From Scar telling us to brace ourselves to the poor unfortunate souls of Ursula, Disney movie villains have played a vital role in simultaneously scaring viewers and becoming fan favorites over the decades.
In honor of the Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary later this year, Variety ranks the top 10 movie villains of all time from animation powerhouse.
The talented animators who have traversed the halls of the studio have created countless characters that transcend the boundaries of conventional archetypes: not only the whimsical roster of heroes that capture the hearts and imaginations of audiences worldwide, but also the villains pure and sinister that have left indelible traces. marks on the public.
For generations, Disney has tapped into the moral complexities of human nature, often challenging the viewer to question their own beliefs that can often live in the gray area between the existence of good and evil. We’ve seen it in explored redemption arcs such as Gaston in “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) or the Evil Queen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), giving audiences false hope that he can transform. but ultimately showing their evil is unchangeable.
Some of the most memorable villains have endured in pop culture, with icons like Cruella de Vil from “101 Dalmatians” and Maleficent from “Sleeping Beauty” inspiring live-action adaptations, reimaginings and spinoffs. There’s also a dramatic shift in diversity with characters like Mother Gothel from “Tangled” or Dr. Facilier from “The Princess and the Frog,” which provided a refreshing departure from the Eurocentric villains of the past.
Read Variety list of the best Disney villains below.
Honorable Mentions: Evil Queen (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”), Shere Khan (“The Jungle Book”), Syndrome (“The Incredibles”)
Ahead of The Walt Disney Co.’s 100th anniversary on October 16, Variety takes a look back at its rich creative legacy. For 10 weeks beginning July 5, Variety will release a new “best of” list honoring the powerhouse’s many accomplishments. With a long-standing legacy of bringing joy to people around the world, Disney’s cultural impact may be impossible to measure, but we’ll surely try with every new entry.
Jafar – Aladdin
The wizard wants it all, and with a fire-breathing staff in hand, he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.
In “Aladdin,” Robin Williams owns the genie back and forth, but Jonathan Freeman’s droopy-faced portrayal of Jafar is nothing short of exceptional.
His exaggerated intonations on particular lines, such as “You’d be surprised what you can experience”, provide the basis for a backstory worth exploring.
And who can forget all the iconic “hot Daddy Jafar” memes that littered the internet when viewers feasted on Dutch actor Marwan Kenzari in Guy Ritchie’s live-action adaptation? Still worth the price of admission.
Captain Hook – Peter Pan
The timeless Captain Hook from Disney’s “Peter Pan,” voiced by Hans Conried, is the pirate of all pirates in movie history (to me, anyway).
With brilliant comedic timing and a natural mix of sophistication and silly catchphrases (“Smee, my dear Smee”), Hook has been done and redone countless times in the live-action realm, but the lively impression will remain. always paramount.
Humans – Bambi
It is the evil that lives in all of us.
The invisible “man” in the heartbreaking 1942 classic “Bambi” probably triggered the inner complex in all of us that at some point, very soon, we were all going to lose our mothers in the most heinous of ways.
When the young Bambi frantically searches for his mother Faline, following a heartbreaking gunshot, his father Grand Prince of the Forest certainly does not evoke any empathy with his coldly pronounced “your mother can no longer be with you”.
Humans are terrible. Men could be worse.
Lady Tremaine – Cinderella
What a bad mom she is. So bad that few people even remember her name aside from “Evil Stepmother”.
In “Cinderella,” Lady Tremaine, voiced by Eleanor Audley, exudes sophistication. However, the cruelty and hatred towards his daughter-in-law, who lost her parents, is sharply pronounced.
Even the way she calls him to her room or drops the memorable word “if” regarding her leaving for prom is chilling and riveting.
Where is her origin story or post-event fallout as Black Widow?
Yzma – The Emperor’s New Groove
Everything Eartha Kitt has touched in this life is gold. The eccentric Yzma from the underrated “The Emperor’s New Groove” is one of them.
An Oscar-worthy vocal performance, the captivating and unforgettable creation from the stage-stealing ex-employee is too incredible not to adore.
His sly deliveries, sultry voice, and brilliant potion creations are among the most cited on Disney’s list. “Pull the lever, Kronk!” is a line that often repeats randomly around my house.
Gaston – Beauty and the Beast
He is vain. He has a reason.
In “Beauty and the Beast,” the first animated film nominated for Best Picture, Gaston has good looks and big muscles that make women crack, but he wants more. Much more.
Brought to life with a wicked pizzazz by Richard White, the blend of arrogance and narcissism is perfectly executed as it amplifies the same qualities that got the Beast into the mess he finds himself in.
Let’s not forget the eerie “Mob Song,” where the core of his villainy is etched into viewers’ minds before succumbing to a very long mountain fall.
Cruella d’Enfer – 101 Dalmatians
The lady kills dogs. That should automatically place her #1 on this list; However, there are a few other factors we need to consider when ranking these bad people.
The “101 Dalmatians” antagonist, beautifully voiced by legend Betty Lou Gerson, is unapologetic about her cruelty to animals. Yet with the excessive ostentation comes a distinctive black-and-white fashion that takes it to the straight edge of “fun.”
While despicable, the villain’s story sparked a live-action spin-off, where Emma Stone stepped into the shoes of the complex woman with a tragic backstory.
Cruella’s twisted desires are always on display.
Ursula – The Little Mermaid
The dastardly octopus/sea witch is a standout presence in the 1989 classic “The Little Mermaid,” with an iconic performance by Pat Carroll.
A larger-than-life personality, her flamboyance, lust for power, and lust for revenge are quite the match for young mermaid Ariel, who seeks the love of a human.
In the echo chamber of iconic villain songs, “Poor Unfortunate Souls” takes pride of place with its seductive charm and theatrical presentation that laid the groundwork for Melissa McCarthy to deliver a faithful rendition in the 2023 live-action remake. .
Scar – The Lion King
Scar can’t wait to be king, and he’ll do anything to get it, even kill his brother and nephew.
The cunning manipulation and tactics of the “third in line” to the throne are skillfully brought to life thanks to the team of expert animators and musicians who give it a quintessential villain number (“Be Prepared”) and, of course, , the voice talent of Oscar winner Jeremy Irons.
And while he may be “surrounded by idiots”, his charisma and power for hunger is best exemplified by his flawless killing of Mufasa during the stampede and his relentless disdain for young Simba.
Maleficent – Sleeping Beauty
A powerful presence, in addition to her iconic design of witchcraft and fashionable headdresses, the villainous “Sleeping Beauty”, voiced by Eleanor Audley, is the essence of cruelty and evil.
The way she delights in imposing curses and pain on others with a dramatic laugh makes the kids’ movie feel like Disney’s come closest to making an animated horror movie (that floating green light ).
And let’s not forget the simple fact that she transforms into a badass dragon. I know we’re supposed to support Princess Aurora and Prince Philip’s love, but is it too mean to share that we wanted her to live?