What Happened to Great Disney Villains?

Disney villains these days don’t have the same evil presence as the classic ones. Why is that? Nostalgia Critic takes a look.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

136 comments

  1. thatgirlinthewheelchair

    Holy hell for the first time in my life I’m, well, first.

    • Well, if Disney still wants the heel-turn, they could always just try the opposite of what they’ve done. A person could start as a villain and turn out to not be one.
      Like a little boy bullies a little girl, but only because he likes her sort of thing.

      • Crap. Didn’t mean to make this a reply and don’t know how to fix.

      • Oh no, not that trope. People already pull that crap to justify boys being abusive towards girls. We don’t need movies justifying it. How about he’s a bully but changes because he realizes being evil is stupid?

        • Honestly, I’ve seen more cases of girl characters abusing boy characters because they’re secretly crushing on them than the reverse, but, yeah, I agree. That trope stinks. However, I like the idea of a bully character deciding not to be mean anymore and changing his/her ways half way through the story. Now that’s outside the box thinking.

        • I think Olddog just means that a villain can seem evil but turns out they did it with the best of intentions, not exactly the “boy likes girl” thing. So, for example, if it turned out in Tangled that Mother Gothel wasn’t a witch emotionally abusing Rapunzel but was actually keeping her locked away as a misguided means of protecting her

          POTENTIAL MOANA SPOILER
          Plus, you can sort of argue that they did the heel-turn in Moana

  2. Considering the likes of Xehanort, Toffee, and Bill Cipher; I’m gonna just guess they’re not in the movies anymore.

    • Bill is terrifying, and I say that as a grown ass man.

    • True, video games and TV shows seem to allow free range. Don’t forget Lord Dominator, Ludo and Gideon, or even more harmless comedic villains like Lord Hater, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, and Cedric the Sorcerer.

    • Bill’s a great example of a heel-turn villain in my opinion. We may have known he’s evil since the beginning of Gravity Falls, but he seemed more like the “cartoony” type of evil, that villain who shakes their fist at the screen as they curse their plans being foiled by the flawless hero. Yet as the show progresses, more and more of Bill’s true colors are revealed and by the finale, he’s seen as a genuine threat. Sure, he still has his morbid sense of humor and glee for all things chaotic, but he’s a lot more violent and sadistic than the viewers (or at least me) initially assumed him to be. We go from “It’s funny how dumb you are” to “I’ve got some children I need to make into corpses” and “I think I’ll kill one of them just for the heck of it.” Definitely speaks for how great a writer Alex Hirsch and the rest of the Gravity Falls team are.

    • thatchickwithlonghair

      POINTS FOR TOFFEE. XD That guy is great.

    • There’s also good live action villains like Loki,Ultron Kylo Ren or Barbossa but yeah I don’t think any of them can compete with bill.

    • Excuse you but where is LORD HATER, THE GREATEST IN THE GALAXY!!!!!

  3. The horned King is awesome! Also, Bellwether split society in two. She was awesome as well. And Doctor Facilier, he’s amazing!

    • Everyone loves Loki.

    • RIP John Hurt (The Horned King’s voice)

    • I freaking love Dr. Facilier. He definitely has one of the best Disney Villain songs ever 😀

      • Nerwen Aldarion

        I have disagree, not about his song which was okay but a good song doesn’t equal a good villain.

        My problem with Dr. Facilier is his motives and his connections with the heroes. Mostly because he has none. He’s going after the rich blond girls father’s money, it really has nothing to do with Tiana and Naveen. He was literally just there as an excuse to turn Naveen into a frog, after that he really has nothing to do with them. Even more so his motive is pretty bland…greed. It’s not original or even interesting.

        Compare that to other villains. Ursula wants what she believes is rightfully hers (control over the sea that Triton took from her), meanwhile she has a connection with Ariel (revenge for her father) while also still playing an active role in preventing her from her happy ending.

        Or with amore recent villain like Mother Gothel who literally raised Rapunzel and therefore has one of the best connections to our heroes. And she’s constantly trying to find her while also toying with her mind, making her be afraid of the outside world. And her motives make sense, she wants to keep up her youth, as she has for centuries and she has to have Rapunzel in order to do so. Then there is the added question over whether or not she truly cared for her. It’s complex and interesting.

        THat’s why The Princess and the Frog was a huge disappointment to me, I feel like it didn’t have the effort to make things more interesting.

        But hey, as Doug would say, it’s my opinion and it really doesn’t matter

        • Steve the Pocket

          I’d say Dr. Facilier’s backstory, that he needs the money specifically because he got his powers by making a literal deal with the Devil—or at least, demons of some kind—and has been struggling to pay it back, is interesting in its own way. If for no other reason than, holy shit, Disney actually went there.

  4. Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear does give me chills.

  5. I actually found the bear from Toy Story 3 to be more of a villain than he was pretending to be nice. He is shown to be evil for the majority of his time on screen. Or at least in my opinion and from what I can remember (haven’t seen the film in a while).

    • You are absolutely correct. He only pretended to be nice in one lengthy scene, and part of another which ended with him dropping the facade. For the most part, Lotso was straight-up evil.

    • I think you’re 100% correct, Lotso was a great villain. However, I think Doug’s argument is that modern villains are nowhere near as memorable as the iconic ones of the past, not that their acts aren’t villainous enough. So, people remember just about every aspect of Jafar, Ursula, Maleficent, etc, but Lotso (Arguably one of the more memorable modern villains he used as an example) and the others don’t hold up by comparison.

  6. I wonder if Doug recently watched this.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PifXfBfhSBc&t=496s

    From what I gathered from both videos, while it’s certainly commendable for wanting to see more humanity in their villains, from time to time it’s still always fun to have antagonists who are bad for badness sakes.

    So allow me to present a middle ground for a future villain.

    For a future Disney film, let’s have an antagonist who has almost as much screen time as the hero, make him/her just as devious and charismatic as the old school villains, but give that character some back story to why that character fell from grace and came to doing the wrong things for what they believe is right, a character who is just as malicious and vengeful as Maleficent or Jafar, but still tragic and empathetic and just as moral or human as the protagonist; and there being a plausibility for redemption or not.

  7. You thought Silver from Treasure Planet was complex? That took me off guard since you never commented on his character when you did the Disneycember on the movie.

  8. Frankly, it was rather painful to see you talk about a lot of Pixar films in a video that was supposed to be about Disney films. We all know Disney owns Pixar, but Walt Disney Animated Studios and Pixar are still two distinctly separate studios. Hell, many of the Pixar films you used as examples weren’t even made when Disney owned Pixar, they just distributed their films!
    Also, even you’ve talked about Disney and Pixar as being two distinctly separate studios, such as how Pixar made studios besides Disney brave enough to release G-rated films again.

    • Not really, Since Lasseter took over they’ve mixed and matched the talent quite a bit. They have the same head guy and most of the same story people, and all the same tech involved in both studios now, and both studios sit in on the “watch the early reel and suggest story idea” sessions.

      They’re still separate but they’re really heavily entwined now. The only real difference at this point is Disney films still have song numbers…. sometimes.

  9. Sikes occupies a complicated middle ground. If he was an original villain I’d agree that he wasn’t that great. However since he’s the Disney version of a great villain, namely Bill Sikes from Oliver Twist, that complicates the issue a bit.

  10. Should be What Happened to Movie Villains in General.

  11. Persoanlly, I thought that Turbo/King Candy was one of the more classic style villains but initially with a hint of modern subtlety which is why I still think that he’s the best modern DIsney villain he’s simultaneously terrifying yet human, however for the best Pixar villain I think Syndrome takes the cake, even above that of Turbo in my book, being that they make you feel for him, and they also make the danger real, they make you despise him because this guy is so dastardly that he captures infants, infants, man! Anyways, for the most part I do agree with you Doug, most of the modern Disney/Disney Pixar villains are forgetable however there are a few diamonds in that coal pile.

  12. Disney-Trivia-Fanatic

    Okay there is another great villain that he forgot to mention that person being Yzma from “The Emperor’s New Groove”. She is funny, tries to be threatening, has a great voice (rest in peace Eartha Kitt), and overall fun to watch! Especially when she is with Kronk!

    • The henchmen are the best part of any villain! I always love seeing them interact with each other, whether it’s Hook and Smee, Jafar and Iago, Yzma and Kronk, or Prince John and Sir Hiss!

  13. Animated Disney shows follow a similar format. They set up someone who seems to be the main villain (like Gideon from “Gravity Falls” or Ludo from “Star Vs. The Forces Of Evil”) but then introduce a guy who’s much more evil (Bill Cipher or Toffee). I guess they can’t do this with movies. Sorry, I’ve just been getting into SVTFOE a lot lately. I liked the Shadow Man! I thought you said he was one of your favorites!

    • Lord Hater and Lord Dominator also followed that format.

      Gideon was at least a legit threat, unlike Ludo and Hater (although Ludo ironically ended up becoming a legit threat following Toffee’s introduction, but still not in Toffee’s league.)

  14. *No Spoilers”*

    Doug. Please, please play Castlevania Lords of Shadow 1 on PS3.

    You will frikking love it especially related to this video!

    Would love to hear your thoughts.

  15. I think the fact that even the Marvel villains are also generic and boring says a lot more about what Disney is actually nowadays, and I don’t think it is to catch up with the times. Come on they shoehorned a villain to Civil War… It is to be as non-threatening and forgettable as possible so that we don’t get too attached about this guys when they die by the end of the movie…

    But I truly think this is not the right approach, and in Batman: The Animated Series lies the answer.
    Every villain has its shot and wheter they are cunning (R’as Al Ghul or some of the Riddler episodes) silly (Maxie Zeus and yeah, The Condiment King, nuff said), sad (Mr Freeze or Two Face’s origins but Poison Ivy and even The Penguim had some very interesting episodes) or pretty much just plain evil,
    It is not about the villain but the story, the tone of what they were going for – The Penguin on a story about prejudice is a very sad and tought provoking story as well the same Penguin is on a very silly story about Batman’s mechanic…

  16. “I remember when Disney villains were cool.” says all fans from the 90s lol. Seriously though Disney needs to get back on track with their villains and they will.

  17. Makes me think back on one of the reasons why I love Kingdom Hearts. It contains the most memorable Disney villains (including Maleficent and Hades) and also dealing with in-depth villains/antagonists like the members of Organization 13. This is reacting to both past and modern villains nowadays and Kingdom hearts had both.

    What bugs me about villain standalone films like Maleficent is I believe it takes away the memorable villainous nature Maleficent was. They did the same with Randal in Monster University and the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass. The last thing I want is a “back story” on why Jafar became a vizier to become sultan because HE TOO was a street rat or some bull crap like that LOL

  18. I thought I dreamed that this video happened because I was kind of half asleep when I saw the promo for it earlier on the Facebook page. But, I have to agree that the villains of Disney now aren’t as memorable as Disney past. I remember Maleficent and Ursula a lot more than King Candy or Stinky Pete. Part of it might also be the voice acting. Not that King Candy and Stinky Pete had bad actors voicing them, but the words, inflections, and ways of saying the lines should be a good or memorable match to the characters. However, you could just hear the villain in the voice with the past ones, like how Gaston’s voice is bombastic and arrogant enough to break glass.

  19. Funny you mention how Sykes and The Horned King won’t make anyone’s Top 10s. Because, they made mine. (https://vid.me/staY)

    Note: I don’t usually spam my videos in other people’s videos, but I felt like that particular statement had to be corrected.

  20. Can you talk about the MTV series Good Vibes and Daria?

    On a side note, I mention this all before, why do you review a classic horror like this one I’ve finally found after all these years after just seeing a few scenes of it and never knowing how it ended. It’s called Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama. You might like it. Maybe.

    Also what do think of these TV series shows called:
    John Doe
    Forever Knight
    The Misfits (British Show)
    Misfits of Science (Movie and series)
    and The Zeta Project
    (I think some of these shows are like Sonic the Hedgehog a.k.a. Sonic Sat a.m. They all have incomplete ending.)

    P.S. Is there anyway you can review the Japanese versions of Ironman, Wolverine, X-men and Blade? I’d also really like to hear what you think about the FX series Archer and Chozen.

    P.S.S. And I never found out if you were going talk more about the Disney Afternoon shows Gummi Bears, Chip N Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Talespin(even the hour uncut movie special I found about it) and Darkwing Duck. Also you never answer my question, If you hate the Goof Troop song: “Gotta Be Gettin’ Goofy” then does that mean you hate The Darkwing Duck Rap?

  21. Hey, Sykes is pretty neat vilian, it’s just the movie he’s in sucks.

    Also, someone brought up Yzma. And yes, her duo with Kronk is superb. But I guess, it only means that straight up vilian can be done only in a comedic way now.

  22. Yes maybe the classic charismatic villain will come back….right about when they start doing 2D films again, Oh wait…

  23. Surprise villains? Sure, sometimes. But I spotted the villains in Zootopia and Big Hero 6 the second they first stepped on screen. Didn’t surprise me one bit!

    • You must have a better eye than me if you spotted Professor Callahan. I mean, there was his slight moment of anger at Krei, but I initial thought that was to establish Krei’s character instead of hinting at Callahan’s motives.

  24. I think Doug does have a fair point. Maybe a tad harsh on the newer villains past the 90s, but a fair point.

    I guess I would just have more interesting leads than villains, but yeah some good villains would be nice.

    I also felt like he missed the point of some of them, but the video was good

  25. Yeah, I wish more people liked Treasure Planet. I love that movie. Still, interesting video like usual. Also, the more people talk about the Frozen twist, the more I realize I hate the twist.

    • I don’t, though I did at first. But rewatching it a few times, you see the subtle moments of Hans’s true intentions.

      1. He is the youngest of many sons, highly unlikely to rule the Summer Isles.
      2. He explicitly says in song, “I’ve been searching my whole life to find my own place.” Not meaning, “I want to find a place to belong,” but, “I want to find a place I can control.”
      3. He just so happens to bump into Anna and changed his plan as soon as she falls in love with him after one day.
      4. He called for volunteers to find Elsa, but were it not for Duke Westleton’s goons, he would have killed her to make it look like her powers went crazy.

  26. I generally agree with the sentiment that Disney villains aren’t what they used to be, but Lots-o from Toy Story 3 was damn good.

  27. Hmmm… I feel like a few things should be pointed out here and there…
    – Back in Disneycember 2 (Pixar), Doug said that he liked Toy Story for its character focus, but kinda hated A Bug’s Life because it was too cliched. He felt that the story was too “predictable”, including the fact that there’s a clear villain, Hopper the grasshopper. Strangely enough, Hopper follows pretty much the same template as classic Disney villains 😛

    – A movie’s story also has to be good to order to flesh a good villain… which is why movies like Pocahontas, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Cars 1 & 2, Brave and The Good Dinosaur don’t have good villains, because the story doesn’t support them. Ratcliff is just greedy, no one was bad against Kenai and Koda, Alameda Slim’s a joke, Chick Hicks was never focused on, Axlerod was poorly scripted, Mor’du was never presented properly and the pterodactyls were just bullies.

    – Wreck-it Ralph kinda played its cards right, because Ralph learned the truth about King Candy before learning its real identity, which was more impactful, not to mention that the movie… essentially focused on a video game bad guy 😉

    – The idea of suprising us with the real villain… never failed so far, has it? Professor Robert Callaghan in Big Hero 6? He was a masked villain, so good luck even identifying him from the start like in a Scooby-Doo episode 😛 . Dawn Bellwether in Zootopia? Never guessed it, and for a police story, it totally worked, not to mention that she has henchmen… or henchsheeps to chase down Judy and Nick, as she stands behind. Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear in Toy Story 3? Dude, the guy’s a pink teddy bear, his very image doesn’t scream villainy. In cinema, edgy lines and dark colors identify a villain… except for him and Gru from Despicable Me, the latter being a good guy with villainous traits.

    – Disney has been targetting its movies for both adults and kids now, so they have to use clever twists and plots to satisfy both categories.

    Overall, great analysis there Doug ^_^

  28. I think Dr. Facilier (AKA Shadowman) is every bit as awesome as cartoon Malifect, while Gaston is a lousy villain. And frankly, I want the story of the grand struggle, not “here’s a bunch of crap that happened when this bratty kid moved to San Francisco, and BTW the show Herman’s Head did this better.”

    I think getting away from the grand villains is why so many Disney movies are so lame. Especially many of the Pixar ones like Brave.

  29. I disagree on the point that villains should be more complex. some should but it is unfortunately ignoring reality to say that EVERYONE had good in them, there are people in real life who are pure evil, Complete Monsters, as TV Tropes calls them. does anyone really believe Hitler had humanity in him?

    or the first recorded serial killer in the United States, H.H. Homes who literally said “I was born with the devil inside me”. or Jane Topan who was the inspiration for the Bad Seed’s idea of being born evil and said her life’s ambition was to murder as many innocent people as possible.

    How to Train Your Dragon 2 did a great job showing some people are just rotten to the core and the one and only way to deal with them is with violence. part of me thinks they should have killed Drago because if he has literally no personality outside of being evil, what worth is his life?

    • Real life and fiction are two different things, bro. Try to understand the difference.

      Honestly, I don’t know what this “Evil people need to be killed” trip you’ve been on lately is all about, but it’s mildly disturbing, to say the least.

    • Also, I could point out the flawed logic in your arguments regarding the likes of Hitler, but it would be irrelevant to the video’s topic, so I won’t. I’ll just say that your view is short sighted and leave it at that.

      • Devil's Advocate

        it’s somewhat on topic as making villains more human was one of the points Doug/Critic brought up. so, how can you argue my point when I quoted a real life serial killer who said “I was born with the devil inside me”.

        • The Real Silverstar

          I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: seek professional help, D.A. You desperately need it. The more of your comments I read, the more I think, “It’s only a matter of time before this kid snaps and does something that makes headline news”.

          • The Real Silverstar

            Take my advice, stop taking these cartoons so darn seriously and lighten the F up. You’ll thank me later.

        • Well, since you asked I’ll tell you. You’re argument is flawed for a couple of reasons:

          1. Quoting a real life serial killer is completely irrelevant for a discussion about FICTIONAL villains. Like I said before, REAL LIFE and FICTION are two different things.

          2. Since you insist on blurring the line between fantasy and reality, I must also point out that yours is a very narrow minded view of the world. In your eyes, a person is either Mother Theresa or Satan, with absolutely nothing in the middle. That’s how a child views the world. In reality, everything isn’t always back and white; there many shades of gray, which is what makes characters more interesting and layered.

          3. Hitler was a bastard who was responsible for the deaths of millions. No one’s arguing that. However, Hitler didn’t believe that he was being evil! He thought that he was purifying the world. In his sick mind, he was doing good. It’s also necessary to point out that Hitler would never have gotten as far as he did if there weren’t others who shared his insane vision and followed his orders. Like I said before, everything isn’t so clear cut. And reality is a separate animal from fiction.

          This is precisely why I prefer comedy to drama. If you spend too much time in the dark, it begins to mess with your mind. I decided a long time ago that I’d rather laugh and look at the lighter side of life than to dwell on the negatives 24/7, which is what you seem to do. A sense of humor is a universally recognized indicator of intelligence, which probably explains why people like yourself don’t understand or appreciate it’s merits.

          • Devil's Advocate

            again, Doug brought up the point of humanizing villains to reflect reality.

            and I know there is gray and not everything is black and white. but some people are pure evil, just because not all of them are doesn’t mean none are.

          • Devil's Advocate

            and I did bring up a fictional example of a monstrous fictional villain that still reflects reality.

          • Devil's Advocate

            also, I do actually sympathize a little bit with Jeffery Dalmer because he regretted his actions, it’s other serial killers who are not remorseful that I denounce as human beings.

    • Hitler had wife and kids, and also loved dogs.

  30. What the fuck? Their latest one is a being of pure rage, power and flame.

    • Sure, its a cool concept, but said villain had no actual personality, dialogue, or screen presence. It was just a large monster they had to sail past to get to the maguffin. That would have just been *a* obstacle in another movie.

      • Agree. The other “villain” was a sparklely crab with an ok song. His bio-luminescent transformation was cool, but he was in and out of the picture too quickly and not very threating.

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