Alfred Hitchcock, the legendary film producer, has famously stated that the more effective the villain, the more successful the film. As it turns out, the cinematic genius was much more accurate than he could have imagined at the time. In today’s world, the more successful the villain, the more probable the figure will get a whole prequel film dedicated to his or her beginnings. Movies like 2014’s “Maleficent” and 2019’s “Joker” demonstrated that viewers will pay a lot of money for nice bad men, with the former grossing over $750 million worldwide and the latter grossing over $1 billion.
At the time of writing, Disney’s “Cruella,” the Emma Stone-led background for everyone’s favorite Dalmatian killer, has a 97 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. With such a positive response, you have to believe that the House of Mouse will continue to delve into its decades-spanning rogue’s gallery to revisit legendary villains, giving light on the circumstances that caused them to become the vile figures that fans love to detest today. There’s no shortage of legendary Disney villains to give the “Cruella” treatment to next, with a film catalog of over 60 animated blockbusters. Here are some of the more appealing alternatives.
1The Little Mermaid’s Ursula would be a spellbinder
Despite the fact that Emma Stone has only recently played Cruella de Vil, she already has an opinion on which iconic Disney villain should receive their own origin film next. In an interview with Variety, the Oscar-winning actress explained why Ursula, the nautical antagonist from 1989’s “The Little Mermaid,” needs to be represented on the big screen. “She’s an octopus and the world you would get to live in, like Ursula’s parents and what happened there … You’ve never really seen a non-human Disney villain be explored in that way.”
As it turns out, the dreaded sea witch will return to the big screen in the near future in the highly anticipated “Little Mermaid” live-action adaptation, which will be portrayed by none other than Melissa McCarthy. However, because that picture will probably center on Halle Bailey’s Ariel rather than Ursula’s history, it would be fascinating to learn more about what drove Ursula down the road of sea sorcery.
Yohann Antoine, a prominent illustrator and comic book artist, may be able to assist Disney in developing a narrative for an Ursula origin film. In fact, he has already constructed a lovely history for the character, believing that she was King Triton’s younger sister, whose insatiable desire for power finally turned her wicked. Could this be what Ursula meant when she said she lived in Triton’s palace?
2The saga of The Incredibles’ Syndrome
Pixar’s “The Incredibles” was a huge blockbuster for Disney in 2004, grossing over $600 million worldwide. Although the film featured a super-powered core cast of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Samuel L. Jackson as its iconic do-gooders, it wouldn’t have worked nearly as well without the shadowy Syndrome, voiced by longtime “My Name Is Earl” standout Jason Lee and pulling all of the villainous strings.
In the film’s opening sequences, spectators get a peek of Bob Parr’s, aka Mr. Incredible’s, golden crime-fighting heyday, featuring his constant run-ins with obsessed kid fanboy Buddy Pine, or Incrediboy as he referred to himself. Mr. Incredible formally breaks connections with Buddy after he unwittingly creates a near-disaster, unknowingly putting him onto a lifelong road of scorned revenge. Years later, when we meet Buddy again, he’s grown into a smart, full-grown man with a plan to finally vanquish his old hero. He has the resources to accomplish it, which is impressive.
This begs the question: what did Buddy do to get so wealthy? On his own private island, he has an evil volcano lair complete with missile-launching defenses, an army of minions, and a crazy monorail! Who exactly is he, Jeff Bezos? He’s definitely a tech genius, so perhaps he was a federal defense contractor, as Redditor u/shehryar46 speculates. Regardless, we’d watch a full film that delves into the lost years of Syndrome’s tale.
3Gaston: someone give this meathead a movie
No one is as slick or as quick as Gaston. No one deserves their own origin story more than Gaston! In all honesty, Gaston LeGume, the lady-loving, handsome hunter from Disney’s 1991 Oscar-winning animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” is probably the most terrifying villain of all time. He’s too macho, machinating, and just plain nasty. But, while “Beauty” does an excellent job of portraying Gaston as a scum-of-the-Earth bully, we still don’t know much about his childhood.
According to Deadline, Disney has already seen the possibility of a Gaston background, formally greenlighting a “Beauty and the Beast” prequel series that “would follow Gaston and LeFou as they set off with LeFou’s stepsister, Tilly, when a startling discovery from her past comes to light.” While witnessing how Gaston first met his long-time buffoonish bestie seems intriguing, there’s still a lot of uncharted territory in the past of the self-proclaimed “man among men.” Perhaps a feature-length film is the best vehicle for exploring it.
4Disney’s dynamic, devious, groovy duo
Is “The Emperor’s New Groove,” released in 2000, the most underappreciated Disney film to date? You could probably make a case that it is. Although it did not do well at the box office when it was first released, the humorous animated film has only gained in popularity over time, and with a voice cast lead by David Spade and John Goodman, it’s easy to understand why.
While Spade and Goodman are fantastic as Kuzco and Pacha, the film’s enduring effect is actually on the shoulders of the film’s awful twosome, Kuzco’s embittered former advisor, Yzma (Eartha Kitt), and her meathead henchman, Kronk (Patrick Warburton). Every scenario involving this wacky couple is rife with laugh-out-loud exchanges for both youngsters and adults. They were so endearing that Disney produced a direct-to-video spinoff named “Kronk’s New Groove” in 2005. But why should we stop there?
When it comes to fan-favorite Disney villains, Yzma and Kronk must be towards the top of the list. A film on the cunning duo’s origins would certainly be a great smash given the film’s cult audience. We’d like to know how the two met. Or how Yzma figured out how to make potions that convert humans into animals. Or how Kronk learnt to communicate with squirrels. It would be more suited for a Disney+ original, but if you asked us if we’d be interested in more Yzma and Kronk, we’d say, “squeak, squeakin’, squeak, squeakity!”
5Fans want to see more of the Shadow Man
There may not be a more enigmatic Disney villain than Dr. Facilier, the dark voodoo master from “The Princess and the Frog,” as portrayed by the uber-talented Keith David. The Shadow Man has grand plans to take over the city of New Orleans, and he comes dangerously near before being stopped by Tiana.
Facilier’s history is virtually a blank slate, save from a few throwaway lines about his forefathers being nobility, making his backstory one that Disney fans most desire to see on screen. Perhaps he was a street rat like Aladdin, except in New Orleans, or perhaps his mother taught him the arts of the witch doctor or anything along those lines. The options are limitless. We know he has buddies on the other side; we just don’t know how he acquired them!
6Hades got a bum rap in Hercules
Let’s face it: even people who regard themselves to be well-versed in Greek mythology are likely to accept at least a few myths that are untrue. A large part of the uncertainty can undoubtedly be attributed to Hollywood, which has distorted historical facts for years in order to better match movie plotlines. “Hercules” by Disney is especially guilty of this, with maybe no greater example than its depiction of Hades, who, despite being the film’s adversary, wasn’t that awful in genuine Greek mythology.
In Disney’s animated hero story, Hades is presented as a fiery, angry exile hell-bent on destroying Zeus’ dominion of Mount Olympus by releasing the Titans, wonderfully voiced by James Woods. This contradicts Greek mythology, in which Hades battled alongside his brothers Zeus and Poseidon against the Titans. In reality, Hades reigns over the Underworld because he and his brothers drew the shortest straw when dividing up the universe — not because he’s bad.
Because Hades is such a misunderstood mythical figure, he may be an excellent choice for his own spin-off prequel. Disney could simply re-hire Woods for the voice cast (if they choose the animated route), or they could try out a younger actor that sounds similar to him. There’s no shortage of possible plotlines given his illustrious background in Greek mythology. Perhaps they might depict the metamorphosis of youthful Hades into the sarcastic God of Death we know and love from “Hercules” by reimagining the iconic Persephone narrative.
7How about a Turbo-tastic origin for this Wreck-It Ralph villain?
In 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph,” building-crushing bad guy Ralph (John C. Reilly), tired of being the antagonist to Fix-It Felix, Jr. (Jack McBrayer) in their classic 8-bit arcade game, decides to go rogue and try to earn a medal in another game. When the other game programmers in Litwak’s Arcade found out about Ralph’s game desertion, they asked him if he was “going Turbo.” It appears that a prior fictitious arcade game character named Turbo famously quit his own racing game to join another more popular one, resulting in both games’ plugs being pulled.
While Turbo is finally revealed to be King Candy in disguise, the film doesn’t go into much depth on what occurred to the “turbo-tastic” racer between the de-plugging of RoadBlasters and his eventual arrival in Sugar Rush. Given the popularity of the first two “Wreck-It Ralph” films, one might argue that viewers enjoy the virtual world that the franchise has created and would like to see more of it. Perhaps an original Disney+ film (or series) examining what happened to Turbo before he got into Sugar Rush would be a rewarding second plunge into the arcade realm.
8Who is Jafar really?
While Robin Williams’ iconic Genie stole the show in 1992’s Oscar-winning animated masterpiece “Aladdin,” it’s difficult to find a better Disney villain than the film’s adversary, the evil sorcerer Jafar. Jafar sought for a strange magical lamp as the Sultan’s adviser, while intending to use it to seize control of Agrabah. He was everything a good villain should be: devious, arrogant, and downright scary!
Although Marwan Kenzari’s portrayal of Jafar in Guy Ritchie’s 2019 live-action adaptation failed to connect with most viewers, the character’s box business potential should not be underestimated. In all versions of “Aladdin,” Jafar is presented right away as the evil-doer we all know and love. We have no idea what happened in his past to cause him to be this way.
This offers a lot of room for interpretation if Disney wants to look into what transpired in Agrabah in the years preceding up to the events of “Aladdin.” How did Jafar rise through the ranks to become the Sultan’s right-hand man? How did he get his mysterious snake-headed staff, or how did he learn to use it to mesmerize people? Perhaps most fascinating is how he came to learn of the Genie’s lamp and the Cave of Wonders in the first place.
There are certainly enough intriguing issues in Jafar’s history to warrant a compelling feature picture, which, as it turns out, may be in the works after all. It could be a real diamond in the rough…
9Disney should explore this Up explorer’s background
The only thing most people remember about 2009’s “Up” is its tear-jerking initial ten minutes. In fact, the opening sequence is so powerful that you may have forgotten that the film’s major antagonist was a crazed former explorer with his own friggin platoon of talking dogs!
Charles F. Muntz, played by Oscar winner Christopher Plummer, was a famous adventurer who took his zeppelin on missions of exploration. After a trip to South America, he returns with the bones of a huge bird dubbed “The Monster of Paradise Falls” (which, as moviegoers will eventually learn, is the creature Russell names Kevin). Unfortunately for Muntz, the scientific world dismisses his results and accuses him of being a fake. Muntz and his technologically-collared dogs fly back to Paradise Falls, vowing to prove themselves, and spend the rest of their life mercilessly pursuing a living example of the bird.
So, what makes a Muntz film a must-see? For starters, it would likely contain Dug, the scene-stealing “goodest lad” who was one of the film’s brightest moments. More Dug is always a good idea! Also, throughout his unexpectedly heinous diatribe, Muntz alluded to the fact that he had previously slain two explorers. Needless to say, Disney fans would definitely enjoy learning more about the weird old kook’s history.
10How Tangled’s Gothel got her groove back
“Tangled” had it all: a perfectly-voiced heroine, an impossible-not-to-like leading guy, and a plot that dripped comedy while still tugging at the heartstrings. But we’d be negligent if we didn’t highlight the film’s heinous villain, Mother Gothel. Gothel guarded Rapunzel like a helicopter mom on steroids, concealing a secret plan to keep her “daughter” hidden from the public for years. We know she only did it because Rapunzel’s enchanted hair kept her forever young, but other than that, we don’t know much about the evil old crone.
For example, how did Gothel learn about the miraculous flower before uprooting it to aid Rapunzel? How did she find out about the mysterious tower concealed in the woods? Possibly most importantly, how old is she? All of these concerns might be addressed in a Mother Gothel origin film. Mother, after all, knows best.
11This Aristocats butler deserves some shine
If Disney could provide a sympathetic history to Cruella de Vil, a fashionista hell-bent on skinning Dalmatian puppies for costume material in “The Aristocats,” there’s no reason they couldn’t do the same for Edgar Balthazar, Madame Bonfamille’s lifelong butler. True Disney aficionados will know that the primary adversary in this early-Parisian cat story is Balthazar, although in retrospect, he wasn’t all that awful.
In a nutshell, Balthazar decides to kidnap his wealthy boss’s pets after learning that she intends to leave her whole fortune to, you guessed it, her cats. Let us be honest: Edgar’s scheme may not have been entirely moral, but it’s not as if he didn’t have a solid reason for it. He didn’t murder the cats, he only wanted to be the one to inherit Madame Bonfamille’s money and land. What would the cats have done with it in the first place?
An origin narrative of how Edgar first became the Bonfamille’s devoted butler might be an interesting watch with the appropriate casting. For good measure, consider his early encounters with a kitten version of Duchess, the feline matriarch in “The Aristocats.” Maybe this wasn’t Edgar’s first attempt to get rid of Duchess… now was the time to find out.
Sid Philips is a father of two and a loving husband. He currently resides in Pennsylvania and has been a fan of Disney since his parents took him there in 1980! Sid has visited multiple Disney parks around the world and loves each one!
TalkDisney.com is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. Some links may be affiliate links. We may get paid if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of these.