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Top Five Miscast Disney Villains
Spork, Zelda Queen
zelda_queen
Hello I'm ZeldaQueen, and if there's snark, I'll take it.

 

None of us are strangers to the wonderful world of Disney villains. You get your pretty, sparkly princess, your boring male love interest, your incredibly annoying talking animals...and then you get them. Terrifying, snarky, and guaranteed to scare the crap out of your six-year-old self. Thanks a lot, Disney.

As many people have noted throughout the years though, Disney has been rather...lax when it comes to adapting books and fairy tales into movies. This is understandable in some cases.


Doesn't do very well for a G-rating

Still, it can be a bit galling when one knows that the fire-breathing, demonic witch on the screen was a kindly old lady in the source material. So today, I'm going to name the top five miscast Disney villains. Why Top Five? Erm, deal with it.

Number Five...


 

Kaa, from The Jungle Book

Now technically Kaa isn't the main villain of the movie, which is why he's at the bottom of the list here. But he still warrants mention, considering how vastly different his character was. In movie, Kaa is a goofy snake who can hypnotize his prey and continues to try to subdue and eat Mowgli. And he nearly pulls it off twice, both times with incredibly creepy pedophilia undertones that, judging by the amount of fan art online, hit a ton of fetish fuel buttons.




In the book, Kaa is a mentor to Mowgli and only ever tries to help the kid. He saves him from the monkeys and even provides some advice for battle.

Kaa - downgraded from slippery friend to comic child eater.

Number Four...




The Queen of Hearts, from Alice in Wonderland

Just about every child remembers this ax-crazy queen and her cries of "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!", all while playing croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs (hey, in Wonderland all things are possible). She was larger than life, scary as heck, but also kind of bipolar, swinging between being quite pleasant and being full-on nutso.
 

While almost all adaptations of Alice in Wonderland use the Queen of Hearts as the villainous, in the book, she actually was no worse than a number of other inhabitants of the world. While she did constantly order beheadings, it's made quite clear that her husband secretly pardons everyone and the Griffin implies that that everyone is only humoring her, while she never seems to notice the difference. Disney's Queen of Hearts, interestingly, was actually a blend of three characters from the books. She carries the name and catchphrase of the QoH, but her mood swings were a characteristic of the usually unknown Duchess (the owner of the Cheshire Cat, and a woman who switches alarmingly between hating Alice and thinking she's fantastic). Oh, and that line she utters, "All ways are mine"? It is actually the catchphrase of the Red Queen from the sequel, who is the queen piece of a chess board. These things make sense in context.

The Queen of Hearts - she never seems to get any love

 

Number Three...
 

Ursala, from The Little Mermaid

Okay, seriously, who here does not know about Ursala? The creepy sea witch who basically makes a living performing Faustian deals for unsuspecting merfolk? Yeah. Thought so. With her terrifying demeanor, weirdly seductive methods, and kickass villain song, why wouldn't she be considered one of the greatest Disney villains of all time?
 

In the fairy tale, the sea witch (as she is only ever referred) is still unnerving, but more neutral than actually evil. She shows up only once to make the deal with the mermaid, cuts out her tongue, gives her legs, and that's it. There are no additional plots or schemes and she only makes one other deal in it (she sells the mermaid's sisters a magic knife in exchange for their hair). Of course, she also never sings "Poor Unfortunate Souls", so Disney kind of improved on the character.

Ursala - no good deal goes unpunished.

 

Number Two...

Hades, from Hercules

One of the problems that tends to arise when one goes for a culture that lies outside of their comfort zone is that things get a little...mixed up in translation. This is what happened in the Disney film, Hercules. In it, Hades is a snarky, Devil-like bastard who wants to kidnap baby Hercules because...the kid'll eventually ruin his plans for world domination. Or something. I don't know. He also owns the soul of the love interest and enjoys making Faustian deals, much like Ursala. And his blue, fiery hair is awesome.

In the mythology...Hades was actually a pretty cool guy. He pretty much stayed in the Underworld and judged the dead. The really important and good guys went to the Elysian fields, the really horrible guys were given karmic punishments, and most everyone else just sort of wandered around. He never had any plans to conquer the Olympians and was one of the few deities that actually didn't go out raping countless mortal women. Aside from the kidnapping Persephone thing, he was pretty well behaved. Of course, the Disney movie also ignores the fact that Zeus had children left and right, who were all crazy powerful and heroic. Or the fact that Zeus was a jealous bastard who would have rammed a bolt of lightning up Hades' ass for even thinking about overthrowing him. So yeah...

Hades - Dealing with the dead got him a bad rep

And the Number One Miscast Disney Villain is...


Judge Claude Frollo, from The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Man, this dude just keeps popping up on this site, doesn't he? And no, don't pretend you don't know him. Scary dude, murdered a woman and tried to drop her baby down the well in his first ten minutes of screen time? Creepily sniffed the hair of a woman he tried to kill not moments before? Makes a damned good effort to burn Paris to the ground, just to deal with his lust? Lies to Quasimodo and belittles the poor guy at the same time? Ring any *ahem* bells?

Believe it or not, in Victor Hugo's novel, Frollo was actually more of a sympathetic villain than a complete monster. Far from murdering an innocent gypsy woman and a baby, Frollo's first act in the book was to take in the abandoned, misshapen child left on his doorstep. All while he himself was an orphan taking care of his slacker sixteen-year-old brother. He falls into villain territory later, when he falls in lust with Esmeralda. Having taken a vow of celibacy and suffering from an extreme and irrational fear of women, Frollo begins to go increasingly insane, paving the way for the tragic ending that Disney unsurprisingly omitted.

Judge Claude Frollo - a man of God who inevitably was demonized.


And those are my top five miscast Disney villains. Hope you all enjoyed this, and I'll come up with a snappy ending just as soon as I think it up


Note: All movies mentioned are property of Disney. I do not own any of the pictures used. They are the property of Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Hans Christian Anderson, Victor Hugo, and Disney.



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5. Kaa: Pedophilia undertones? 0_0 Umm...maybe I should try watching the movie again, because I certainly never got *those* vibes from him. But yeah, going back to how Disney vilified his character, it's probably because he was a snake, and snakes are usually depicted in Western culture as signs of evil.

3. Ursula: Yeah, I remember the first time that I read the original "Little Mermaid" and being surprised on how mundane the sea witch was. It was after I had watched the Disney version, of course, and while Hans Christian Andersen version that I read didn't mention all that nasty stuff about the mermaid's feet causing her to feel pain and all that, I was surprised that that was the only role the witch had: give the mermaid legs and take away her voice and that's it (as well as make an exchange with her sisters later on).

2. Hades: Ah, yes, I know all about this. *groans* Don't get me wrong, Hades was certainly a charismatic villain in the Disney version, but boy, did they get his character wrong. And Disney hasn't been the only one. In "Clash of the Titans" and in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," Hades was also depicted as a villain. I personally think it's just Hollywood's increasingly irritating goal to Christianize everything. In their eyes: Zeus, lord of the heavens, must equal God, who's also the lord of the heavens. Since Hades is Lord of the Underworld, and in Christian lore, the Devil is the Lord of the Underworld (a.k.a. Hell), then Hades must be bad. And since the Devil tried to overthrow God when he was still Lucifer (in Miltonic folklore), and since Hades = Devil, then Hades must try to overthrow Zeus in every adaptation of Greek mythology that Hollywood tries to make. Even though in no Greek myth that I've read (and believe me, I've read a *lot*) does Hades ever attempt to overthrow Zeus. *sighs irritably* Hollywood, stop trying to Christianize my culture. Seriously. My ancestors' religion predated Christianity by more than a thousand years. I'm sorry if you don't think that kids can handle Greek mythology if there isn't a "familiar" Christian spin on it, but just stop it.

1. Yes, Frollo did get shafted, but at least he got a pretty cool song. The whole business with him and Esmeralda in the book seemed to me to be a tragic tale of two utterly deluded people. Frollo was convinced that he was in love with Esmeralda and that he was the one who was truly suffering even though he had done all of these terrible things to her. He convinced himself that he was in love with her and he barely knew her! The same thing was true with Esmeralda. She was in love with Phoebus and was desperate to do anything to save him even though he was nothing more than a lecherous, insensitive rake. She was too blind to see that Phoebus was a terrible person who wasn't worth all of the suffering that she had gone through and Frollo was too blind to see that Esmeralda was nothing more than a silly, single-minded girl who was too stupid to see that her boyfriend was a jerk.

I missed it the first time around meself, but there's the song "Trust in Me" and...yeah... ^^; In any case, there's *some* sort of underlying fetish stuff going on. Just Google "Kaa" and see all of the fanart. Or don't. O_o

Yeah, it is a shame about Hades. And I agree about Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson, there really wasn't any excuse for them. CotT didn't have him in the original movie and in the myth, he actually loaned Perseus his invisibility helmet to help out! And in the book for PJ, Hades wasn't the villain at all. In fact, he was trying actively to help out. And it *is* possible to have Hades as a hero in a kid's adaptation. Class of the Titans did it. Yeah, he was kind of...erm swishy in it, but he was still a nice guy who was happily married with Persephone and his underworld clearly wasn't Hell (they show Orpheus in the Elysian Fields).

Agreed on Frollo. My view is that if someone must be made a villain, at least make them a cool one. And Disney really did spare no expense with making him terrifying. In fact, the Nostalgia Critic named him second only to Chernabog when it came to Disney villains.

Yeah, maybe I shouldn't look. My childhood memories have been ruined enough by the Internet. *shudders*

Exactly, Hades helped Perseus along with some of the other gods. But yeah, there was a lot of Christian influence in the Percy Jackson movie. In one scene, Hades even appears as a fiery demon with wings.

I watched the Nostalgia Critic's list of Top 11 Disney villains and I think Frollo came in fourth, actually. Maleficent was second and I think she deserved it. Not only was she a powerful sorceress with an awesome character design, but she could turn into a huge dragon! How cool is that?

But Frollo did come in first when it came to the Nostalgia Critic's Top 11 Villain Songs.

Aw, that sucks. I haven't seen the PJ movie (Chris Columbus and I aren't on the best of terms >_<), but I heard that they made him the villain and Persephone hated him. It really is a shame, especially since the author put so much effort into getting it right in the books. :(

Really? *Youtubes* Huh, you're right. But yeah, Maleficent was awesome. And hey, she called upon the fires of Hell. In a children's movie. XD

Yes, it's true. They did make Hades a villain (although he wasn't the main villain, since the person who stole the lightning bolt was somebody else entirely) and Persephone did hate him (and not only that, she was portrayed by Rosario Dawson as a promiscuous adulteress who hit on Percy's satyr friend -_-).

Just out of curiosity, why aren't you and Chris Columbus on the best of terms? Is it because of the Harry Potter films he directed or something else?

Yeah, it's mainly the first two Harry Potter movies. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate them and I think they've got merit and all, but they're just so...stiff. And staged. The only movie he's made that I've really liked is Young Sherlock Holmes.

Ah, I see. I actually do like those two films, but I can understand why some people wouldn't. To each his (or her) own. ^^

And I haven't seen the whole movie, but I have seen parts of "Young Sherlock Holmes." It's scary, but neat.

By the way, which fairytale is the top picture, the one with the guy with multiple heads, supposed to be depicting?

Yeah, I don't hate it, I just don't care for it. ^^ It is a good start to the series, I'm just glad it didn't stay that way for the darker books.

Young Sherlock Holmes is actually weirdly like a Harry Potter precursor. It's three kids (two guys and a girl) in an English boarding school, trying to solve a supernatural mystery. And it is quite scary, especially the hallucination the girl has at one point. O_o And as much as the depiction of bumbling Watson can be annoying, Watson was adorable in that. XD

I just Googled "Red Fairy Book", so I'm not sure. Hang on... *runs off to check copy* Ah yes, it's the tale of Soria Moira Castle. In it, the young man has to kill the multi-headed troll to save the princess behind him.

Let's not forget Malificent. IIRC, the only reason she cursed the princess in 'Sleeping Beauty' was because the king forgot to invite her to the baby's party. Still bitchy, but when you compare her to the Prince's stepmother (an ogress who wanted to cook and eat the Princess and her children!) or the Prince himself (in some stories, he sees her asleep, rapes her and leaves. She only wakes up when she gives birth to twins, and one of them sucks on her finger, removing the splinter that was keeping her asleep), and suddenly Malificent doesn't seem too bad.

Also when I first watched 'Hercules,' I got a crush on Hades' voice. Heck, that's the only reason I've been playing Kingdom Hearts (aside from the nerdgasm of FINAL FANTASY MEETS DISNEY OMFG).

Yeah, I considered adding Maleficent, but her fairy tale self still strayed a bit too far into villain territory. ^^; Still, you're right about the stepmother and prince! Small wonder those bits are ignored in modern adaptations.

Hades is awesome! XD He's one of the smoothest villains, with Dr. Facilier.

Seriously. That's some creepy shit, even creepier than the necrophiliac undertones in Snow White O-o

FACILIER! *shakes fist*

...Sorry. My inner five-year old girl will never forgive him for what he did to Ray >:(

"...Sorry. My inner five-year old girl will never forgive him for what he did to Ray >:("

T_T Poor Ray! Curse Disney for going back to their tradition of sneaking sad, dark stuff into their princess movies. Still, he got to be with his sweetie at the end. :')

(Deleted comment)
I could almost forgive Hades in the Disney one because it's a kid's movie and all. It seriously gets annoying when movies that are well able to explain the mythology of the Greek gods take shortcuts like that. Clash of the Titans remake? Yep! (Not to mention that they made Zeus pretty much a Jesus allegory, what with bringing Io back from the dead and all). Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the movie? (Which is even more annoying, because apparently he was perfectly fine in the book. The author really did his research)

Ares huh? Well, it would make more sense at least. I'm not sure why they would skip Cronus, especially since he's probably the closest the Olympians had to a serious enemy. I guess they might not want to scare kids into thinking that Daddy could be evil, but they have plenty of evil stepmothers...dunno.

Oh, one thing that did get Hades right - the TV show "Class of the Titans". Kronos is the bad guy, Hades is fine and pretty much stays in the Underworld (although he is a bit...erm swishy) and he and Persephone are happily married.

The real villain of the Heracles story (Hercules is the Roman version of his name, actually) was Hera, although she wasn't quite a supervillain.
Zeus had yet another kid with a mortal woman. Hera got mad and jealous and sent two snakes. Baby Heracles was really strong and killed them.
Later, he got married and had kids. Hera (I think) temporarily made him crazy and he killed his wife and kids. Then he had to do twelve labors as punishment.
Sooo the Disney plot isn't even close...but then again, I can see why they changed it. Starts with Zeus cheating on his wife, then the hero goes crazy and kills his family...Not quite family-friendly in the original.

Why is that people makes the same person the big bad villain in every adaptation? When I was a child I did not know that some of these characters were not evil in the source material because has been made a villain in more than one adaptation of the particular work.

Also about the evil stepmother thing Hera was the sister of Zeus in Greek Mythology although it does not mention it in the firm and Hades was Herakles uncle as Hades is Zeus, which is also not mention in Disney's. I read some of Greek Mythology and I aware that Hades is not evil although evil uncles are also comment as there is a trope about them on tvtropes. And Hera is Herakles stepmother as well as aunt as she is Zeus's sister, which would make her Herakles aunt and some juvenile graphic novels that tells the Greek Myth about the twelve labors Herakles got away with mentioning this. Although why is he called Hercules instead of Herakles as Hercules is his Roman Mythology equivalent. Also Cronus is Herakles grandfather not father or were you saying that he was Zeus father although I do not know that many grandfathers who are evil in media. There is also Gaia as also an enemy of the Olympians for imprisoning the Titans (although not all of the Titans sided with Cronus as Rhea didn't) even though there imprison was well deserve as they support Cronus in battling his children despite the fact that he ate his own children out of fear they would rebell against him. Anyway they probably do not use Gaia as a villain in 'Disney's Hercules' because she is the personification of earth meaning she has a significant connect to the environment, and children are taught to cherish the environment.

Edited at 2012-09-18 05:37 am (UTC)

I'm very interested by Greek mythology and I really hate Disney's version of Hades. In fact, I hate everything about the movie Hercules.

Kaa

(Anonymous)
Good article, but Kaa wasn't all good in the books either. He did have the power of hypnosis, and he did use it on Baloo and Bagheera, but Mowgli saved them.

So all Disney really did was to change which good guy saved which other good guy from Kaa. In the book, being a human makes Mowgli immune to the hypnosis.

Oh, thanks for the correction! My information was based off of what I had been told about the books, which was that Kaa was a mentor to Mowgli.

Apologies!

Re: Kaa

(Anonymous)
That hypnotising episode happened when Kaa, Bagheera and Balu were rescuing Mowgli from the Bandar-log - after having resuced Mowgli, Kaa stayed behind in order to hypnotise the Bandar-log (and then presumably eat some of them). Because Begheera and Balu didn't leave fast enough and lingered about a bit, they were hypnotised, too, until Mowgli shook them out of the trance.
So yes, you have to be a bit careful around Kaa, but other than that, he was definitively one of the "good guys", if you want to call them like that.

Clayton should definitely be in the top 10 at least. In the book, he's Tarzan's cousin and Jane's first love interest. Tarzan purposely hides his identity as Lord Greystoke when he learns of it, because claiming the title would only hurt Jane and Clayton, since Tarzan doubts he'd be happy in civilization, and doubts Jane would be happy in the jungle.

In the Disney movie, he's a Gaston wannabe.

Ah. I didn't put him on because I really wasn't familiar with his book character. ^^;

Good point, though. If I'd known when I made the list, he likely would have made it.

The Percy Jackson movie was particularly awful because in the books he was actually one of the nicer gods. He was basically portrayed as a bit of a jerk who really didn't care about all the squabbles the other gods were having and was really cheesed off when he was suspected of stealing Zeus's thunderbolt.

Yeah, I heard about that. Sounds like a stupid change.

Trust in me, just in me, close your eyes. . . Yeah, I can see where the undertones are there. But I've never actually thought of it like that until I read this -_-||| I'm not a big fan of the Jungle Book, so that might also be why.

As for Ursula, I remember her role in the original story of the Little Mermaid not being that deep. But since there was no real "bad guy" and the ending wasn't really all sunshine and rainbows, Disney had to come up with something to mold it into their normal castings.

Poor Hades, in the original myths, Hera was the actual "villain," but of course Disney couldn't use that! Then they'd have to explain why Hera wanted to kill her husband's kid and how he wasn't hers either. Definitely kid-unfriendly concepts. I supposed the use of Hades was because death isn't generally depicted in a positive light (unless it comes with eternal life or reincarnation, but even then, there are exigent conditions regarding those). That, and the fact that death is mysterious and a typically scary concept makes sense that Hades, Lord of the Dead, was type-cast as "evil"

For the rest, I'm not all that familiar with the original materials so this was interesting to find. I've read the Wonderland stories and cliff note The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but that was such a long time ago, I don't truly recall everything that happened.

I did read the comments aikaterini wrote about Hades and found it amusing that there was a slight, but common, misconception on the depiction of Hades as the Satan because he's the ruler of the Underworld. Most media industries suffer that same error of regarding Hell as a place where Satan rules, when in fact, it's actually a prison for him to be placed in when the events of Revelation passes, at least that's what Catholics, Protestants, (wait there are too many sects to list, let's just go with most or many sects) believe. So, I always find that sort of mistake (as well as the portrayal of a firey monster with horns as Satan) just weird.

Hades could have been #1

(Anonymous)
Seriously. Just about every movie involving Greek gods makes Hades into Satan, which he never was. As for the "aside from the kidnapping Persephone thing", one could make a case he never kidnapped her. The rules of eating food in the underworld were above Hades, not created by him, and depending on which version of the myth it is, one could argue Persephone wanted to be with Hades and her mother was basically an ancient divine overprotective mom....

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