Maleficent. Scar. Cruella De Vil. These are just some examples of fantastic animated villains. There are so many great ones, in fact, that we here at Rotoscopers headquarters thought we’d spend the entire month of October celebrating them! So over this spooky month we’ll be posting daily articles and releasing videos profiling our favorite baddies, listing the best villain songs and just having fun with the most deliciously evil characters animation has to offer.
So if you liked our series of Princess Profiles last year, we hope you enjoy our Villain Vignettes series that starts today. On top of writing about plenty of different antagonists, we want to see who’s YOUR favorite one! Throughout the month you’ll have the chance to vote and decide who the best animated villain is!
But what makes a great villain? What is it about Ursula that makes it more likely for her to win the Best Villain Poll over whoever was the antagonist from Cars 2? Let’s have a look at some of the most important qualities a great villain needs to have.
Life’s No Good Without a Good Scare
A good villain has to be scary. Maybe not as terrifying as Other Mother from Coraline or as demented as Cruella, but movies with villains tend to work best when the bad guys are an actual threat to our heroes. That’s why Scar is such a great villain, for example. We know he’s dangerous because he turns this beautiful paradise of African beauty into a horrible dead deathland of death and, also, because he kills Mufasa.
Mother Gothel from Tangled is a good example of being scary without necessarily destroying an entire ecosystem. She’s a threat to Rapunzel and Flynn Rider because she knows exactly how to manipulate the princess. She knows her weak spots and how to exploit them so we know she’ll be a huge problem eventually. And she does ruin the atmosphere of one of the most beautiful animated sequences ever.
A Love/Hate Relationship
They may be the bad guys and perhaps their motivations are questionable, but we won’t fool anyone if we say we don’t like them. We are, after all, spending one month writing about them. So villains need to be a threat but they also need to be fun to hate. In a movie where the great Robin Williams voices the Genie, some of my favorite moments and biggest laughs still come from Jafar and his constant mispronunciation of Prince Ali of Ababwa. And there’s nothing quite like watching Syndrome monologuing or the entirety of this song.
Maleficent was an attempt at humanizing one of Disney’s greatest villains and it was made because understanding villains makes them more interesting. Whether you liked this movie or not, the original Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty works perfectly because we understand her. Maybe we wouldn’t all curse a baby to die if we weren’t invited to a party, but it’s still something we can relate to (The not-getting-invited-to-a-party part; not the baby-murder part.).
Or take Lotso, for example. Even though he’s a despicable bear that smells of strawberries and he almost kills our beloved Toy Gang, we see why he’s the way he is. He was replaced and that broke him so everything he does is to avoid getting hurt like that again. It makes sense and he’s not evil just for the sake of it. If an audience relates to why a villain does something it just makes them so much more interesting. We’ve all felt jealousy so some part of us relates to the Evil Queen from Snow White even if we don’t agree with the way she acts upon her jealousy.
So we hope you’re as excited as we are about October at the Rotoscopers. Think about your favorite villains, the most impactful deaths and the Disney Villains you love to hate so you can share your opinions with us throughout this delightfully evil month! Let the Villain Vignettes begin!
*NOTE: We understand Rasputin is not a Disney villain. It’s a classic Rotoscopers inside joke.
Read More Villain Vignettes
As we post a new Villain Vignette, we’ll post them here so you can easily find them.
Pablo Ruiz is a Colombian filmmaker. Movies like Toy Story, The Lion King and Aladdin made him fall in love with the art form and now he hopes to dedicate his life to telling stories, hopefully for Pixar (if they go back to doing original films).
Some of his ambitions are making a movie as emotionally impacting as Toy Story 3, meeting JK Rowling, and petting a million dogs. Follow him on Twitter (@PabloRV7).