Overdoing It: 6 Surprise Villain Reveals in Recent Disney Movies
Disney Villains are nearly as iconic as Disney Princesses, and way more notable and memorable than Disney Heroes. Disney Villains are an institution unto themselves, with their own brands of clothing, TV shows and even Disney Channel movies. And why not? Ursula, Captain Hook, Judge Frollo, Hades, Maleficent; these are legendary characters who have earned their place in pop culture.
But I’ve noticed something kind of weird in recent Disney movies…they don’t really have major, iconic villains anymore. Instead, Disney keeps trying to surprise us with a villain twist.
Obviously this isn’t a trait of Disney movies alone. Lots of films have surprise villains. But looking back at some recent films, almost every major Disney animated feature film from the 2010s has featured a surprise villain twist. Where a character we thought was a good guy is later revealed to be the villain. That’s weird, right? Like, do they not realize that they’re all doing it? Maybe if they were more spread out, it wouldn’t be as weird. But, with the exception of one of the earliest examples back in the late 90s, most Disney animated films in the past five years have featured a surprise villain twist.
I really think this is a weird trend and I hope they stop soon. SPOILERS for a bunch of recent Disney/Pixar movies.
6. Toy Story 2
This is the movie that kicked off the trend way back in 1999. Back then, it was a new thing, and Disney didn’t overdue it. Stinky Pete, the prospector from the Cowboy Woody show just wanted a nice life in a museum. He wanted what he felt was best for Woody and the rest of the gang, and he would hurt them to get what he wanted. Should have known something didn’t smell right with Stinky Pete.
Disney and Pixar’s latest release from 2017 is what inspired this list. When Ernesto de la Cruz was revealed not just to be a jerk, but also a murderer, I felt dismayed. He was all over the marketing, and he seemed like being a celebrity didn’t go to his head too badly. But nope! He’s super evil and has super tricked everybody for all this time. And then Disney goes and reveals his villainy with that other tired trope, having the villain’s evil monologue broadcast to everybody else. We’ve heard that song before.
Zootopia in 2016 was a really good film with a really strong message that could have easily ended about half an hour earlier. The mystery was solved, the day was saved, the bad guy was uncovered. But then they decided to throw a villain twist at us in the end. Temporary Mayor Dawn Bellwether was a friendly sheep for the whole movie, only to be revealed as the black sheep in the end.
3. Wreck-It Ralph
I’m not saying King Candy was a hero or all that great of a guy in this 2012 film. But he had a kingdom to run, a populace to worry about and a race to win. He seemed nice enough. And that scene where he convinced Ralph to destroy Vanellope’s racer? That destroyed me because it made so much painful sense! Of course, King Candy turned out to be the evil Turbo and Ralph and Vanellope didn’t actually have to deal with a complicated situation. That turned out to be a sweet deal for them.
2. Big Hero 6
The villain in 2014’s Big Hero 6 was a full-on super-villain! He was masked and mysterious, evil and powerful, and it’s a good thing we had a band of adorable superheroes to lend their aid. Then when he’s unmasked, the villain is revealed to be kindly professor Robert Callaghan from earlier in the film! He was such a nice guy! If only he’d been able to work through his problems in a nice way instead of going full villain. That’s thinking small.
Hans seemed like a nice guy. There wasn’t anything wrong with him at all! But nah, let’s just throw in the twist just as we hit the climax that he’s secretly been a scheming villain this whole time. Doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make sense considering his actions throughout the film. Personally, I like the theory that the trolls used their magic to make him turn evil because they wanted Anna to hook up with their boy Kristoff. Those trolls are cold-blooded, y’all!