Friday, April 25, 2014

V: Villain (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)

A good villain can really make a story.

This seems especially true in Disney animated movies. I was watching Sleeping Beauty with the smaller monkey recently. Aurora or Briar Rose was completely uninteresting. The personality of a puddle. Even the monkey thought so.

But Maleficent? She was magnificent. Scary. Rocking that hat that makes it impossible to tell if she actually has horns or just an interesting sense of fashion.

Eleanor Audley did some amazing voicework in that character. And the animators understood the power of a good arched eyebrow.

Take Maleficent from the story and you have no story. Oddly enough, Aurora and Prince Phillip probably still end up married, since they were betrothed as children, but no one cares. There's no romance, no conflict, nothing to overcome. Two pretty, boring, rich people grow up easy and marry. That's no story.

This tradition of the villain making the story in Disney animated movies (especially the Princess ones) goes back to the first one. Snow White is so sweet she rots your teeth. It's the evil stepmother and her mirror that live in your memory. Cinderella pales next to her imposing and authoritarian stepmother. Alice is far less engaging on the screen than the mad Queen of Hearts. Captain Hook, even in his campiest moments, has more charisma than Wendy. And Ursula from the Little Mermaid!

In fact, I think we get all the way to Belle in 1991's Beauty and the Beast before we have a heroine who is interesting in any way. The heroines have gotten better as the years have gone on. Merida (from Brave) actually seems like someone I might like to know, and how refreshing that the romance storyline was secondary to the sisters' story in Frozen.

Come to think of it, Frozen didn't exactly have a villain. Hmmmm. Maybe there's hope for the heroines yet!
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.


  1. Great post. Reminds me I need to do better villains. I've let circumstances do most of the work, but maybe it's not enough.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

  2. Every story needs an antagonist. The antagonist is not always a person; it can be anything that hinders the protagonist from achieving his or her goal. But if it can be a person, that certainly does add color and flavor to the story. Good post, Samantha! :)

  3. I love Maleficent. She is so evil and yet I love her.

    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches