Disney villains are, in many ways, just as iconic as Disney Princesses and Princes, having gained cult followings and as Disney fans grow older, have become more relatable. We understand their anger and jealousy and their exasperation with the often bratty personalities of the Princesses they try to smite and the meddling Princes who try to interfere with their plans.
In honour of the long-awaited Cruella film out today (28th May) starring Emma Stone in the titular role (review coming tomorrow!), here is my list of top 10 favourite Disney villains (all from animated films). It was a close call, and unfortunately some that missed the final 10 are Shere Khan from The Jungle Book, Captain Hook from Peter Pan, Mother Gothel from Tangled, Madame Mim from The Sword in the Stone, and Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas. Do any of your favourites make the list?
10) Hans (from Frozen)
The uniqueness of Hans is that he is not an obvious villain in Frozen until towards the end and his character is not exactly pivotal to the story. He is nonetheless a sly and snide villain, who conceals his true motive until the time to strike is right. TRUST NO BITCH.
9) Gaston (from Beauty and the Beast)
Surely every gay boy’s guilty pleasure? Gaston is tall, buff and charismatic but boy does he know it! Pretty much like most muscle Marys some people are physically attracted to. He’s extremely vain, arrogant and over-confident making him very hard to like at all in Beauty and the Beast but at the same time he still has comedic value.
8) Shan Yu (from Mulan)
Although there are varying ideas as to what Shan Yu’s Chinese name is meant to be, ironically, one translation for Shan is 善, which means “virtuous”. Which is definitely not what he is. Shan Yu from Mulan (sadly absent from the 2020 remake, or at least given a different name) is ruthless and merciless. The devastation and death he leaves in his wake proves him to be one of the best worst Disney villains.
7) Hades (from Hercules)
Hades is quite a lazy villain. A lot of his evildoing is from the sidelines and behind the scenes as he manipulates and orders others around to do his dirty work to defeat Hercules. But he’s vengeful and hot-tempered, which not only makes him a villain you don’t want to cross but also a comedic villain. He’s like a male Ursula, only nowhere near her level of power and evil.
6) Jafar (from Aladdin)
Jafar certainly looks and sounds villainous from the offset but he still manages to fool the Sultan and most of the others in Aladdin. He’s an extraordinarily powerful sorcerer that could potentially rival Maleficent and Ursula, but unlike them, he is easily fooled himself. My ranking for Jafar is of course based on the animated film and not the comparatively poor portrayal of him in the 2019 remake.
5) The Evil Queen (from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
The original Disney villain, the Evil Queen is the epitome of a vain villain. She may have appeared to just be a nasty, self-centred bitch but the Evil Queen showed her true powers when she transformed into the old hag to trick Snow White. It would have been great if the full extent of what she was capable of was explored.
4) Scar (from The Lion King)
The Lion King is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet so Scar’s evil uncle character is not all that original but he certainly is a real bastard of a character. He’s calculating and ruthless, with zero regrets about who his actions affect, unless it’s himself, plus his extremely dry wit is both funny and relatable.
3) Cruella de Vil (from 101 Dalmatians)
As we get into the top 3 it must be said that this was a very tight race but to be honest it was pretty much a three-way tie for the top spot. Cruella de Vil has a name befitting her completely mad and mean character, a woman whom once obsessed with something will stop at nothing to get it. It’ll be really interesting to see how the film portrays this iconic character – will she be humanised like Maleficent was so we can sympathise with her? And the big question is, will Emma Stone do the role once so brilliantly played by Glenn Close justice? She sure has some big fur coats to fill!
2) Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty)
THE Mistress of all Evil, Maleficent is possibly the worst best villain and the most powerful of them all. In Sleeping Beauty it’s a surprise more children weren’t scared of her when they watched it for she takes no prisoners (except Princess Aurora) and when she transforms into the dragon. Even today that scene could send chills down some people’s spines. Unfortunately, her characterisation was given a sympathetic, too-human makeover in the live-action film and it almost detracted from the cold, hard fact that she is nothing more than a evil, megalomaniac witch of the highest order.
1) Ursula (from The Little Mermaid)
As I said it was a tough choice – and as Ursula herself said, “life is full of tough choices, innit?” Ursula the Sea Witch takes the crown she took from King Triton in The Little Mermaid to be named my favourite Disney villain. She is everything all the other villains are rolled into one big, menacing, octopus-like creature – sneaky, sarcastic, selfish, vengeful, evil, powerful and power-hungry, merciless and ruthless – she’s a bad-ass bitch to the bone. What stands out about her character is how different she is to others, inspired by Divine the drag queen she was basically created for gays to worship her as their ultimate evil villain.
And there you have it, my top 10 favourite Disney villains! Comment below with your opinions on the list and your own personal choices!