Understanding our villains is key to comprehending the full narrative, Disney gets that, which is why it is releasing a feature on Cruella, come May 28. And now that it is looking in that direction, here are 15 villains whose stories we think would make for great movies. From the ‘evil stepmother’ Lady Tremaine of Cinderella to Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) supervillain Thanos, here are some well-written, dark characters brimming with potential for full-fledged features.
Hela – Thor Ragnarok
We will always need more layered, complex female characters on-screen. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to start this list with Marvel movie Thor Ragnarok’s ‘vamp’ Hela. Cate Blanchett played the role perfectly. Despite the somewhat limiting character exploration and screen time, the Oscar-winner sashayed her way onto the screen and into her viewers’ hearts. However, we still need a deeper understanding of Hela — why she made the choices she made and what makes her evil. And for that, we need a two-hour film, giving us a better glimpse into her psyche.
Mother Gothel – Tangled
Next up is the scary, twisted witch of the hit animated Disney film, Tangled. Mother Gothel was truly devious. She played the part of a toxic mother, and kept the princess’ identity a secret even to herself. She never let Rapunzel leave the tower and would manipulate her feelings, gaslighting her into believing that Rapunzel would prove to be a bad daughter if she didn’t pay heed to every word that Gothel uttered.
So, who really is Gothel? What made her kidnap the princess, was she always this evil? These questions can only be answered in a well-constructed spin-off.
Lady Tremaine — Cinderella
Clearly, we cannot seem to get enough of three-dimensional women characters who are powerful and mysterious. Cinderella’s step-mother Lady Tremaine is certainly an example. Surely, she did all that she did to make sure that her daughters got all the riches that her late husband had to offer, but was there really a need to turn poor Cinderella to the streets, by robbing her of everything she held dear? Why did Tremaine feel she needed to enslave her step-daughter? Could she not just have asked the woman to share her riches, and considering the big heart of Cinderella, she would have said yes to the offer without batting an eyelid. Was there really no other motivation for Tremaine’s steps other than simply greed for fame and money?
Queen Of Hearts — Alice In Wonderland
Often confused with the Red Queen, also one of late author Lewis Carroll’s creations, Queen of Hearts is a character that first made appearance in the Alice in Wonderland books. She is all fury and rage and is famous for giving death sentences on the drop of a hat by using her now popular one-liner — “Off with her head!” While she has been portrayed by several women over the course of years, she was more recently brought alive on screen by the talented Helena Bonham Carter a decade ago in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010). Helena’s portrayal was said to be a mixture of the Queen of Hearts, the Red Queen and the Duchess. Eccentric as she is, it would be quite fascinating to see her in a stand-alone movie.
Jafar — Aladdin
Now here is a villain far more conventional in nature. Decidedly evil, lusts after the heroine Jasmine, captures, hoodwinks and plans the death of the hero Aladdin, manages to almost get away with it until he doesn’t. But what makes Jafar so compelling is his overwhelmingly powerful, magnetic personality.
Shere Khan — The Jungle Book
The chief of the tigers, Shere Khan is one of the most intriguing villains out there. The character suffers from what we call a ‘God complex,’ and despite being nicknamed ‘The Lame One,’ he sees himself as someone fit to rule the jungle. He is arrogant, ruthless and conniving in all the Rudyard Kipling adaptations of his book, The Jungle Book. So where does he derive his power from? Does he compensate for his insecurities by being so mean and awe-inspiring outwardly? Just a single film dealing with his side of the narrative would make for an enjoyable watch.
Captain Hook — Peter Pan
Okay, so there was a spin-off on the Peter Pan villain Captain Hook, where the late Robin Williams starred as Peter. The movie was directed by Steven Spielberg and even featured the likes of Dustin Hoffman and Julia Roberts. But those who have watched the film will think the 1991 film never even existed. Here’s why — It was not in the vein of the original story, neither were there any memorable performances as such despite the obviously stellar cast. Surely a reboot is needed here!
Gaston — Beauty And The Beast
You remember Gaston? Or Luke Evans playing one in the live-action version of the Disney classic? Even as a web series is being made on the complex, egotistical villain of the story, a movie on the character seems to make more sense. Gaston is interesting enough to star in a full-blown feature of his own, but making audience sit through a web series on the guy does seem a bit too much.
Scar — The Lion King
It is a wonder that we have still not seen a spin-off on this magnificent villain of the beloved Disney classic yet. Scar is a devious soul, who is always seemingly in a self-victimisation mode. After he loses the throne to his brother Mufasa, Scar plots to kill his sibling and take the crown away from the next in line, Simba, Mufasa’s son. First voiced by Jeremy Irons, Scar is said to be based on Hamlet’s King Claudius.
Mr Dark — Something Wicked This Way Comes
Adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel of the same name and presented on screen in a 1983 Disney movie, Mr Dark was portrayed enigmatically by the talented Jonathan Pryce. Mr Dark is devilish, but he is not the devil. He has a human body but superhuman powers. His charisma is unquestionable, but his background raises many eyebrows. He is said to have a religious upbringing according to the original source material, having read every word of the Bible. This alone suggests how much fun would it be to peel back Mr Dark’s layers a bit.
Yes, it has escaped no one’s notice that the Marvel Studios has decided to have a spin-off web series on one of the most charming villains in all of the MCU. A wise decision, but who said that we can’t have a movie and a web series too? If the Sex and the City Team can do both, surely Marvel can pull off the same with considerable ease. After all, Loki has enough meat to see us through the two hours traditional runtime of a film, and then some.
Thanos — MCU
The deviant who wiped out half of humanity at one point in time surely deserves a full movie of his own? A film where we can get a sense of how Thanos’ mind works, and a deeper understanding of his childhood and youthful days would help gain us more perspective on one of the scariest villains of the MCU.
Queen Narissa — Enchanted
There are not many live-action Disney films that are actually not live-action versions of the animated originals. Enchanted is an interesting mix of both animation and live-action. Princess Giselle finds herself on earth after being mistakenly transferred from her lovely, animated world. Here she meets Susan Sarandon’s Queen Narissa. Narissa, towards the climax of the movie, takes on a scary reptile’s role as she tries to kill off the heroine. While all that is impressive, her motivations and her background were not fully explained in the feature. Now is your chance, Disney.
The Sanderson Sisters — Hocus Pocus
With Hocus Pocus getting a sequel, it seems right to demand a Sandersons Sisters movie. The original Hocus Pocus film was made in a comedic flavour. But it would be interesting to turn the genre on its head and instead bring to life a more nuanced, intense and darker version of the movie, exclusively throwing light on the three main antagonists of the cult classic.
Killmonger — Black Panther
Black Panther’s main villain, Killmonger, does not really appear to be a villain once you understand his motivations and where he comes from. He is a knowledgeable, skilled person who thinks he is taking the right steps to protect the larger cause, his community and his people, misguided as they might be. It would be quite a journey to watch him grow up to be the person he does become on celluloid.
Here’s hoping Disney took some notes!