Disney Villain Countdown: The Journey (An Introduction)
**Spoiler Alert! Some villains are revealed in plot twists, so if you haven't seen all the movies...**
Early 2014, The Disney Heroines project was gathering steam on Facebook, generating some great feedback. Not long after it began publishing, I received a comment that stuck with me:
Oh man! YOU NEED TO DO THIS WITH THE VILLAINS!
Well that's... daunting. Taking on the Disney Heroines was a large project, but I had an angle: their capacity to be role models for little girls who emulate and idolize them. Villains? Most kids want nothing to do with them. I cite Exhibit A:
"What's my angle?" I asked my Facebook friends. "How scary are they? How 'Cool'?" If I was going to build a score-able rubric [what, I believe, made the DH project unbiased and believable] I needed a place to start so I could find quantifiable categories. So I posed a new question to my friends and family on social media...
What makes a Villain great?
I loved that I got to crowd source ideas for this project; my awesome peers gave me some great inspiration to start the brainstorming process. There was one particularly large hurdle to overcome personally: Bias. While I did grow up watching Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella on loop, I spent just as many times quoting and imitating Maleficent as I did Aurora [100% true story]. The villains, for whatever reason, have always held a very strong place in my heart that only grew as I got older. When I got a LiveJournal in junior high? Maleficent was my handle (Oy, LJ, dating myself) and profile picture. Right this moment I'm wearing a Maleficent lanyard for my work ID badge. My instagram followers know that I've only bought one set of flare for my Disney MagicBands so far...
MinkFlamingos readers know my favorite Disney character meeting has been with this family get-together...
Plus the sheer QUANTITY of villains... A luxury of the DH countdown is that not every Disney Film has a humanoid female lead to score, so I had only 24 entrants to research. Villains? GULP. Have you ever gone to the Disney Wikipedia page and seen just how many films that studio has put out since Snow White? I'm pretty hardcore, but the sheer number that even I hadn't seen, didn't know if I could gain access to... I got discouraged and put the project aside for a little while.
In the back of my head... through continuous viewings of Disney films with the Peanut, through heated arguments with my husband over whether Gaston or Ursula was a more sympathetic character, IT LINGERED. Hmmm... what if I only scored animated villains? I went back to the Disney Wiki and made a list. *GULP* Way more than 50 films. Ok, some of those movies don't really have a villain, right? What is qualifies you as a villain? One particular film had me a little stumped, so I turned to social media once again:
Monsters, Inc. Who's the villain? Randall or Waternoose?
The response was remarkably varied. Randall is the antagonist, Waternoose is the villain. Vice versa. I almost left both of them off the list, feeling like I hadn't heard a convincing enough argument for either, when my husband spoke up "Randall has a personal issue with the protagonists, he is the mastermind behind the villainous project, AND he's the primary antagonist. Waternoose is just the money, he doesn't want Sulley involved." Alright then.
So to be considered for this countdown you must not only display villainous traits, but you must also be the primary antagonist of the film. Both, or NO DICE. This caused me to eliminate a few villains that appear on the Official Disney Villains List, and one that appeared in the top 10 of AFI's Heroes/Villains countdown (Man/The Hunter from Bambi? YOU BARELY EVEN SEE HIM! HE'S A METAPHOR!). Sorry, guys, I love you but you just missed the cut.
Finally I found myself with a daunting but doable 40 villains. Yeesh. I began gathering resources (appropriate youtube clips, animated gifs, movie stills, famous lines, etc.)
I was finally ready to create my Rubric. Taking into account some of the most popular suggestions from friends along with my own feelings on what, at their best, Disney can do with a villain, I finally settled on six categories. I revised and tweaked their weights with the help of my dear husband, big thanks to Delaney and Jessica for also being rubric consultants. Then I sat down with my list and an excel spreadsheet and got started.
How to remain unbiased? I initially kept the overall score column empty, so I could just score the characters by category one by one without looking at the overall score. My husband, again, was a huge help in consulting on scores, letting me know when I was being too biased, or overcompensated for being PARANOID of being accused of bias. Finally I filled in the scoring formula, sorted, broke a couple of ties and then... there it was. Believe me when I say, and this is not just me trying to plant a "teaser" for the countdown...
While I definitely could have predicted the top 5, I would not have been right about the order.
I think that's the biggest testament to this process being as objective as I could make it.
Where to, fellow villain lover?
Start the Countdown! Navigate by Rank or Name.
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Or you can go directly to your favorite villain's page...
Bowler Hat Guy Captain Hook Charles F Muntz Clayton Cruella DeVil
Edgar Balthazar Facilier Frollo Gaston Governor Ratcliffe Hades Hans
Hopper Horned King Jafar King Candy Lady Tremaine Lots-o Madam Mim
Madame Medusa Maleficent Mother Gothel Oogie Boogie Percival C McLeach
Prince John Professor Ratigan Queen Grimhilde Queen Narissa Queen of Hearts
Randall Rourke Scar Shan Yu Shere Kahn Skinner Stinky Pete Sykes
Syndrome Ursula Yzma
**DISCLAIMER** I do not own any of the likenesses of these Disney Characters. All characters/likenesses are the property of Disney, and are not being used here for financial gain ****