Stop Giving Disney Villains Sympathetic Backstories (Seriously, Please Stop)

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” would possibly effectively be the boldest animated film the House of Mouse has ever produced, tackling themes of intolerance and discrimination head-on. It additionally wasn’t wherever close to as profitable commercially because the earlier Disney Renaissance movies on the field workplace, and the concept of Disney tackling such darkish, grownup, and, most of all, controversial subject material in at this time’s world is sort of unfathomable.

Therein lies the true supply of my beef with Disney’s sympathetic villain pattern — it isn’t about exploring ethical ambiguities or nuanced storytelling, it is the final word type of fence-sitting. It’s the identical factor the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe has more and more come below fireplace for. MCU antagonists are actually infamous for elevating legitimate critiques of society solely to be saddled with inventory villain traits, permitting the franchise’s superheroes to combat to uphold the established order quite than actively attempt to change issues for the higher. The outcomes are sometimes middle-of-the-road political commentary at its worst. 

Indeed, Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake even borrows a web page from the MCU’s playbook with regards to Jafar. Instead of the captivatingly devious power-hungry schemer from the studio’s authentic animated characteristic, the remake’s model of the character is a po-faced and, frankly, sort of boring villain with real grievances that he feels must be addressed. Alas, if solely his favourite pastimes did not additionally embody homicide and treason, y’know?

At the tip of the day, these sympathetic villain backstories are a part of Disney’s both-sides-ing method. It’s all a way for them to keep away from taking a agency stance on any specific social justice subject (by way of their artwork) and stay on pleasant phrases with folks of all political persuasions, lest they threat damaging their backside line. By the best way, how’s that going for you of us?

“The Little Mermaid” is now in theaters.

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