Thursday, October 14, 2010

Disney's Most Underrated Villains

Every year I come across a list somewhere about the great movie villains ranking Hannibal Lecter, the Joker, and Nurse Ratchet according to their heinousness. Personally villains fascinate me, but rather than writing a list that would just repeat was has already been said by other, more educated individuals, I am composing a list of a different kind-- underrated Disney villains. When you ask anyone well versed in Disney animated classics about their favorite villains, Ursulla, Captain Hook, and Scar are usually at the top of the list alongside Mallificent, Cruella deVille, and the Evil Queen from Snow White. While these are certainly fair choices, I find it shocking that the following worthy villains are so often overlooked or forgotten:

Rattigan of The Great Mouse Detective—The fact that Rattigan was voiced by Vincent Price should be enough to put him in anyone’s top five villains, but he also feeds incompetent subjects to a cat, employs the services of a crippled bat, sings of drowning widows and orphans, and kidnaps a toymaker to create a machine in the likeness of the Queen of England. 

Shere Khan of The Jungle Book- Granted, Shere Khan did not feature prominently in The Jungle Book, but he certainly made his brief appearances memorable. His smooth as silk voice, appropriately cat-like grace, and English gentleman’s charm make Shere Khan an excellent character. His hate of mankind, and devious sportsmanship make him a remarkable villain who commands respect. 

Hades of Hercules- Even if you could forget that he is the lord of the underworld, he tried to assassinate an infant Hercules, rounds up all the titans in a coup against Zeus and holds Meg’s soul ransom. And yet, Hades comes off as a pretty relaxed guy who has taken anger management, and only loses his temper for a few seconds before regaining his composure and continuing his quest for cosmos domination with a dry sense of humor and a touch of Yiddish. 

Shan-Yu of Mulan- Shan-Yu the Hunn is evil incarnate. He invades China, survives a massive avalanche, and violates the rules of not shooting the messengers. He is an absolute beast with no sense of mercy, even when dealing with innocent children. Although handled somewhat delicately, more mature audiences will not easily forget the line “A girl will be missing her doll,” and the implied massacre that follows. 

McLeach of The Rescuers Down Under- Brilliantly voiced by George C. Scott, McLeach is the evil poacher that kidnaps animals and slays endangered species. When the kid hero Cody foils McLeach’s plans to find and kill the great Golden Eagle, he hangs the kid over a crocodile pit and slowly lowers him down towards the snapping jaws of death. 

  The Queen of Hearts of Alice in Wonderland- “Off with their heads!” Enough said.

Judge Claude Frollo of The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Quite possibly the only animated character in Disney movie history to be portrayed indulging his obsessive lust. His unjustified hate of gypsies and consistent torture of Quasimodo are but a foretaste to his sentencing Esmerelda to death by burning at the stake as punishment for rejecting his lurid advances. 

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