Thursday, September 17, 2009

Best of the Bads

Today while on break with Kelli, I found the newest addition to my playing card collection: Disney Villain Cards. This led me to start thinking about who would be my favorite Disney villain of all-time.

But first, let's eliminate some obvious also-rans:

1. Prince John (Robin Hood): Not entirely fair to the Prince, since Robin Hood is more about the team of good guys v the team of bad guys. However, I think Rule 1 of villains should be that they are a fair match for the hero, and since Prince John's defining characteristics are greed and incompetence, I just don't think he measures up. Worse, Prince John gets upstaged by his henchmen, Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is so impressive of a henchman that he gets his own henchmen.

2. MAN (Bambi): MAN is scary and destructive enough, and certainly causes enough evil, what with the burning down the forest and killing Bambi's mom and all. However, MAN is portrayed in the movie by a 3-note motif, and I think I'm looking for something a little more corporeal. Oddly enough, MAN didn't make the playing cards. I guess "dun dunnn DUNNNN ::cymbal crash::" was a little too hard to illustrate.

3. The Queen/Witch (Snow White): Probably the most evil of the evil villains, so evil in fact that she has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. I feel like the audience should kind of like the villain and sort of hope he prevails at some point. The Evil Queen hires an assassin to cut out Snow White's heart and bring it back in a golden box. It's just hard to get behind that sort of monster.

So, that leave me with this top five:

5. Cruella De Vil:

Pros: Has a catchy ditty written about her. Friends with the human protagonists. Has hilarious henchemn. Drives a cool car and smokes cigarettes with a holder. Dedicated.

Cons: Wants to kill puppies. You can never cheer for people who want to kill puppies, unless you are an Eagles fan.

4. Jafar:

Pros: Ridiculously powerful. High standing as Vizier, lots of wealth, magic powers, etc etc, making him perfect foil for penniless Aladdin. Friends with Gilbert Gottfried. Gets to say the awesome line, "There is a cave, boy; a cave of WONDERS!" The one villain to survive the movie.

Cons: Not particularly charismatic. No music number. Also, how did he lose? Really. He was already basically running the kingdom, because Lord knows that bumbling Sultan wasn't doing it. I mean, really, he can hypnotize people. Why didn't he just hypnotize Jasmine into marrying him? Or hypnotize whatever dolt she would eventually be forced to marry? Seems there were easier solutions to his problem than seeking out the cave of wonders.

3. Ursula the Sea Witch:

Pros: Runs a legitimate business that takes advantage of saps. Intelligent. Charming to the point of unctuousness. Also contains one of the creepier henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam.

Cons: Do we ever know what she does with the poor unfortunate souls once she turns them into creepy green plant things? I'm a little bit confused by her tactics.

(Didn't know whether to include Pixar movies or not. If I would have, 3rd place would've been occupied by Syndrome from The Incredibles)

2. Scar:

Pros: Sarcastic, rude, funny, willing to break the rules. Would've been the best uncle ever if it weren't for the whole line-of-succession-based assassination plot.

Cons: Hopelessly overmatched and outnumbered once Simba returns. Plus, he's not...

1. Gaston:

Turns out this was an easy choice, because I decided that Gaston was pretty much right all the way through. Look at the facts:

A. Gaston is successful at everything. He is the best hunter, best fighter, best at everything. He's going to have an excellent life ahead of him. People don't usually get to be liked by EVERYONE by being a jerk. Just sayin.

B. Gaston could've had any woman in town, but he's a one woman man. Sure, he may be a bit superficial, but then, Belle is the heroine for a reason: she really IS the best girl in the village. Gaston merely recognizes this, and, being the best himself, he knows he deserves the best. Even Maurice recognizes this.

C. Belle chooses the Beast over him. I think it's important to remember that the Beast was turned into a Beast because he was the biggest asshole on the face of the planet. And let's not pretend like the Beast was all nice when they met either. She was willing to give the Beast a chance despite the whole imprisoning her forever, but wouldn't give Gaston a chance because he's a bit superficial and not interested in literature? Perhaps she's not so good at looking past the surface herself. In additon, the nice sweet gesture that made her see the good in him? He didn't let her get eaten by wolves. I wouldn't let my least favorite person on the planet get eaten by wolves if I could prevent it. It doesn't exactly take a big dose of empathy for one to stop wolf-maulings.

D. His one "malicious" act is trying to get Maurice committed. As a mental health professional, I'm thinking that if someone were building insane contraptions in their basement that has a tendency to blow up their house from time to time, and even when they work, still involve rickety parts swinging sharp axes at perilous speeds and flipping logs in random directions, they qualify as a danger to themselves and others. So he greased a few palms to get his point across. He at least isn't attempting to murder anyone.

E. As for trying to kill the Beast, I think the larger point that the Beast kidnapped two citizens of the town shouldn't be overlooked. Yes, he let her go, but only when he saw that her father was dying, and the Beast's behavior at best can be called "erratic." Gaston may have gone a bit overboard, but his basic stance, that the Beast could be considered a threat to the town, was valid.

F. And then there's this:

A song and dance number. In 6/8 time. Gaston is the best and the rest are the drips.


KathyR said...

No way. The Queen in Snow White made me cry. None of those other clowns could make me cry.

I do have a soft spot for Jeremy Irons/Scar and the goose-stepping hyenas.

Andy said...

That's the point about the Queen. She's completely evil. Nothing likable about her. So she can't be my favorite.

She's the baddest of the bads. Not the best.

liz said...

You should rewrite the movie with Gaston as the hero.

オテモヤン said...