A Look at Disney: Villains Profile: The Baroness
Massive spoilers for Cruella. This week’s entry in our look at Villain Movie Villains continues the trend of evil parents as there is a late twist that reveals The Baroness is Cruella’s biological mother. Now unlike with Phillip’s mother, Cruella’s mother had been depicted numerous times before including in the 90’s animated series, an episode of Once Upon A Time, and a book from Serena Valentino’s Villains series.
The aforementioned book is perhaps the closest in similarity to this movie as both present Cruella’s mother as an awful person although it’s more of an abusive mother/child relationship with Cruella longing for her love and approval and rarely ever gets it. The OUAT episode seems as though it is going to be that way at first but in reality is more akin to something like The Bad Seed.
As that episode makes it clear that Cruella has always been evil. That’s not so much the case with Stone’s Cruella but man is she fun.
Bringing The Baroness to life is acclaimed actor, Emma Thompson and she is so good in this role. You can just feel that she’s having a blast in this role. Now interestingly, Thompson had taken a lot of Disney roles before this including Mrs. Potts in the Beauty and the Beast remake, P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks, and millennials might remember her as Captain Amelia in Treasure Planet.
So, that’s neat and this is probably one of my favorite roles of Thompson’s from a Disney movie.
She’s vain and wants the attention to always remain on her 24/7 and also a bit of a psychopath. She easily brushes people aside if they don’t serve her whims. For example, Roger is her lawyer in this film and when Roger says that they don’t have a legal case for suing Cruella. she fires him because she doesn’t like told no. Also when Cruella accuses The Baroness of killing her mother, it can be best summed up with that Batman Beyond meme.
So, she’s killed a lot of people before and has always made it look like they tripped over the ledge of a cliff at her mansion.
The first appearance of The Baroness was memed quite a bit when this movie was released earlier this year. As the first time, we see The Baroness is when who we believe to be Cruella’s mother goes to The Baroness as she needs some money but instead The Baroness ends up killing her.
I remember people sharing this moment on places like Twitter and just pointing out the absurdity of it all but here’s the thing, the movie would agree with you. It is absurd and over the top and that is how it’s presented in the movie as well. It honestly works in that regard and yeah, it’s silly but it also serves an important purpose as it serves as the drive for Cruella to become Cruella. And okay it’s dumb that dalmatians kill Cruella’s mom but the movie doesn’t use that to justify Cruella hating dalmatians. It’s just a dumb reference to the source material.
I kinda spelled it out already but she loves attention and wants to take Cruella down any way possible for taking the spotlight away from her. She at one point goes so far as to follow Cruella to where Cruella lives and ties her up as she attempts to burn down the building.
This shows how far she is willing to go so that no one but her can have the attention she craves. It’s insane how far, she is willing to go to keep the spotlight on her.
It almost feels a little wrong to place John under this category but he does serve The Baroness for quite some time until he reveals to Cruella the truth of her relationship to The Baroness and helps in taking her down.
Most Evil Deed
At first, I thought it’d be how she killed Catherine, the woman that raised Cruella because much like what Stefan did to Maleficent that set the events of the film in motion but I’d have to go with the fact that she tells John to get rid of Baby Cruella as in murder it and lies to her husband about having a miscarriage. This once again goes back into how she cannot share the attention with anyone else, not even a newborn infant.
Her demise is a full-circle moment of it takes place at where she killed Catherine with Cruella there but Cruella’s team, including Horace, Jasper, John, and the dashing Artie (the best character in the movie FYI) all plant seeds at a party being thrown by The Baroness that she wishes to see her guests outside and this is just in time for them to see The Baroness push Cruella over the edge making it appear as though she killed Cruella. And this leads to The Baroness being arrested.
This in turn allows Cruella to inherit all of the wealth from her father that The Baroness had withheld from her and oh also gives us Hell Hall. I like the movie but it is just an example of explaining things that didn’t need explaining.
Still, though, I don’t mind it that much.
Is The Baroness A Good Villain?
Honestly, yes she is. And that is in large part due to Emma Thompson’s performance as she is so much fun in this role and having a lot of fun, which makes her all the more enjoyable to watch. Sure, her motivation for what she does is a bit shallow but if it works, it works and it works. I doubt she’ll be remembered as one of the greats from Disney but in terms of recent live-action Disney villains, she’s the best we’ve had in a while.