SALT LAKE CITY — This weekend, Disney releases one of its most iconic villains to the world in the Angelina Jolie powered “Maleficent.”
Jolie looks absolutely perfect as the revenge-driven sorceress. And if she’s powerful enough to topple Fox’s X-Men at the box office, there’s a good chance we’ll be seeing more mouse-house wrongdoers as the focal point of future summer tent-poles.
So, in honor of the queen of malefactors, and simply because we can’t wait to see the film, we’ve come up with what we believe are the five most evil villains in Disney history.
Prince John ("Robin Hood")
One of the more complicated villains in the Disney library, Prince John’s vulnerability becomes the driving force behind his need to oppress the good people of Nottingham. Sure, it’s cute when we first see King Richard’s younger brother sucking his thumb, but when we witness how he compensates for his childlike insecurities, we realize there’s nothing lovable about this heartless tyrant.
An oft-overlooked villain, Prince John is a character so terrible that he imprisons women, children and God-fearing friars in order to get back at the one man, I mean fox, he hates the most — Robin Hood.
Pinocchio may have the longest list of horrible people of any Disney film, and really they all deserve a spot on this list. For the sake of order, however, we’ll make Stromboli the poster child for this terrifying animated adventure.
While Honest John and Gideon are pretty despicable, once you introduce Stromboli and the Coachman, you’ve entered a world possibly too scary and too bizarre for even Rod Serling.
Kidnapping, caging children, child labor, human or donkey trafficking — it’s all there, and all upsetting. By the time we get to Monstro the whale, we, the audience, are left wondering why anyone ever goes outside in that seemingly peaceful village … ever. Even with a well-intentioned cricket by your side, it might be the scariest place in the Disney universe.
Queen of Hearts ("Alice in Wonderland")
No one represents pure maniacal bloodlust better than Alice’s nemesis, the Queen of Hearts. Here is a bad guy who doesn’t waste her time with monologues or clever devices. No, she just cuts off your head. One minute you’re chums, and the next you’re headless.
There’s not much more to write about her, other than to say, in a Disney villain cage match, the Queen of Hearts wins every time. All other Disney villains will at least tell you why and how they’re going to ruin your life. By the time they get through the first few bars of their evil theme song, whack. No more head.
Yes, yes, you are one of Disney’s most evil villains. In fact, you’re so evil, you are the very reason No. 5 is even on this list.
Bambi’s mother is dead, and who is to blame for it? You! And now you have to live with yourself for the lot you forced on a poor orphaned fawn. It’s a good thing he has friends like Thumper and Flower and Friend Owl, because after the stunt you pulled, the cards are stacked against this fine young male deer. I’m not sure Faline will ever forgive you.
Shere Kahn ("The Jungle Book")
The very name Shere Kahn sends animal families packing. No one wants to be around when Kahn comes into town, especially if that character has anything to do with our previous villain.
There’s nothing Shere Kahn hates more than man, so when a young Mowgli enters his domain, the hunt is on. Who knows how this Bengal tiger would’ve behaved had you not murdered Bambi’s mom 25 years earlier, but that doesn’t matter now. Kahn hates mankind, and the child Mowgli happens to be part of that family.
Not only does Kahn deserve to be on this list of most evil Disney villains, he’d absolutely be on the Disney-characters-with-the-best-voice list as well.
Of course you have a favorite villain that didn’t make this list, and of course you have your reasons why they should be here. In fact, I had five villains that, at some point throughout this writing process, almost made the cut. So before you post your favorites in the comments, here are five more villains that deserve an honorable mention.
- Gaston ("Beauty and the Beast")
- Captain Hook ("Peter Pan")
- Lady Tremaine ("Cinderella")
- The Horned King ("The Black Cauldron")
- The Backson ("Winnie the Pooh" (2011))
Travis Poppleton has been covering movie news, film reviews and live events for Deseret News and KSL.com since 2010 and co-hosts the FlicksJunkies podcast. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.