When it comes to storytelling, one of the most important aspects is the villain. Villains can often be more memorable than heroes, as they serve as dark mirrors to the hero’s goals and values, and delight audiences with how villainous they are in achieving their goals. Even objectively bad stories can be saved by memorable villains.
The animation world has seen many incredible villains, especially in family movies. The field of animation allows for exaggerated designs and creative expression of their personalities and powers. However, with so many movies released every year, some get overlooked for one reason or another.
Merlock – ‘DuckTales: Treasure of the Lost Lamp’
Long ago, the wizard Merlock discovered that when he combined his magical talisman with a genie lamp, it could grant him unlimited wishes. His wish list included immortality, the sinking of Atlantis, and the destruction of Pompeii. Eventually, a thief managed to steal the lamp from him, and now he will do anything to get it back.
Merlock is by far the darkest and most conceptually interesting villain around. duck tales line up. Even without the lamp, her talisman allows her to transform into different animals, giving her access to a host of different skills and abilities. Christopher Lloyd also does a wonderful job of making it look creepy and manic.
Thrax – ‘Osmosis Jones’
When Frank DeTorre eats a contaminated hard-boiled egg, he allows the deadly pathogen Thrax to enter his body. Wielding the power to burn anything he touches, Thrax wastes little time establishing himself as the dominant crime boss in Frank’s body. He plans to kill Frank in 48 hours and be recognized as the deadliest disease.
Everything about Thrax exudes confidence. Nothing will stand between him and his goals, and he’s not afraid to kill his own men to prove a point. Laurence Fishburne enhances this with his performance, which makes Thrax seem amused by the various attempts made against him as he sees nothing as a threat.
Rothbart – ‘The Swan Princess’
When his attempt to usurp the throne from King William failed, the wizard Rothbart was stripped of his powers and banished. Before leaving, he swore to regain his powers and take everything the king loved for him. Years later, Rothbart follows through on his threat by kidnapping his only daughter to marry her and become legally king.
With its powers of creation, modification, and destruction, Rothbart’s magic allows for a lot of fun visuals. He makes the best use of the power to change, both turning Princess Odette into the titular Swan Princess and himself into a terrifying chimera when he has to fight. veteran actor Jack Palance does a good job of making Rothbart sound both intimidating and intelligent.
Darla Dimple – ‘The Cat Doesn’t Dance’
In a world populated by anthropomorphic humans and animals, Darla Dimple is Hollywood’s biggest child star. Although she plays characters who love animals, Darla hates them behind the scenes, especially when she thinks they’re trying to upstage her. This leads to him going to war with a wide-eyed young cat named Danny when he is out of the storyline.
Based on the famous child-star Shirley Temple, Darla offers a fun satire of the actors and the characters they create for themselves and for the audience. The animators also date her, giving her exaggerated expressions ranging from innocent to psychotic. Then there’s his minion, Max, who’s so tall he can’t fit into the frame, giving him a fun big-guy-little-girl dynamic.
Rattigan – “The Great Mouse Detective”
Disney has brought many iconic villains to the world of animation, but one of their most underrated is Rattigan. This rodent counterpart to James Moriarty has big ambitions to claim the Mouse Throne of England. Besides that, he wants to prove to his rival, Basil of Baker Street, that he is the superior intellect.
Rattigan is one of the most entertaining villains in the Disney lineup. His crimes are as much game to him as they are serious, which often makes him laugh and giggle at his own wickedness. legendary horror actor Vincent Price perfectly captures Rattigan’s charm, class and sadism at every inflection, to the point that you forget you’re watching a performance.
Rasputin – ‘Anastasia’
Enraged at being fired by the Romanov family, Grigori Rasputin made a pact with dark powers to put a curse on the family. This resulted in the Russian Revolution and the death of the Tsar and his family, although Rasputin drowned trying to kill his youngest daughter, Anastasia. Since his curse is not fulfilled, Rasputin lingers in limbo until Anastasia dies.
Since Anastasia is presented as a fairytale version of the story, this interpretation of Rasputin works wonderfully. It plays on the real mystery of Rasputin’s life and powers while allowing the director Don Bluth to inject its normal brand of dark, surreal animation. That doesn’t mean he’s incapable of silly moments of levity, though, especially with his albino bat sidekick, Bartok.
Eris – ‘Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas’
As the God of Chaos, Eris’ existence is based on spreading as much anarchy as possible. She asks for help from the master thief, Sinbad, promising him anything in exchange for stealing the Book of Peace. When Sinbad tries to back out of the deal, Eris takes the book herself and frames it in an attempt to throw a kingdom into chaos.
Despite only having less than seven minutes of screen time, Eris is definitely the highlight of this film. Its animation is one of the most fluid and stylistic in DreamWorks, moving with the fluidity of liquid and smoke. It allows animators to develop their creativity and goes perfectly with by Michelle Pfeiffer entertaining performance.
The Colonel – ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
During the American Indian War, a cavalry fort captures a wild stallion. When the stallion resists any attempt at training, the base colonel refuses him food and water. Even after escaping with the help of a Lakota warrior, the stallion encountered the Colonel and his men as they continued their push west.
Much of the Colonel’s design and personality is inspired by real life George Armstrong Custer. His battle to break the stallion thematically demonstrates how 19th century America focused on expansion and shaped the land as it pleased. Still, he’s not without his own code of honor, which is perfectly demonstrated without words during the film’s climax.
Xibalba – ‘The Book of Life’
On Day of the Dead, Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, decides to make a bet with his wife, La Muerta, who rules the Land of Memories, whom the mayor’s daughter will marry. If Xibalba wins, he and La Muerta will trade kingdoms, while if she wins, he will stop meddling in mortal affairs. As the trickster that he is, Xibalba is willing to bend the rules to win.
Xibalba has many of the traits people like to see in trickster-type villains, such as the MCU’s Loki. These include a love of causing trouble that eventually backfires. Xibalba also stands out thanks to a creative design and the wonderful voice work of Ron Perlman, which makes it seem sinister, intimidating and childish all at the same time.
King Haggard – ‘The Last Unicorn’
In a ruined castle overlooking the sea, King Haggard broods in near isolation. Although he rules over a small kingdom, Haggard finds little joy in anything. The exception to this are unicorns, which he has desired to the point of using a demonic Red Bull to herd them into the sea for his eyes alone.
Haggard’s drama has an almost Shakespearean level of tragedy to it. All he wants is to find happiness in life, but he’s so desperate that he’s willing to steal something beautiful from the world without batting an eyelid.Mr Christopher Leeperfectly captures the complexity of the character and was so enamored with the part that he voiced Haggard in the German dub as well.
Next: Ranking the protagonists of the Disney Renaissance, from Ariel to Tarzan
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10 Underrated Anime Villains From Family Movies – GameSpot
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