remarks from the peanut gallery, thank you.
The fair sex is amply represented here by Tilda Swinton, a very classy lady, and, my goodness, doesn't she make an amazing bad girl? And, Susan Sarandon's earthly charms were certainly well-displayed in "Enchanted." Unfortunately, her magical charms are somewhat handicapped by the ineptitude of her (male) hench-twit...but she did make a lovely, campy spectacle striding down the neon-lit streets of New York in search of the enchanted Ella.
For absolute, awe-inspiring evil, though, few can top the White Witch from the Narnia Chronicles. She is truly a study in B.A.D.
She brings to mind the Snow Queen from the Brothers' Grimm fairy tale, but the queen pales in comparison. A pretty nasty package in her own right, she can't hold a candle to this computer-realized vision of Nasty, with her unquenchable lust for power.
Let's Not Leave Out the Men...
Don't Be Discouraged Men...
Women Just Make Better Villains
Sociological and gender concerns aside, you have to admit it, men. Or maybe you don't - after all, what rugged villain likes to get beat out by a girl? When it comes to BAD-ness, the women have it bagged.
But I wouldn't want you to think that the distaff side was being showcased at the expense of our menfolk. Men make great villains! (...and trust me, that's meant as a true compliment... )
One of the scariest dudes I remember from Walt Disney's Halloween Specials was the Headless Horseman. Mind you, he had a great build up before we ever laid eyes on him. We loved those Halloween shows. Hosted by the Mirror of Snow White Fame, the hour-long show featured all our frightful favorites: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Night on Bald Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice - come to think of it, that wretched broom certainly took on a nightmarish villainy all its own - and all the pranks of Donald Duck and his boys, Huey, Dewy and Louie, out for Halloween treats.
The evil wizard from "Aladdin" certainly owes a lot to the wicked viziers of the Arabian Nights. Sinbad's voyages in print or on screen would not have been complete without an evil advisor or two.
Jeremy Irons lent his voice and awesome talents to Scar, creating a truly frightening characterization. He out-smarmied the snake from Jungle Book: he cringed and begged with deplorable oiliness. He was truly a scary force to be reckoned with, unrepentant and unregenerate to his bitter end.
...and really, that's what it's all about, isn't it? The wicked ones must be vanquished and all put to right with the world. There will be loss, but in the end, the sacrifice will bring about renwal and the rebirth of peace. The boy will get the girl, the lost will be found, loved ones will be reunited - at least until the next evil villain crawls out of the woodwork...
A New Generation of Gorgeous Villany
New Entries into the 'Top Villains' category
Though technically not true cartoons, many of our new entries into the "let-me-scare-you-to-death" category do use CGI (computer generated/graphic interface) to produce some amazing effects. So much more advanced than the old "blue-screen" processes of earlier film-making, CGI has been a real game-changer in bringing fantastic and magical realities to life on the screen.
Uma Thurman turns in a totally awesomely evil performance as the wicked Queen in "Snow White and the Huntsman." From the same producers that brought us "Alice in Wonderland" this film takes the fairy to version to a much darker place.
This lady certainly proves she has the chops to take on the best of them. Her character leaps off the screen - scary, evil, and all too believable.
Keep an eye out for the pre-quell, another must-have for the Blu-ray collection. The morphing of her birds, rather scary black ravens, into her attire/person and she into a cloud of them so she can fly about creating mayhem are only a few of the stunning visual effects that make both films a feast for the eyes.
The inevitable confrontation between the is brilliantly realized, but the special effects never eclipse the talented cast. We never lose sight of the essential humanity of the characters, even though the heroics and the evil-doings are on an epic scale.
And There Will Be More Villains To Come...
So with fiendish laughter echoing in our ears, "Moo-ooo-hoo-aaa-aahhhh haahahaaaa", and with a passing nod to Si and Am, so ably voiced by Peggy Lee - Si and Am were,of course, the Siamese pussycat monsters who made life so miserable for poor Lady in "Lady and The Tramp" - we bid a fond farewell to our villainous crew, confident that the next time we need a good scare, they wiil be on hand to provide the goose bumps.
And the Ladies Have the Last Words...
© 2009 RedElf