Five years after evil fairy Maleficent found the light in Disney’s smash-hit reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, the House Of Mouse’s one-time greatest baddie is threatening to return to the dark side once more in Mistress of Evil – in ODEON cinemas from 18 October.
But what is it about this horned antagonist, and her fellow Disney supervillains, that make them the ‘wickedest’ of them all?
At their core, every Disney villain is furious. They’ve often been wronged to the extent that all they can think about is unleashing their fury upon various magical kingdoms.
For instance, in the original 2014 film, Maleficent flips out because she’s not invited to a christening. But her name not being on the list doesn’t stop the horned fairy from barging in and wreaking havoc at King Stefan and Queen Leah’s fancy palace event. Yikes!
Disney knows how to do villains and has created some of the most terrifying antagonists in modern culture. Sometimes their power comes from their societal position, but often there’s magic or mysticism at play.
Maleficent is a powerful fairy whose abilities read like Avengers Top Trumps – including cursing (not swearing), hypnosis, metamorphosis, flight, and conjuring, summoning and manipulation of objects and beings. Put it this way, we wouldn’t mess with her.
We’re not just talking personality here, Disney villains are pretty prickly characters and often exhibit a particularly wicked sense of humour and utterly cutting one-liners, but quite often the spikiness is very literally expressed in their appearance.
Sharp clothing and angular facial features like pointed chins, heavily made-up peepers from which to serve devastating side-eye, and chiseled cheekbones are standard, with Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent aesthetic modelled on her existing features, just exaggerated. She even has horns and wings, and unsurprisingly, her evil eyebrow game is particularly strong.
Let’s face it. Without their famously worthy adversaries, Disney princesses would be out of a job.
The supervillains would say they have their reasons, we’re sure, and Maleficent’s retelling of the Sleeping Beauty tale explains hers, but when all is said and done, she still cursed a newborn baby and essentially sentenced Aurora to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and sleep for eternity before the sun sets on her 16th birthday – which, you have to admit, is a little harsh.
The Maleficent franchise is the first time a Disney movie has been retold from the villain’s perspective and when it’s reframed we see that King Stefan was actually not such a great King after all, and that Maleficent has lots of redeeming qualities.
So, which other Disney villains have been given an unfairly bad rep over the years? Next up Cruella de Vil is getting her own movie, so presumably there will be a perfectly understandable reason for her desire to kill puppies for fashion?