I will admit that I’ve always been a weird kid. Even as early as 1st Grade, I was all about the counter-culture and I refused to follow anything that was “mainstream”. So, while other people my age can bond over their typical elementary school obsessions (boybands, television shows, games, barbies, talking to other kids…), my obsessions were always strange. I was all about spies, ninjas, and pirates. Especially pirates. But mostly, I was all about Disney Villains. The whole “Disney Princess hyper-femininity” thing always pissed me off. I didn’t want to be some frilly little princess. Who wanted that shallow crap? I wanted to be with the bad guys. They were the ones with the cool songs. They were the ones with the badass outfits. They were the ones with the interesting backstories. (Also shoutout to Piccolo and Vegeta, my personal elementary school crushes. Both bad guys who went on redemption arcs)
Anyway, Disney Villains were always my favorite Disney characters. My personal favorites being Captain Hook, Frollo, and Scar. I love John Silver too, but he’s not really a full-fledged villain. I didn’t even realize he was the villain of the story till I was much older. Captain Hook is cool because he combines my two favorite things. Pirates and Disney. Also it’s not like Peter Pan or Tinkerbell are particularly likable. Frollo is terrifying and frankly reminds me far too much of the current Republican party. Scar actually manages to kill someone and he has a great singing voice. I’ve checked the polls though. People insist on placing Maleficent on the top. But that’s a rant for another day.
I remember going back to Disney World the summer after I graduated High School. It wasn’t the princesses floating around that brought out the nostalgia in me (they just annoyed me. The princesses had personalities in the movies, why do they have to act like pretty pieces of cardboard in the parks?). It wasn’t the heroes saving the day or Mickey and the Gang’s cheerful optimism. It was the Disney Villains taking the stage during Fantasmic that got me sitting on the edge of my chair, grinning like an idiot. That gave me all the nostalgia. Like I said, I was a weird kid. Not much has changed.
I don’t know why it was that I always leaned towards the villains over the heroes or heroines. I do appreciate the good guys more now (except Peter Pan and Tinkerbell. Fuck them), but the villains hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is because they were always the misunderstood underdogs. All they really wanted was to be respected, admired, and to belong. They just went about it the wrong way and were condemned by society for their evil deeds. The bad guys were the misfits, the outcasts, and the ones who didn’t fit the mold. But they were okay with that. A little bitter, sure. But they took their fates and refused to stew silently in their anger and isolation. Who said “if I’m going to be the villain of the story, I’m going to be charismatic, flashy, and badass as hell”. I’m not saying the villains are anyone to look up to (they do horrible things), but there’s still a part of me that can’t help rooting for them. It’s a “love to hate” kind of thing. Except in the case of Captain Hook. Seriously, fuck Peter and Tink.
These days, the villains in Disney films are rather lackluster. The heroines, heroes, and sidekicks are better than ever. But the villains are all the same. More of a plot twist than an actual character in their own right. A little too sympathetic to be pure outright evil. Maybe Disney will soon figure out a way to make the current villains as good as the current good guys. “The Princess and the Frog” managed it, somehow. Until then, there’s always the classics to enjoy. Next time you watch a Disney movie, remember who gets the best songs, outfits, and backstories. (Except the creepy crab from Moana. Fuck that guy, too. He was too terrifying)