The Problem with Secret Villains in Disney

Having watched a plethora of Disney films this past month for “Really? That’s your Plan?” (and I cannot WAIT for it to be over. These Disney sequels are killing me.) I’ve come across a trend within the recent Disney films that starts with Wreck-It Ralph and continues all the way through Moana.

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Every single film has a secret villain twist. Here’s just a very quick rundown:

King Candy is actually the evil Turbo who game jumped and has taken over the game Sugar Rush. What a twist!

The kind Prince Hans and Anna’s new fiancé actually wants to rule Arendelle by killing Anna and Elsa. What a twist!

Yokai was not Alistair Krei but actually Professor Robert Callaghan, seeking revenge on Krei! What a…twist…

The real mastermind behind the savages was actually Bellwether the sheep. What…an odd twist…

The lava monster was actually Te Fiti, the goddess of life. What…a…twist…

Déjà vu

Twists in films and television are not a new concept. It’s been done for decades. Individually, these are pretty decent twists. Some of which rather unexpected while others are very clever. However, the problem lies in the repetitiveness.

It’s like eating the same meal over and over again in succession. The first couple of times are great, but after awhile it eventually becomes too familiar of a flavor. You get used to the flavor so much you become bored with it as you crave something different.

Because the past five films have twist after twist, it creates the expectation that there will be a twist in the next film, making the twist not as potent as it could be.

A Lack of Character

You know who’s a great Disney villain? Maleficent

She has a great design, excellent personality, and the rather unique motivation of doing her deeds because she wasn’t invited to a christening.

Now let’s go back to…let’s pick Hans.

I’m pretty sure one could make the argument that Frozen is a better film then Sleeping Beauty. But if we’re talking about the better villain, Maleficent takes the cake. Why? Well…she has more villainous screen time. The entire film perceives her as a villain which means we get to have more fun with her evil antics.

Hans like other Disney villains showcase their true colors in the final act, meaning we don’t get to see them develop like other villains. All of the character growth and development they had prior to their reveal gets chucked out the window as their personality solely becomes “I was a villain the whole time and now I’m just evil.”

Forgettable

Which leads to the biggest problem. Due to the use of secret villains becoming a cliché and lacking character, we end up with a very forgettable villain. People will always remember villains like Maleficent, Ursula, and Jafar because audiences enjoyed watching them be evil. King Candy, Hans, Bellwether and Yokai will never be remembered as great Disney villains because they never received enough time dedicated to their true characters.

Should we have Secret Villains?

Well…when they’re done right, then yes. In the case of some of these villains, there theme is more important then the character itself.

Hans represents how you can’t be so quick to trust someone you just met.

Bellwether represents how evil can come in all shapes and sizes.

Te Fiti represents how fragile nature is and the consequences of neglecting it.

We shouldn’t stop having secret villains. Disney just needs to switch it up every once in while so they can subvert audience expectations. Hopefully the next film will give us a villain like one of the classics or else their next twist will be seen miles away.

 

But hey, what do I know? I’m just some guy on the Internet.

 

So, what do you all think? Do you enjoy secret villains in Disney? Would you prefer villains more like the classics? Leave a comment below, and let’s get this conversation rolling. Until next time, this is Xander, signing off.