Hello and welcome to In Too Deep, where I over-analyse a certain section of pop culture.
A good way of judging a villain’s worth is by how successful their plan is. Sure they ultimately fail because it’s a Disney film, but which villains came the closest to succeeding? Well, using only the 53 animated features, lets find out. And of course, spoilers for these films.
The Goal: Become the ruler of a kingdom, specifically Arendelle.
The Plan: First it was to marry Elsa but switches to Anna when he realises that Elsa would never marry him. Then kill off both sisters and take the throne for himself.
The Setbacks: Honestly a majority of the time the problems he encounters he quickly uses in his favour. Elsa has an emotional breakdown? Manipulate her into becoming such a threat she can’t be ruler, meaning he becomes it in her place. Anna is freezing to death? Leave her to die while pretending that she agreed to be his wife so he can rule the kingdom. In fact he uses Anna’s ‘death’ as a way of getting Elsa to drop her sword and letting herself almost be killed.
The Final Problem: He never predicted that an animated snowman would stumble across Anna. I mean no one was planning to go find her since they’d be told she died (and had bigger problems at the moment), so he couldn’t predict someone stumbling across her. Nor could he predict Anna would end up in the right place at the right time to stop him from killing Elsa. So it’s only bad luck that he fails.
How Good Are They?: If things had played out slightly differently he’d be ruling the Kingdom right now. But the greatest strength is fooling the audience into believing he’s a good guy, showing just how good he really it.
The Goal: Shoot a deer for the fun of hunting.
The Plan: Find a deer and shoot it.
The Setbacks: Accidentally setting the forest on fire due to leaving his camp fire unattended.
The Final Problem: You could argue that he dies in the forest (and it was gonna be shown in the film but cut for being too dark), but ultimately nothing ever goes wrong.
How Good Are They?: He’s a hunter who shoots Bambi’s mother. It’s the biggest and arguably the most famous thing in the film. He succeeds with his plan… but since his plan is somewhat innocent we’ll put him lower on the list.
4)Long John Silver (Treasure Planet)
The Goal: Go to Treasure Planet and get all the treasure.
The Plan: Manipulate the crew, cause a mutiny when they get they, then take the treasure and run for the border.
The Setbacks: Again, bad luck means this character suffers setbacks, but the biggest is simply Jim Hawkins wising up too quickly. Had Jim not found out what was going on, chances are they’d have gotten away scot-free.
The Final Problem: Ignoring the fact that the treasure got lost when the planet exploded, the biggest problem that stops him is ultimately the nicest: He befriends Jim Hawkins too much. Had he kept his distance he’d have probably got away just fine. But then again it’s Jim that saves him, so maybe it’s for the best.
How Good Are They?: Well he ends up with some jewels he could no doubt retire on and gets away with his crimes without any punishment. So yes, he fulfils his goals to some extent. The only reason he’s not higher is because that’s how the book ends as well.
3)Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
The Goal: To kill Aurora.
The Plan: Cast a curse on her that will kill her if she pricks her finger on a spinning-wheel.
The Setbacks: Well one of the fairies modifies the spell, and her minions are mostly useless at doing their jobs, but on the whole she actually goes through with it. Not only does she managed to have Aurora prick her finger she manages to lock up the Prince as well. As much as I rag on her her plan was a 100% success.
The Final Problem: Honestly it’s just foolishness of her part that she didn’t get rid of the fairies, since they’re her ultimate undoing. If she’d somehow killed them off she’d be all good.
How Good Are They?: Maleficent’s plan essentially goes off without a hitch. Aurora is near dead, with only true love being able to wake her up. She has the Prince, so there’s no worry there. Ultimately her initial plan works flawlessly… it’s just what comes after that plan that causes disaster. But since her plan technically succeeds I have to give credit where it’s due.
2)King Candy (Wreck-It Ralph)
The Goal: Stay the most popular racer in the arcade.
The Plan: Usurp the throne from the real ruler of the game by breaking the code, then spend the time rigging the races so not to lose.
The Setbacks: Ralph appears and… Actually, that’s the only setback he has in the story. If Ralph never appeared, he’d have gotten away with his plan without anyone being wiser. Hell unlike the other villains on this list Ralph isn’t trying to stop him at first. Ralph just wants to get a medal and go home. It’s only due to random chance that Ralph actually ends up becoming involved in a plot to topple him.
The Final Problem: Getting turned into a virus just made him stronger as far as he was concerned. Hell he only gets defeated because he doesn’t kill Ralph when he has the chance, and that’s less to do with suicidal overconfidence and more that he doesn’t know what Ralph’s planning. Had he known he’d have probably killed Ralph on the spot.
How Good Are They?: King Candy will always be my favourite Disney villain for a simple reason: He manipulates Ralph into doing what he wants while framing it to appear that it’s the only thing to do. Even when Ralph appears unexpectedly King Candy does everything he can to keep the power. In fact it really is dumb luck that Ralph happens to learn that Vanellope is on the side of the arcade machine. At the end of the day he’s such a great villain who gets away with his plan for so long, only to be foiled by just bad luck.
1)The Coachman (Pinocchio)
The Goal: Make money.
The Plan: Lure kids to an island of temptation and, when they’ve fallen into enough sin, turn them into donkeys and sell them off.
The Setbacks: Well Pinocchio escapes and… No, that’s it. The only thing that goes wrong with this guy’s plan is that Pinocchio escapes. Pinocchio never seemingly tells anyone about it, we get no resolution about whether this bad guy was caught. He’s still at it even now.
The Final Problem: He just isn’t defeated. There is no final problem. Like the Devil he exists to manipulate wayward souls and always will. Simple as that.
How Good Are They?: The Coachman is perhaps the only Disney villain to never be punished in any form of media, except for the video game 56 years later. He also actively enjoys punishing kids and making them suffer. Make of that what you will.
So there you have it. My pick of the most successful Disney villains. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.