With MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL heading to a theatre near you this weekend, it’s time to revel in the villainy that Angelina Jolie’s memorable character unleashes upon those who would threaten her. As the live-action films of Disney's canon are starting to get more prevalent at the box office, we’ll probably get to see even more iconic villains realized in flesh and blood in the near future.
In honor of MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL’s release, and as a celebration of the spooky season kicking into full gear, we’d like to share our list of the top 10 Disney villains of all time. Some are more physically threatening than others; some are more brains than brawn. But all are valuable, sinister presences in the land of animated fairy tales, and if you’re not careful, they’ll get you!
1. Scar (The Lion King)
Simba’s scheming uncle, THE LION KING’S Scar, had designs on the royal throne of Pride Rock. He not only used a stampede of wildebeests to achieve them, but he also guilted Simba into thinking he killed his own father through his careless actions. That is truly the high mark of Disney villainy, no questions asked.
2. Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Framing your nephew for murder is horrific — leading a naive girl to a voiceless fate is pretty ruthless, too. On top of her evil deeds, THE LITTLE MERMAID’S Ursula has one of the best villain songs of all time, and she keeps eels as pets!
3. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Fashion is Cruella de Vil’s passion, and throughout Disney history, she has tried to take 101 dalmatians to make the perfect coat, which lands her high up on this list of baddies. Though it’s hard not to admire the fact that the woman knows how to dress, we'd prefer if her "materials" were a bit more humane.
4. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
Obviously, anyone who can shape-shift into various creatures is bound to use their skills for evil at some point. But Maleficent of SLEEPING BEAUTY (and MALEFICENT) fame probably uses her powers in the best, most evil way. Turning oneself into a gigantic dragon and getting the job done yourself is something that not all villains are qualified to do, but Maleficent is, and she’s a rock star for it.
5. Jafar (Aladdin)
Mystical powers are certainly a trump card that Disney’s villainous stable has cornered the market on. But ALADDIN’S Jafar has something even better to go along with his mind-control abilities: He’s one hell of a political operative. Smooth talk gets him most of the way, but his entrancing staff certainly seals the deal. It’s a bold strategy, and it pays off almost every time.
6. Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Gaston is a complicated villain, in that he tends to act more out of sheer ego than pure malice. That being said, he could only sing tavern songs for so long in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST before he eventually became more of a brute than usual and attempted to kill the Beast. His obsession with Belle, and his lack of smarts, was his ultimate downfall. If only he’d stuck to those tavern songs.
7. The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Only a villain could turn an apple into a weapon. So sure in her beauty and ready to kill in order to ensure its dominance, the Evil Queen of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS uses her disguise as an old crone bearing sweet poison, a clever trick Disney fans will never forget.
8. Professor Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Possibly the smartest, or at least one of the smartest, Disney villains of all time, Professor Ratigan almost had the crown of England’s royalty sitting on his head. With a bit of a temper and a habit for hiring the wrong sort of henchmen to get anything done, his smarts are somewhat held back. He still has a knack for a big sing-along though, and that definitely helps in a Disney movie.
9. Hades (Hercules)
If you’re ever talking to Hades, HERCULES’ main villain, you’d better bring a notepad, because you’re going to need it. A fast-talking schmoozer who likes to win his enemies over with oily charm and occasional acts of violence, he was born to be in the pantheon of Disney evil. A trickster of the highest order, you need to keep both eyes on him at all times.
10. Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
A man of conviction and order, Claude Frollo is supposed to be a pillar of the community in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME. But between shamefully sheltering his nephew, Quasimodo, and pursuing his unreturned romantic feelings toward the stunning Esmeralda, his fervor reaches such a fever pitch that it almost tears apart the community he's supposed to serve. His is one of the most satisfying Disney defeats of all time, in a vastly underrated film.
So, there you have it. These Disney villains know a thing or two about sticking it to the good guys, yet they all have some qualities that make us enjoy their moments on screen (against our better judgment).
And soon, you’ll be able to enjoy Angelina Jolie’s return in MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL! Get your tickets now for the weekend.