5 of Our Favorite Disney Villains
As we celebrate the arrivals of Cruella and Loki to the large and small screens, we thought this would be the perfect time to take a look back at some of the most infamous (and certainly our favorite) villains from the worlds of Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. Villains come in all shapes and sizes of course, so rather than trying to rank them in any kind of order, we thought it would be more fun to group them by category, starting with…
5. The Evilest Villain
Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians
Speaking of Cruella, is there any villain more dastardly than Cruella De Vil? We promise no spoilers for the new film, but let’s reflect on the classic character from the 1961 animated classic. Everything about Cruella is positively maniacal. From her pursuit of puppy pelts to that crazed car chase scene, you can just see the crazy in her eyes. It’s no wonder she was named the 39th greatest movie villain by the American Film Institute. Legendary animator Marc Davis has said that he wanted Cruella to move “like someone you wouldn’t like.” As he also related, he was partly inspired by “one woman I knew who was just a monster. She was tall and thin and talked constantly – you never knew what she was saying, but you couldn’t get a word in edgewise.”
Honorable Mention: Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear, Toy Story 3
Yeah, he may smell like strawberries, but Lotso is just pure evil. Torn apart by rage and anger at being thrown away by his kid (though as we later discover, that’s not exactly what happened), Lotso reigns over Sunnyside Daycare with a tyrannical fist. Even when has a chance to redeem himself at the end of the film, his evil instincts take over and he chooses to send Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang to a seemingly unescapable demise. Thankfully, all turns out well in the end. For the good guys that is. For Lotso? He’d best heed the warning of his new bug-splattered plushy pals as he’s strapped to the front of a garbage truck, “keep yer mouth shut!”
4. Most Unintentionally Funny Villain
Randall Boggs, Monsters, Inc.
Randall is certainly an evil character…I mean how horrible do you have to be to center your diabolical scheme around kidnapping a child for their screams? Unfortunately for Randall, his monster super-power is the very thing that trips him up on occasion. Sure, it’s great to be able to blend into your surroundings and become invisible, but sometimes that ability comes back to haunt him, such as when Boo hits him with a baseball bat, turning Randall into many different colors (the red and white star pattern was particularly fetching). We get to see Randall’s back story in Monsters University, where he actually starts out as a pretty good monster (don’t forget that Mike Wazowski initially hoped that he would be his new life-long best friend!). However, he ends up losing the final task of the Scare Games to Sulley. As Sulley lets out the roar to end all roars in the Scare Simulator, Randall is shaken off the ceiling and falls onto a white carpet with pink hearts. Naturally he takes on the rug’s coloring, and let’s just say he isn’t quite as scary anymore. Oops. It’s no wonder he decided then and there to never lose to Sulley again.
Honorable Mention: Kronk, The Emperor’s New Groove
It’s a classic villain conundrum, does a henchman deserve to get labelled a villain just like their superior? It’s tough to say. On one hand they’re definitely on the wrong team, but quite often they’re not actually that evil themselves. Take Yzma’s sidekick, Kronk. Even though Kronk takes part in Ysma’s schemes (including, lest we forget, attempting to dispose of Kuzco’s unconscious body), he doesn’t share her thirst for evilness (in that same sequence, he decides to save Kuzco from his demise, though he hilariously fails and sends the Emperor over the falls anyway). In the end, Kronk is just a big, lovable oaf. And we love his spinach puffs.
3. The Most Frightening Villain
Ursula: The Little Mermaid
OK, this was a tough call. After all, “frightening” is a basic trait of every good villain, how can you choose just one? For us, Ursula gets the nod, especially for her transformation into a giant sea octopus, unleashing a powerful, deadly storm. Even her appearance in the Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction in the Magic Kingdom is frightening (although we concede hers is one of the most impressive Audio-Animatronic figure we’ve seen). Just think of the scene near the end where we see Ariel’s voice return. If you look off in the distance to the right, you can see the horrifying spectacle of Ursula being consumed by flames and lightning! Scary stuff! Though she totally deserved it.
Honorable Mention: Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame
We knew had to put the purple titan on this list somewhere, but where? Insanely powerful, insanely smart (and just, well, insane), Thanos is the ultimate villain. The scariest thing about him is his plan…it’s not a thirst for riches or fame or power. In his own twisted mind he truly thinks that he’s doing the right thing. In a way, you could say that his quest will give him the ultimate power and recognition (when he states then when he wipes out half of all life, the universe will be grateful), but in the end, nah, it’s just messed up. And we’ll never forgive him for what he did to Loki.
2. Most Sympathetic Villain
Loki: Marvel Cinematic Universe
Speaking of Loki, I don’t think there’s ever a villain we’ve rooted for more than the God of Mischief. No matter how evil, no matter how scheming, no matter how diabolical he ever got, we always held out hope that one day he would redeem himself. But as Thor said in Ragnarok: “Loki, I thought the world of you. I thought we were gonna fight side by side forever. But at the end of the day, you’re you and I’m me. I don’t know, maybe there’s still good in you.” At the end of Ragnarok, it seemed that Loki had turned the corner. But as the opening scene in Infinity War showed, Loki was destined to always be an enigma. Was he truly ready to vanquish Thanos and save the universe? Then again, why DID he have the Tesseract in first place? Sadly we will never know (though never say never as we embark on a time travel journey in the new Disney+ series). There’s no doubt Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal has a lot to with the sympathetic nature of the character. Hiddleston has done a masterful job of portraying Loki as a bad guy, but with an air of vulnerability that makes you want to believe he still has good in his heart. It’s no wonder that he’s become one of the most beloved villains in cinematic history. Then again, he does seem to get a pass for what he did in New York. He’s adopted, we hasten to add.
Honorable Mention: Syndrome: The Incredibles
Poor Buddy Pine. He just wanted to fight evil like his hero, Mr. Incredible. And think about it, this wasn’t just idle fandom. He committed himself to the role; coming up with an alter ego that was an homage to his hero, creating his own costume, and even coming up with his own “super power” (smarts), even though he wasn’t blessed with one. And what did he get in return? The cold shoulder. The big brush off. He was humiliated, and his whole self-worth was thrown into the garbage. Admittedly, that doesn’t give him an excuse to embark on the evil plots that he later hatched, but on some level, we do sympathize with the idea that not everyone needs to be special just to be special.
1. Our Favorite Redemption Story
Anton Ego: Ratatouille
When we first met Anton Ego, a chill of cold, calculating evil ran up and down our spines. Here was someone who’s sole mission in life was to denigrate, criticize, and dare we say ruin the lives of anyone who didn’t meet up to his self-important standards of culinary excellence. He delighted in the power he held over every chef and restaurant in Paris. And who can ever forget when he told Linguini: “I will return tomorrow night with high expectations. Pray you don’t disappoint me.” You could positively hear the evil dripping in every syllable. But Anton had a vulnerable side, one that he had locked away for years until it was brought back to life by that first bite of Remy’s ratatouille dish. Suddenly that evil, hardened critic was a fragile young boy, finding comfort in the warm meal that his mother lovingly prepared for him. In that moment Ego’s heart melted, and he went from being a cold-hearted villain to one of the most beloved characters in the Pixar universe. “Surprise me!” indeed!
Honorable mention: Anakin Skywalker, Star Wars
Of course, we had to include Darth Vader, as indeed the entire Star Wars double trilogy was an exploration of his arc from sympathetic young slave to Dark Lord of the Sith to heroic vanquisher of the Emperor (for the time being anyway). No movie moment was more surprising than his iconic declaration that he was Luke’s father (sorry, should have said “spoiler alert”), nor more poignant than we he asked Luke to take his mask off so that he could, for once, look upon his son with his own eyes. But (there’s always a “but” with villains), this doesn’t exactly get him off the hook for all of those younglings. And poor Captain Needa was just doing his best! Noooooo…