What Disney Needs is More Villains, Not Remakes

Published on December 20, 2019

If you were born before, let’s say, 2000 — you still remember or have been somewhat exposed to the glory days of the Disney animated classics.

Anywhere from Walt Disney’s maiden voyage of an animated feature length film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) up to Mulan (1998) is what I personally consider to be Disney’s sweet spot for truly definitive animation.

Some may certainly argue that more recent features such as Frozen (2013) and Moana (2016) have proved themselves to be “classics,” and of course there are grey areas here, but when Disney made the drastic shift into 3D animation, in my opinion — that is when films officially lost their eligibility to be considered a real Disney classic.

If we’re talking “vintage,” that would have been cut off at The Little Mermaid (1989), Disney’s last hand-drawn animated film before they switched to computer animation.

Now — riddle me this: with so many gems of Disney history firmly and forever in place, why must there be this current necessity on Walt Disney Studios’ part to remake each and every masterpiece to be viewed in live-action form?

And don’t say “money.” You’re not allowed to say “money.”

Let’s get real for a moment, at least 10 Disney animated films are, in itself, already remakes — based on already established fairytales by the likes of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. So, to me, the need to show us the exact same story that just happens to use human beings or super duper advanced photo-realistic computer animation seems redundant. 

Forgive me, I’m a Disney purist through-and-through. The Glenn Close version of 101 Dalmatians (1996), I’ll admit, was fun. But hi — it’s Glenn Close. After the “Dalmatians” success, an utter slew of Disney live-action remakes began to slowly trickle in, and then not-so-slowly.

From 2010 – 2019 there have been ten live-action remakes that hit theaters, five of which were all in 2019 — all released with the hopes that this generation’s children will appreciate the beloved stories as much as we did as kids. .

You know what would be a better strategy? Showing them the originals in the comfort of your own homes.

What Disney needs now is not more remakes, but, (just go with it)… more villains.

Maleficent and Sleeping Beauty

To be honest, the only Disney live-action “remake” that I am completely and utterly on board with is Maleficent (2014). The reason that Maleficent is so far superior to any other “remake” is because it’s not a remake.

Maleficent is a “re-imagining.” What we get from the alternate point-of-view take on the 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty is clarity on why Maleficent is has such rage in her. We do not get that in the animated classic, which is true of many of the Disney villains’ “motives,” or lack thereof. They don’t exist. The “jealous” witch wants revenge on King Stefan and chooses to do so through Aurora because… she was bored??? 

Maleficent answers that question in a way that is so deliciously satisfying, and managed to give us an entirely different movie, while still firmly within the parameters of the original story. More of that, please.

Granted, a very punk-rock looking “Cruella” film starring Emma Stone is set to be released in 2021, but frankly, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW why someone would want to skin puppies. Thanks, bye.

Here are some potential villain story “twists” that Disney would be insane not to take advantage of.

Gaston and Beauty and the Beast

I didn’t see the live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017) because I refuse to, but I did hear that Luke Evans “Gaston” was a tour-de-force, and I believe it. Who wouldn’t want to watch 2+ hours of just Luke Evans who can actually sing — unlike some other, ahem, casting decisions in that film — and who could easily carry an entire film following Gaston before he decided to pursue Belle.

Maybe he had a few run-ins with Prince Adam before he became the Beast? Maybe he was a sensitive, aspiring inventor, and Belle’s dad shunned him somehow. And we just know that Gaston has some serious Mommy issues to be explored. 

King Triton + Ursula in The Little Mermaid

I don’t know about you, but I am dying to know more about this deep-rooted sibling drama. Oh… it’s deep.

What could have possibly gone so wrong between this brother and sister that the dude wound up King of the entire sea, and the woman wound up banished to a creepy grotto with nothing better to do than shrink people?

I believe a Little Mermaid POV from the likes of Ursula is very much needed, with some flashbacks of young Triton & Ursula shenanigans before he was crowned King.

Jafar in Aladdin

I mean, the Sultan is not a total buffoon. He must have originally seen some good in Jafar and appointed him as his right-hand-man. Jafar seems pretty ageless, so maybe he went to school with Jasmine and she totally iced him when he asked her to the dance.

Maybe Raja was originally his tiger and the Sultan STOLE HIS DAMN TIGER for his ungrateful little Princess. Who’s to say?

Hook in Peter Pan

Hook (1991) was absolutely brilliant, but Disney missed the boat on the Peter Pan live-action sequel (of sorts), while Steven Spielberg / Amblin Entertainment jumped on it.

Still though, there is room for a Captain Hook centered reimagining that looks deeper into his quest to take back Neverland in the days of Peter and Wendy.

This could include glimmers of a Hook & Smee “buddy comedy” that would be simply delightful.

Tinker Bell in Peter Pan

Speaking of Peter Pan, why has nobody banked on a live-action Tinker Bell? I know she’s not a villain, per se, but she certainly has some rage in her.

Monstro the Whale in Pinocchio

An entire film about a misunderstood whale who really only swallows idiots whole and spews out those who are pure of heart? WOULD watch.

Alexi Melvin is the Senior Entertainment Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers entertainment, events, and their intersection of tech. She is a voice actress, known for her work in the Star Wars franchise films. She is also fluent in both English and Sarcasm.

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