Cruella arrived this month, Maleficent is two movies deep, and considering how much Disney loves to plunder its own works — is that Gaston show still happening? — this surely won’t be the end of the studio’s stable of villains getting their own moments in the spotlight.
With that in mind, we have some suggestions of which notorious animated antagonists should be the stars of their own live-action movies (or Disney+ series, anything’s possible these days). And we don’t want movies that try to make us feel sympathetic for their bad behaviour in whatever movie where they were introduced. We want ‘em at their worst — the more devastatingly evil, the better!
Sid Phillips, Toy Story
In a world where toys can come to life and presumably feel some degree of pain, there’s nothing scarier than a sadistic kid who delights in meting out excessive punishment to every doll and action figure that crosses his path — especially Woody, the Toy Story series’ gentle, heroic main character, though Buzz Lightyear also takes some serious knocks. With his skull-emblazoned t-shirt and fondness for fires, explosions, limb-ripping, and Pop-Tarts, Sid’s entire essence screams “government watchlist.” Really, he offers the perfect chance for Disney and Pixar to hop on the true-crime bandwagon by digging into this schoolyard torture king’s true heart of darkness.
Thanks to 1940’s Fantasia, specifically the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence, Disney has a literal demon — complete with his own array of spooky, scary, fancy-dancing underlings! — to anchor what would absolutely be the freakiest movie to ever emerge from the House of Mouse. Nightmares across multiple generations guaranteed!
Madame Medusa, The Rescuers
Consider the evidence: 1) Runs a sleazy pawnshop in New York City. 2) Kidnaps an orphan for the sole purpose of sending the child into a cave deep in the Louisiana bayou to steal a diamond so extravagant it’s known as “The Devil’s Eye.” 3) Keeps crocodiles as pets. 4) Double-crosses her only friend, the dubiously named Mr. Snoops. 5) Has a certain seedy glamour; accessories include false lashes, purple pumps, oversized earrings, and a shotgun. How do we have a Cruella but not a Madame Medusa already?
Yes, we specified a live-action spin-off movie or series. And yes, Tamatoa is a giant, greedy crab (who just so happens to share Madame Medusa’s lust for gleaming valuables). But if anyone can figure out a way to bring a hulking sea critter with a golden, bejeweled shell into live-action, it’s the wizards at Disney. Just make sure it’s a musical and that Jemaine Clement returns to do the voice.
Madame Mim, The Sword in the Stone
Merlin’s nemesis has some nifty powers — shape-shifting, teleportation, changing her size from huge to tiny — and a genuinely bad attitude that makes her character ripe for more explanation. Madame Mim, or “the magnificent, marvellous, mad Madame Mim,” to quote the modest lady herself, is also seen living in an isolated shack in the woods, not unlike the hideaway we see the Scarlet Witch occupying at the end of WandaVision. Sure, they exist in completely different time periods, but who’s to say there’s not some magical crossover potential there?
Oogie Boogie, The Nightmare Before Christmas
Seriously, what’s the whole deal with this dude? We may never really be able to know the boogeyman, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about this… singing, dancing, sentient sack full of creepy crawlies that an origin story could certainly help answer.
Ursula, The Little Mermaid
Rob Marshall’s live-action take on the beloved animated film is currently at some stage of (covid-delayed) production — with Melissa McCarthy set to play Ursula, noted Sea Witch and master of body language. If Disney’s previous live-action takes on its beloved animated films are anything to go by, The Little Mermaid will make money hand over fist (fin?) whenever it’s eventually released. Equal parts fabulous and terrifying, Ursula is already a fan-favourite character — so a spinoff feels likely, if not inevitable. The boss is on a roll!
Yzma, The Emperor’s New Groove
The asterisk with this one is that Eartha Kitt, who brought the sorceress, onetime royal adviser, and lover of all things purple to delightfully sinister (and often hilarious) life, passed away in 2008. It would be difficult to recreate Kitt’s iconic voice, much less her incredible charisma and stage presence. However, Yzma is still a character we’d like to learn more about, and if a suitable performer could be found for the role, the results just might be “brilliant.”
King Candy, Wreck-It Ralph
He rules over Sugar Rush with a not-so-sweet hidden agenda: keeping Vanellope from realising her true video-game potential because he thinks he should be the main character instead. There’s also that big revelation that the power-mad king isn’t who he’s pretending to be — and what’s more juicy than a royal scandal?
Master Control Program, Tron
Disney’s been longing to make a third Tron movie forever. Why not a story from the point of view of the first movie’s haughty, computer-dwelling, big-headed big bad chess program gone seriously rogue? Frankly, that’s way more intriguing than anything Jared Leto will be bringing to the table.