Brave: Disney Princesses and Responsibility
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been fascinated by Disney Films and their wide cast of characters, but there was always one thing I could never wrap my head around…the official Disney Princess line-up.
Now, let me clear things up, this isn’t a rant about Disney Princesses and how they are a “bad influence on young girls”. I don’t believe that. I know the young mind is open to influence and easily moulded, but I don’t think for a single second it’s causing any harm.
I was raised on Disney the moment I came into the world (I was born in 1991, the same year Beauty and the Beast hit theatres); my room was painted pink, I played with Barbie dolls, and I loved ponies. I also played video games with my brother; as we mercilessly beat each other up in Mortal Kombat, competed in Mario Kart Racing, and played the Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy games together. We watched Transformers and Power Rangers, as well as Sailor Moon and Card Captors. As long as it had a good story and likeable characters, we were invested, regardless of who the demographic audience was.
My tastes changed over the years and I grew up to study Engineering at University, and in my final year I joined the Officer Training Corps as a registered solider in the Wales Territorial Army.
And when I was a little girl I also wanted to be a princess.
When I first saw the teaser trailer for Brave, I was not aware the frizzy ginger hair heroine, wielding a bow and arrow, was in fact a Princess. I only learnt about this later on when the media made a big deal about Pixar doing their first princess film, with their first female protagonist. And I have to admit, after watching the second trailer, I was fascinated. Merida wasn’t like any other princess I had seen before. She’s out in the wild, her dress is ripped, something is stalking her, and even though she is terrified, she’s ready to defend herself with an actual weapon. This looked ground breaking. Like Pixar was turning around to Disney and saying. “Ok, you’ve had this princess formula that has worked well for you since the 1960s, but this is the new Princess archetype. This is gonna be the new standard for princess characters. This is going to be how they are portrayed, how they’re gonna act, and how they’re gonna get stuff done.”
And that’s where the problem lies with most people.
Because the film was covered with so much secrecy, because the plot was so vague, we were disappointed that the film didn’t keep a promise, it never made in the first place. Audiences all around the world already had a high expectation when walking into the cinema, so Brave never stood a chance in the first place. If the film had been advertise any other way, people would have enjoyed the experience for what it was, a mother and daughter film. They would have praised it as a good film for tackling a relationship that most media don’t tend to give nearly enough attention to, and left it at that.
In 2013, Brave went on to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, and everyone agreed it was well deserving, but that didn’t mean there still wasn’t a bitter taste in the mouths of critics and fans who saw the potential in Brave, for what could had been but never was.
But that wasn’t the reason I was so disappointed by the film.
Going back to the release of the second trailer; as the plot and characters were slowly being revealed to the viewer, I found myself drawn to the main theme of the film, about fate and how we choose to act on it, and it was the argument between Merida and her mother that caused me to latch onto the film as strongly as I did.
Merida: I want my freedom!
Elinor: But are you willing to pay the price your freedom will cost?
The moment I heard those two sentences, along with Merida’s final words as the title appeared on screen, “If you had the chance to change your fate, would you?” I thought I knew exactly what this movie was going to be about. I thought this was going to be the Disney film I had been waiting years for, a children’s version of something like, The King’s Speech. A film that really delves into what it means to have this important title and the responsibility and sacrifice that comes along with it. I thought I was gonna see this mystical world, with a tough princess who takes no nonsense, who is training to become Queen, and because of her own selfish actions, her family and Kingdom suffer the price. She takes responsibility for what she has done and in the end proves that she is capable leader.
Which the film kinda delivers, just not in the manner I expected it to.
I suppose my unusual obsession with this aspect of royalty and politics stems from the fact that I, as a citizen of Great Britain, actually have Monarchy, and as I said at the beginning of this essay, I never understood the Disney Princess line-up, because Mulan, Belle, Cinderella, and Tiana are not princesses.
You heard me, not just Mulan, but Belle, Cinderella and Tiana as well.
Let me explain, because this is going to go over some basic knowledge for anyone who lives in the UK, Europe, Asia, and any other nation with a Royal Family.
You cannot become a princess through marriage.
I know for several of you this is common sense, but because of the numerous princess films like the one’s Walt Disney Picture’s produce, many American children in particular are growing up under the misconception that marrying a prince will make you a princess.
So, what does it mean to be one of royalty and/or nobility?
Well, titles like King or Queen, Emperor or Empress, Tsar or Tsaritsa, Raja or Rani, etc., etc. are just that, a title, no different than, Mr or Mrs, and a Prince or Princess is no different. Of course, there are many titles with different meanings depending on which royal family you belong to, but just to keep things simple, I will be using examples from the British Royal family.
The title of Prince or Princess is merely a declaration to the rest of the world you hold a spot on the waiting list to become the next ruler, regardless of whether you are the next in line, or the 100th in line.
For example, Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh is the husband to Queen Elizabeth II, yet he is not the King of England, though he is the King Consort. He possesses the title of Prince Phillip, not through his marriage to Elizabeth, but because he is already a prince to the Greek and Danish Royal families, The House of Scheswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glucksburg.
Another example is Catherine nee Middleton, the wife of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and mother of Prince George of Cambridge. However, unlike Prince Phillip who is already from a line of nobility, Catherine is not of royal blood, so she is instead, the Duchess of Cambridge. Any future daughters Catherine may have will be born with the title of Princess, whereas she will never hold such a title herself, because Catherine is not in-line to become the next ruler, her husband and children are.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Clear and simple.
And that’s what bugs me about the Disney Princess line-up, because America does not have its own Monarchy, but an elected Leader, voted by the people, who serves the people, otherwise they will be voted in place for another candidate (for better or for worse). So, regardless that these Monarchs exist all around the world, since America does not have a Monarchy of its own, it’s easy for children to wave off such titles as only existing in fairy tales. They can make up their rules about what it means to be King, what it means to be Queen, what it means to be a Prince or Princess, and no one will correct them. If princesses are portrayed as a pretty damsel to be married off, then that’s what they’ll grow up believing.
Disney Princesses in particular had this strange effect on me as I gradually grew up. As I child, I liked the idea of playing out games of make-believe princesses with my friends, but then there came a time where I took off the dress and tiara, forgot about the tea parties and festivals, and asked myself…what is it a princess actually does? As far as I knew, Kings and Queens ruled together, and Princes go out and train in ways of sword fighting. But until a princess becomes a queen, what are her responsibilities?
Children’s cartoons and books didn’t provide me with any acceptable answers, so in the end I had to come to my own conclusions…and for a short while I became scared of the word princess. As far as I knew, princesses were locked in towers because the outside world was too dangerous for them, they were kidnapped and forced to marry evil kings who want the throne all to themselves.
I was terrified and suddenly very claustrophobic, and in a fit of panic I decided I never wanted to become a princess again. I became the hero of my own stories, I rode the horse and slayed the dragon, I became a wizard who cast magic spells, I became a superhero with a cape, I became a secret agent, I became anything that wouldn’t make me feel trapped and confined ever again.
It wasn’t until years later in history class that I finally found the answers I had been looking for, and I grew to respect princesses again. The Royal Family were heads of numerous charities, they performed many public duties, they traveled to other countries on business, and joined the army. Even though should have been common knowledge, it astounded me how my stories never once told me I could do all of this. I could do something important, I could make a difference. I found the whole experience even more bittersweet, because long after my princess phase had ended, I had finally found my princess role models.
There are no Disney Princess film modeled after real life Queens and Princesses. Again, only using the UK as an example, we have a long line of well-known female rulers. When I was at school, the most discussed member of the Royal family was Queen Elizabeth I, whose reign would surpass her own father’s, King Henry VII. The Elizabethan era (1558-1603) is literally named after her. Elizabeth showed great intelligence at a young age, spoke many languages, and lived a long and successful life.
At age 18, Elizabeth II helped during the final months of WWII, trained as a driver and mechanic, she was a Junior Officer and delivered medical supplies to the troops. Princess Anne is an accomplished horsewoman and competed in the 1976 Olympics. And Diana, Princess of Wales took part in over 100 fund-raising charities and was president of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.
Keeping in mind this is just in the UK, this is not including the work of all the other Monarchs today and throughout history.
Now, linking this back to Brave, Princess Merida was a lovely breath of fresh air in terms of Disney Princesses. Unlike Rapunzel who didn’t do much in Tangled, Merida at least acknowledged what it means to be a princess, and even though her mother’s lessons and teachings didn’t get nearly enough screen time, Merida still used what she learnt to present herself as a tall and proud figurehead against three other rulers, and used diplomats to prevent a war, as opposed to sheer force, which is what she had been using throughout the film (I’m still waiting for my future princess to take the reigns and lead her army into battle).
Brave wasn’t the Disney film I had been waiting for since I was little, but it is a Princess fantasy I would openly encourage young children to partake in. To become a strong individual who can accept the challenge of leadership and responsibility, and still balance it out with the freedom to be whatever they choose to be.
I think I’ll wrap up this essay by finally correcting the Princess Line-Up that has been tormenting me for the past few years.
Princesses by Birth
Princesses by Marriage
Hero of China
I know which one I wanna a be.
Thanks for reading. ^_^
Sunday, 3 November 2013
Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Top 10 DreamWorks' Villains
This is sure to come as a surprise to none of you that there are a lot of Top 10 Disney Villains floating around on the internet, but surprising I could only find a few Top 10 list of DreamWorks Villains. This surprised me because even though Disney seems to be the master of sculpting the traditional bad guy for fairy tale films, DreamWorks has just as threatening villains, and in some cases, they're actually more complex then just being the bad guy for the sake of being the bad guy.
So, we're gonna celebrate, in my opinion, the best DreamWorks has to offer.
The only rule in regard to this list is there can only one character per franchise (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, etc). So, without further a do, the first guest on tonight's ranking:
#10 The Red Death from How to Train Your Dragon
The Red Death (or the Green Death as it is known from the original source material) is the main villain of How to Train Your dragon. In the book, The Green Death is part of the Seadragonus Giganticus Maximus family, twenty times larger than a T-Rex when fully grown. They can lay up to 4000 eggs, and the hatchlings will kill each other so only one will ever reach adulthood. When the creature first arrives on the island it is Hiccup, the only to speak dragonese, who goes up to the Sea Dragon and asks whether it comes in peace or not. It does in fact comes in peace, but it still plans on eating them anyway.
So now, it is up to Hiccup and his friends to save their island, defeat the dragon and win back the love and respect of their families.
In the movie however, The Red Death is given a different design all together, looking more like a dinosaur than sea serpent. She is also a Queen dragon and uses a form of mind control to force the other, smaller dragons to hunt food for her, and any dragon that brings back a kill she does not deem satisfactory? She’ll eat that dragon instead.
She has a nearly impenetrable hide, excellent vision, a strong fire blast and despite her size, she is still capable of flight, albeit slower than most dragons. So, for a creature of this size and mass, you would think it would rank higher up on the list, but the reality is, The Red Death isn’t even the main antagonist of the film. She’s the villain, there’s no doubt about that, but the true antagonist to our hero is in fact Hiccup’s own father, Stoick the Vast. Majority of the film focusses on Hiccup’s relationship with his father, and Stoick’s prejudice for all dragons, the shortage of food and the constant disappointed he sees in his son for not being a “true” Viking. The relationship between these two is where the real conflict of the film lies, as Hiccup has to pretend to be a good warrior to make his father proud, while also trying to protect his best friend from being discovered, and killed.
The Red Death isn’t even introduced until over half way through the film and even then she doesn’t engaged the Vikings in any conflict until Stoick brings an army to her mountain and tears down her front door (can you blame her for being so upset?). Now granted, The Red Death isn’t a helpless victim in all of this. She is the one sending the other dragons to their island to gather food, destroyed their houses, and the one who caused the conflict that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Vikings and thousands of dragons. That in of itself is a good enough reason to rank her higher on the list, but again it’s not the real focus of the film, and I know many others who agree that the film could have easily been re-written without The Red Death and the plot would have been mostly the same.
Still, in comparison to the other villains higher up on the list, the fact that she nearly succeeded in killing the protagonist (and taking out a good chunk of him along with her), the Red Death is my pick for no. 10.
“Odin, help us...” ~ Stoick.
#9 Mrs Malacia Tweedy from Chicken Run.
Out of context, if I told you the wife of an egg farmer earnt a place on a top villains list, and deserved to be put her higher than the T-Rex eating dragon with an entire hive unit of dragons at its deposal, you’d all think I was as mad as a hatter.
That being said though, out of all DreamWork’s villains (Ok, technically she's an Aardmin character), this one stayed with me for many years, because first time watching Chicken Run at nine years old, that skinny, maroon dressed woman terrified me, and several years later, she still scares me. Unlike most other DreamWorks’ villains, and even the one’s higher up on this list, she never tried to be funny. Everything about Mrs Tweedy was silent, precise and dark. She took the simple job of running a farm and turned it into a prison; taking great delight in slaughtering any chicken that could no longer lay any eggs for her. Just try watching the first ten minutes of the film with axe scene and her gleeful smile and tell me this film was meant for children.
She also disrespects her husband and his family’s business, viewing the Tweedy family as all poor, worthless, nothing. So, taking matters into her own hands she plans on rising out of poverty by buying a pie making machine and plans on slaughtering all the chickens.
Which is confusing. Cause they have what, maybe 25-50 chickens on that tiny farm? Assuming each chicken fills one or two pies, Mrs Tweedy wouldn’t make back nearly enough to break even with what the machine must have cost the family, especially since she plans on selling these pies in supermarkets all over England, and she already paid for the labels and advertisements for it.
Did she take out a loan to acquire more chickens? Was the farm going to expanded into a chicken plant and after she got rid of the first batch, was a new brood of chickens going to be delivered? After the Ginger and the others escaped the farm, did Mrs Tweedy just buy a new machine and turn the next set of chickens into pies?
*glances over at the pie cooking in the oven”
Maybe I should have put her higher up on the list. O_O
Mrs Tweedy, the woman that caused me stay away from any and all farms throughout my childhood.
“Finally, something we agree on.” ~ Mrs Tweedy
#8 High Priest Tzekel-Kan from The Road to El Dorado
Tzekel-Kan is the High Priest of El Dorado and appointed Voice of the Gods, whose duties also include selecting who will be sacrificed to the Gods, a responsibility he takes sadistic pleasure in. The only person with higher authority then himself is Chief Tannabok, and the two are constantly at odds about the “true will” of the Gods.
In fact, in a deleted opening of the original script, the film was meant to open with Tzekel-Kan about to sacrifice Chel to the gods, before Chief Tannabok intervenes and questions whether the Gods truly wish for them to continue sacrificing their own people. Tzekel-Kan, furious and insulted by Tannabok’s lack of faith, actually turns to the stone tablet depicting the two gods and summons them to El Dorado.
And this decision still baffles me even to this day. Why did they take such an important and vital scene in the story and replace it with pretty animations as Elton John singing about how awesome El Dorado is? That opening set the entire tone for the rest of the film, explaining so much about the plot, such as Chel’s character, what Tzekel-Kan was going on about when he said “Did I tell not tell you that the Gods would come?”, and why the people mistook the two for deities in the first place.
And they didn’t use it?
Well, for whatever reason, Miguel and Tulio find the hidden city of gold and Tzekel-Kan quickly takes on the role of the gracious host as he and Tannabok try to win their favour, something which Miguel and Tulio exploit for their own gain. However, Tzekel-Kan’s patience with the two quckly grows thinner as they come up with excuses to prevent any sacrifices, and gradually gain the love of the people. Tzekel-Kan is stripped of his position as voice of the gods and when he finally realises the two are mortals, he uses his dark magic to get rid of them once and for all.
From a character standpoint, Tzekel-Kan fits the role of the man working within the shadows, trying to manipulate Miguel and Tulio into doing what he wants and never once hiding his wicked ways. However, what keeps the character interesting is how devoted he is to his religion and far he is willing go for it. There is never a moment where Tzekel-Kan wavers in his belief, not even when he sees Miguel bleeding. In fact, the moment he is thrown out of the city and found by Hernam Cortes, there is no doubt in his mind that this is one of true gods, and he happily leads Cortes and his men to El Dorado (I’m starting to think the man is a terrible judge of character).
Tzekel-Kan clearly represents one side of a never ending battle between tradition and change (two guesses which side always wins in children’s media.). Tzekel-Kan keeps the old ways going through fear and his manuscripts, whereas Chief Tannabok represents the ways of change and doesn’t believe the gods would wish for their loyal subjects to sacrifice themselves for them. You can defiantly sees parallels between this argument and most religions in general, where Gods were originally thought to be feared and given tributes, whereas most modern day interpretations show the progression of change to fit their view that their being of worship is a loving and comforting deity. You can make your own debate whether Tzekel-Kan truly believes that everything he does is in the name of the gods, or that he’s merely abusing a position of power to feed his perverse desire to watch people suffer and die around him.
For all of these reasons, Tzekel-Kan earns a place in the top ten of DreamWorks Villains.
Well, that and the giant stone jaguar certainly didn’t hurt his slot in the ranking :3
Which actually brings up a good point. TzekeI-Kan seems like the only person in this entire city who knows any sort of magic, and dark magic at that, but he needs the help of the gods in order to convince the Chief that there needs to be sacrifices?
Dude, you control a giant stone jaguar with your mind!
Why is there even a debate? Why doesn’t this mother f***er just cast a hellish fog over the city, cover his body in those glowing green symbols again and take over the city? Clearly he’s the only one who knows any form of magic, and he’s proven to be a legit sorcerer, so it’s not just a simple parlour trick, like Jafar from Aladdin. He could easily convince both the chief and people that the Gods bestowed this power on to him and everyone must do as he commands and sacrifice one person every new moon, or he’ll just kill, I don’t know, maybe five instead. He’s shown no qualms about abusing his powers before, so I’m sure he could easily convince himself it was ultimately what the gods wanted him to do.
Also, did you know, Tzekel-Kan was meant to have his villain own song, “Trust Me” as he brings the stone jaguar to life (try not to get too excited, it’s not nearly as intimidating with Elton John singing the lyrics).
I feel like I’ve gone off track at some point? o_O
High Priest Tzekel-Kan, powerful sorcerer, schemer, power-hungry and all round bloodthirsty psychotic, ranks number 8 of DreamWorks Top 10 Villains.
"And so dawns the age of the Jaguar. Happy New Year." ~ Tzekel-Kan
#7 Megamind From Megamind
Originally, when compiling this list, Megamind was exempt from the ranking, since by the end of the film he becomes the hero (uh, spoilers?). The real antagonist of the film is, Hal Stewart/Titan (or was it Tighten?), Roxanne’s cameraman who was accidently infused with all of Metro Man’s powers and used them for his own selfish gain. However, Titan didn’t even make it into the original top 10, because I thought he was the weakest aspect of the film, and besides, we all know who Metro Man’s powers SHOULD have gone to.
Now, THAT would have made for a sweet film.
Regardless, this is not a list of the 10 antagonist (otherwise Stoick the Vast would have made it into the ranking instead of The Red Death) and reformed or not, Megamin is still a villain for a good portion of the film, and that gives him more than enough rite to demand a place on this list (We’ll just deduct 50 points from his overall score).
Megamind is an alien with an intellect and creativity beyond that of humans, capable inventing elaborate devices, giant robots, weapons and hundreds of robots assistants and pets, called Brainbots (Also, one is pink with long eyelashes. I love it!), who can perform various tasks and act out all of Megamind’s commands. Megamind himself, is loud, childish, dramatic, very charismatic, with a stylish wardrobe and excellent taste in music, and extremely egotistical, even when in the face of defeat. Behind him every step of the way, is his sidekick, caretaker and best friend, Minion, who is normally the more level-headed and wiser of the two. Together they terrorize Metro City and plot to get rid of their adversary, Metro Man, and take over the city.
Megamind’s story is ultimately one about nature vs. nurture. Both he and his arch nemesis, Metro Man were orphaned at young ages when their respective planets were sucked into a black hole, making them the last of their species. From the very beginning the infants’ fates were intertwined, both the last of the kind, with an unknown future. However their destinies took them down separate roads the moment they landed on Earth. The boy who would grow up to become Metro Man was found and raised by a childless couple, whereas the boy who would grow up to become Megamind, crashed landed in the Metro City Prison for the Criminally Gifted, where he was imprisoned for his first crime, breaking and entering (say what you will about his technique, but the boy started out at an earlier age than most villains). Megamind was raised by The Warden and prisoners, the latter of which teaching him their twisted views of right and wrong, and with little to no contact with the outside world, Megamind developed a mixed moral compass. The Warden eventually got Megamind to attend the Lil’ Gifted School for Lil’ Gifted Kids, to help him socialize more with children his own age. Unfortunately, Metro Man just happened to attend that very same school, and while he was popular with the children for his display of superpowers and charming smile, Megamind was ostracized due to his more noticeable alien appearance, and got into trouble every time he tried to use his increased intellect to win the children over. It certainly didn’t help that Metro Man bullied Megamind constantly and was favoured by their teacher.
It was at that moment Megamind came to his own realisation, if Metro Man was meant to be praised for being a good boy, and himself punished for being a bad one, then Megamind would strive become the baddest of them all, setting him down the path towards villainy.
From the first few minutes of the film, the story makes it perfectly clear that because to their shared pasts, both Megamind and Metro Man had the potential to grow up into anything they wanted and could have lived identical lives. The only reason they ended up walking down opposite paths, really came down to the cards life had dealt them with. Whereas Metro Man was loved unconditionally and given everything, Megamind was hated and looked down upon by everyone around him. Their separate upbringings lead them to become the people they are today, but as the story reveals overtime, while our past can shape our future, it does not always define us.
Megamind for all intent and purposes belongs on a villain list. He causes mayhem wherever he goes, damaging public property, theft, abduction, a general lack of human safety, and just outright enjoying every second of being evil.
Megamind is even more fascinating as a character in the respect that unlike most villains, who believe evil must overcome and destroy good, Megamind actually sees good and evil as integral to each other. No matter how many times Metro Man’s thwarts Megamind’s plans; he quickly jumps right back and is already in the work of his next great scheme. Megamind makes it his sole purpose in life to defeat his arch nemesis, never actually thinking he would ever succeed…until he finally does, and when he does takes over the city he, has no idea what to do with it.
Megemind slowly grows over the course of the film; from taking a sample of Metro Man’s DNA in order to start all over again and create a new superhero to thwart his plans, to developing a relationship with Roxanne and actually considering the possibility of giving up crime all together just to be with her.
Although there is no denying Megamind is one of the more interesting, complex and fun characters on this list, I’m afraid he has to fall into the lower half for handing in his villain card. Still, just for his criminal record, dark sense of humour, lack of concern for bystander safety and ambiguous moral compass, ranks Megamind generously at #7 on this list.
Well, that and custom made, baby seal leather boots
“Imagine the most horrible, terrifying, evil thing you can possibly think of... and multiply it... BY SIX!!!” ~ Megamind.
#6 Fairy Godmother from Shrek 2
In retrospect, when you see a top 10 villains list and come across this picture of a short, curvy figured, middle aged woman in pale blue dress, wings sprouting from her back, and representing everything good and virtues about the Blue Fairy myth, with her kind smile and waving a star-shaped wand that produces bubble (Yeah, her magical theme throughout the film is bubbles. Something tells me her eating problems stem back to when she was bullied while attending Hogwarts. Don’t laugh! Bullying is a serious crime!), then you’d think there is something very wrong with this picture.
And you'd be correct.
The Fairy Godmother is a magical being and seen as a celebrity figure in the Kingdom of Far Far Away. We are first introduced to her through Fiona, as Fairy Godmother finds her after her argument with Shrek and her parents, and offers to help, despite neither of two meeting prior to this conversation. She comes across as very kind and well-meaning, but Fiona isn’t interested in her promise of material goods. When Shrek barges in on them, Fairy Godmother takes her leave, but not without giving Fiona her card in case she ever requires her assistance. We later learn that she actually runs her own company, specializing in making the dreams and wishes of others come true, and offers a wide range of spells and potions to help her clients achieve their happily ever after.
(On a side note, I like that the Fairy Godmother angle is actually a job occupation, since it answers all those nagging questions I had about fairy godmothers as a child. Such as, is a Fairy Godparent different from a human godparent? Do you only get one fairy per child, or are you entitled to two? One human, one fairy. Or is there a law in this fairy tale universe that only fairies can be Godparents, and one is assigned to you after you are born? Can other fairy tale like being be godparents? A sylph godmother or a gnome godfather? What about a witch godmother or a vampire Godfather? A dwarf godmother or a merman godfather?
And if not, I demand we march into the street and start a protest to give other fae their rights to have legal care over children!
I’m sensing a reoccurring theme of me getting off track in this on-going list ¬_¬; )
Fairy Godmother’s caring persona dies the moment she’s not around Fiona or in the public eye, as we see in both her interactions with Shrek and King Harold. With the King, we see more of her ruthless business side as we discover the King was once one of her clients, a frog who wanted to become human in order to win the affection of the woman he loved. Fairy Godmother granted Harold’s wish and turned him human. He paid his debt to her and married Lillian, thereby becoming King of Far Far Away in the process. However, sometime after Fiona was born, she was cursed by a witch and would turn into an ogre under the light of the moon (you can make your own debate of how Fiona got cursed in the face place, but it’s not too farfetched to say Fairy Godmother may have had a hand in it). In desperation, Harold returned to the Fairy Godmother, asking her to undo the curse place upon his child, but now that he was King, she demanded a higher price. In exchange for her magic, Fiona would have to marry her son, Prince Charming. Harold reluctantly agreed to the terms, and fortunately for him, Fiona fell in love with the idea of marrying a prince that would come and rescue her from her tower. However, thanks to Lord Farquaad’s interferences in the first film, it was Shrek who reached the tower before Prince Charming and married Fiona instead. Fairy Godmother was furious to discover Fiona was not in the tower when her son arrived and blackmailed Harold into helping her get Fiona and Charming together, otherwise she would undo the spell that turned him human.
When Shrek goes to her factory for help to make Fiona happy, we see an even more vicious and villainous side to her as she demeans Shrek and insults his species, pulling out book upon book of children’s fairy tales, explaining again and again that ogres don’t have happy endings, to the point she is screaming in his face (someone should get her a Grimm Brother’s copy, that might set her straight). In her biased opinion, ogres are the villains or monsters, meant to be vanquished in order for the real, beautiful couple, to live happily ever after. Her prejudice against Shrek and all things ugly, as well as her willingness to force people to fall in love just to fulfil the desire of the her client’s contract, reveals a conniving, spiteful and ruthless monster hidden within.
Fairy’s Godmother’s loving and caring façade crumbles over the course of the movie and by the end of the film, despite the entire populace of Far Far Away watching her, she aims her wand at Shrek and decides to be done with him for good, only for King Harold to protect Shrek at the last second and Deflect Fairy Godmother’s magic right back at her, causing her to explode into a stream of bubbles.
Fairy Godmother’s probably one, and only redeeming feature, is her unquestionable love for her son, Prince Charming, who she spoils and will stop at nothing to make him King. When put together the two make a good comedic duo and despite her wickedness, she has plenty of humorous moments, from how she can switch personalities spontaneously, shouting at someone one second, then smothering her son the next, or her inability to stick to her diet in times of stress. She has a wonderful presence that’s both amusing and unsettling at the same time, and its wonderfully balanced out, to the point where you don’t feel one side was exaggerated too much or that it didn’t blend together well.
That and I don’t think there’s a single person who has seen this film and doesn’t prefer Jennifer Saunder’s version of “I Need a Hero.” That build up to the final climax of the film gives our favourite businesswoman more than enough reason to land in the number 6 slot.
“Remember happiness is just a tear drop away” ~ Fairy Godmother.
#5 Pitch Black from Rise of the Guardians
Pitch Black is an ancient deity, older than the Guardians and possibly as old as the Man in the Moon himself. He is the one that hides under your bed, he can turn dreams into Nightmares, and knows your deepest fears. He has gone by many names over the centuries; the Boogeyman being the most popular, although his favourite title seems to be The King of Nightmares.
Now, for those of you not as knowledgeable of the Guardians universe as others, allow me be the first to introduce you into the world of William Joyce and the book series that the film was originally based on, the Guardians of Childhood.
Now, in William Joyce’s books, before there was a moon or even the earth, there was the Golden Age, where airships would sail the sea of stars, where the world was governed by Constellations, groups of planets and stars led by benevolent families that ruled with imagination and fairness. However, there has always been evil in the world and they came in the form of Fearlings, Nightmare Men and Dream Pirates. They threatened the peace and one the Great houses, the House of Lunanoff, sort to vanquish all evil once and for all. Together with the other Houses they built a prison out of lead in the far most regions of space, where the evil would be sealed away forever, until they were but mere shadows of their former self. General Kozmotis Pitchiner, hero of the Golden age, who led the Golden Armies into capturing them, volunteered to stand guard over the prison’s only entrance (wait, they left ONE guy standing guard over the prison of evil itself? What Assholes!), and for a short period of time the golden Age knew true peace.
Now, some of you are probably wondering where Pitch Black comes into all of this? Well, for the comic book fans out there, remember when Jean Grey from X-Men became the Phoenix and involuntarily killed the people of an entire solar system and a threat to the entire universe?
Yeah, Kozmotis Pitchiner is Jean Grey, Pitch Black is the Phoenix….let the fan art commence.
Breaking down the General’s mind, the fearlings tricked Pitchiner into thinking his daughter had been trapped inside the prison with them, and in an act of desperation he opened the gate and released the evil. They consuming his body and turned him into the entity of fear and evil. The Golden Hero, now Pitch Black attacked each of the Constellations one by one, devouring planets, harpooning stars, destroying dreams and wishes, and turning children into Nightmare Men. He saved the Lunanoff family for last and threatened to turn their son into his Fearling Prince. In order to save their son they boarded a ship and left the Golden Age, heading for a lone planet without a moon, a planet called Earth. The ship would disguise itself as a moon and forever evade Pitch’s sight. However, Pitch caught up with the ship and attacked with his Dream Pirates, overpowering the crew and taking the Lunanoff’s captive. In one desperate attempt, the child’s Guardian, Nightlight, sacrificed himself in order to seal Pitch away, deep within the Earth itself. The ship was heavily damaged and unable transform back into a ship, forever stuck in Earth’s orbit. The boy grew up to become the Man in the Moon and was the first Guardian of Earth, protecting the children until the day Pitch Black would awaken once more.
So, overall we have established that Pitch Black is not just a generic bad guy for a children’s story, but a Greek tragedy. He was the hero of the Golden age and loving father to a daughter who he was willing to unleash evil upon the world in order to save. This fatal mistake cost him his humanity and made him a weapon to kill innocent people and turn children into his mindless minions. He rid the world of dreams and wishes and instead replacing it with fear. Even when he has lost most of his powers, the Man in the Moon must bring together a group of Guardians to help him fight back against him and his growing army. Pitch Black is weakened over the course of the series and the more of him that crumbles, the more his human side is able to resurface and fight back.
As of now the series is still on-going, but it’s clear that William Joyce intended Pitchiner’s character arc to be one of redemption and I’m looking forward to seeing Pitchiner break free from the Fearlings control and how he comes to terms with the blood of billions of innocent life’s on his hands affects his already scarred psyche, especially with the knowledge that he killed the Man in the Moon’s parents and nearly wiped out all of Bunnymund’s race.
(Oh, didn’t I mention that? In the books, Bunny is actually an alien from the Golden age. His people were given the task of protecting the “Egg of Creation” containing the light of all creation and life. When Pitch’s armies first attacked, Bunny took the egg and left for Earth, creating plant life, animals and technology.
Oh, and he’s also the time police. He can appear anywhere in time and space and stop anyone that would attempt to alter the timeline.
So yeah, Pitch Black is an X-men and Bunny’s a Time Lord…
I’m only now just realizing how weird these books are…o.O)
So, everyone up to date with Pitch’s character? Good!
Cause I want to forget everything I just said!
As much as I would like to contribute all this information into Pitch’s final ranking in the list, the reality is we are not judging Pitch Black by his book counterpart but by his film interpretation, and as sad as it for me to admit this, Pitch doesn’t have a backstory. That’s not to say the filmmakers didn’t give him one, in fact they had their own interpretation of the villain. After the film’s release the artist made a series of online webcomics to expand the Guardians and their universe. In one of these comics strips, there are hints of a larger back story the team originally had planned for Pitch, so much so that one of the artists created her own series of comics following Pitch’s story before the events of the film.
In the film universe, the Man in the Moon is not a literal man, but a spiritual deity that is able to communicate with the Guardians and guide them. Pitch has been on Earth longer than any of the Guardians, and possibly as old as the Man in the Moon. He has been present since the dawn of man and served a purpose in the world. As the living embodiment of fear, he kept mankind alive by the survival instinct of “fear or flight” so they would never stray from the light and fear the unknown. Pitch continued to evolve and adapt, scaring humans in different ways that reflected their society at the time. As time went by and Pitch grew in power, the moon selected individuals to act as Guardians, and even offered Pitch a place amongst their ranks. Pitch however was insulted that the Moon thought he was something to be replaced, something that was no longer needed. In a fit of rage, Pitch turned his back on the moon and the world was so consumed by fear, called The Dark Ages. The Guardians stood up to Pitch and brought light and wonder to the people, weakening Pitch and striping him of his power. Forced to retreat into the shadows, Pitch vowed vengeance on both the Moon and Guardians, and began to plot.
In so many ways, Pitch Black’s film incarnation has a much more complex backstory than his book counterpart, as he is not just a tool who is being manipulated by a force of pure evil. Pitch does not see himself as evil, he is the embodiment of Fear and has a place in the world, as a protector even if he himself does not see it that way. Pitch takes great delight in the fear of others, but it is his influence that kept mankind alive for the first few centuries. However, as time went by, the human race evolved and even though Pitch adapted, as an ageless entity himself, he could not evolve with them. Humans by nature are curious, and while they may fear the unknown, they still reach out for it. The world did not need fear as it once did, it needed a new force to guide it if it hoped to continue on evolving. The Moon realised this and selected four individuals to represent four virtues of childhood, and gave them the responsibility to protect and guide those virtues as the children grew into adulthood. Pitch did not react well to this sudden turn of events and at the height of power, he was stripped of his position and replaced by those he deemed inferior to himself. Bitter at being tossed aside like an old hat by the one Pitch once thought as his only companion, Pitch grew bitter and patiently waited for the day he would rise to power once again, to show the Guardians what it felt like to shoved aside like he had been.
Sadly, again I can’t contribute any of this information to Pitch’s final ranking because it is never addressed in the film itself. In the early storyboards of the script there was a scene that had been taken out of the film, involving Jack’s story through the 300 years he was wondering the earth alone. In one of these scenes, Jack meets Pitch for the first time and the two converse, with Pitch actually trying to persuade Jack to join his side. Naturally, Jack refuses and the two part ways, but this single scene would have added so much more layers to Pitch’s character then we actually got.
So, if we can’t take into consideration Pitch’s backstory in the books, or the comics? Then why does Pitch deserve a place as my #5?
It has mostly has to do with the fact he is the boogeyman and because, in this world the belief of children gives them strength, so Pitch has no interest in the affairs of adults. This is terrifying to younger children since they are familiar with the name of the boogeyman and are more easily affected by bad dreams them we are. It is also terrifying for adults, since they are watching a film about a supernatural creature that takes great delight in scaring their children, and because the boogeyman cannot be seen by those who do not believe in him, it is basically saying you cannot protect your own child from his touch.
Beyond that though, it also comes down to his appearance. Each of the characters has a defined shape that sets them apart from everyone else in the cast. Pitch is no exception to this rule. He’s both tall and lithe, with the blackness of his long clothing adding to his already thin stature and towering presence. He is also very angular, but swift and fluid in his movements, able to pop in and out of shadows like water. His hair is swept back to add greater detail to his face and grey skin, which also has a grainy texture to it. He also has a noticeable profile from how his nose runs down his forehead, conveniently giving him a dynamic silhouette when he is in his shadow form. The most noticeable feature of Pitch Black though are his eyes, which are the only part of him that has any colour. His eyes are mostly gold with a ring of silver that resembles an eclipse. (Personally, I always saw it as a reference to his book counterpart, because both Sandy and MiM are also from the Golden Age themselves and have golden eyes. If we say this is a common eye colour then it is not too far fetch to say Pitchiner may have had golden eyes himself and the grey veins running through them are a sign that the Fearlings are still in control).
Beyond his physical description and acting as the embodiment of fear itself, its Pitch’s personality and power that wins me over. Pitch is more upbeat then his book counterpart, taking great delight in everything he does, even dancing with joy just when he thinks he’s won. But he’s also quick to lash out when angered, and can effectively jump between the two in a very unsettling manner. Although Pitch is still a capable fighter, his main weapon is always his own voice. When confronting the Guardians, he talks down to them and constantly moves in and out of shadows, keeping them on edge and trying to get under their skin. Throughout the film he is constantly manipulating Jack and taking great pleasure in exploiting his fear and feeding on it.
However, underneath all that is a lonely person. The filmmakers tried to make it perfectly clear that everything Pitch says to Jack in Antarctica is sincere. There is an undeniably similarity between Jack and Pitch, in how they want to be seen, and are searching for somewhere to belong. It is very easy to see how close Jack could have turned into Pitch if he did not find happiness in the simple act of bringing snow to children.
Even though he doesn’t have his Nightmare Men in this version, Pitch has learnt how to use fear to corrupted Sandy’s dreamsand and turned them into Nightmares. They act as Pitch’s main weapon throughout the film and have wonderful and dynamic movements. Pitch is able to craft the sand into various weapons, such as a scythe, an arrow, spear, or just a wave of sand that is able to both attack and act as a shield.
This analysis has gone on for too long, but just because of Pitch design, the personality, his choice of weapons and acting as the human vessel for fear itself, I rank the Nightmare King #5 in DreamWorks Top 10 Villains List.
"I'd say "pleasant dreams"... but there aren't any left!" ~ Pitch Black.
#4 Captain Chantel Shannon DuBois from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.
Captain DuBois (AKA Crazy lady, AKA psychopath) is the head of Animal Control in Monte Carlo and considered to be the best animal control officer in all of France (and possibly the world), with a perfect track record. She has an extraordinary sense of smell, capable of tracking down any animals purely by its musk. This along with her improbable aiming skills with a dart gun, amazing strength, high level of endurance, and all around unstoppable determination, no prey ever escapes Captain DuBois’ sights. She holds a strong hatred for animals after having supposedly at age eight, strangled her pet parrot, flushed her first goldfish, and punched her first snake. She mounts the heads of all of her quarry on the wall of her office, but there is one prize she dreams of adding her wall above all others, a lion. When she receives a call of four escaped zoo animals, Dubois will chase down Alex across countries until she has his head for herself.
And I’m not gonna lie, I love this woman. True, she may not be nearly as complex as other characters on this list, but she had me both awed and laughing every second she was onscreen. She is so obsessed with getting her hands on Alex, that in a very well animated chase scene in Monte Carlo, she driving her moped through every one of the Penguins obstacles, and willing to make a daring jumps she shouldn’t be able to make, and crash through buildings and jumping over tables, just to get a hold of him. THAT’S COMMITMENT! She is even willing to go against regulation and continue on chasing Alex across Europe, even with the police after her. I was always looked forward to whenever she was onscreen, and she is the only villain out of the entire series who I genuinely loved from beginning to end.
In the first movie there wasn’t really a main villain to speak of, minus the Fossa, (but really they just want a meal, so I can’t really fault them for their natural instincts) and while Makunga was kind of a funny villain in the second film, I thought he was pretty forgettable. Nana on the other hand? I’m just gonna go right out and say it, I hated her. It’ just a pet peeve of mine, but I can’t stand it whenever a female character beats up an innocent male character just for the sake of humour. I understand why it works when the character is meant to be unlikeable and you enjoy seeing them in pain, but when the character in question is just a naïve guy who accidental touches or looks at a woman the wrong way? I don’t get it. Is the joke meant to be he’s supposed to be this big, strong lion and he’s getting his ass handed to him by an frail, old lady? Cause I don’t see that. I see someone being attack and ABUSED, and I find no humour in it (if you haven’t guessed yet, I hate it in any anime where the girl punches the main protagonist into the atmosphere just because he unknowingly said something wrong that mildly insulted her).
That’s not to say the character didn’t get better, when she returns in the second film, in the safari scene when Alex lunges right at her, THEN I was laughing my ass off because the two were trying their hardest to beat one another to a bloody pulp (Alex even tries to slam a rock down on her, that was hilarious!). However, unlike Nana who would almost always overpower Alex, Captain DuBois in my opinion, works as the perfect slapstick character because she could take whatever she dishes out. In media, there is always this underling fear with writers that female characters in comedy; where the payoff will never be as funny if a woman is on the receiving end of the impact, which is why in any comedy whenever slapstick is involved, the woman will always be the one pitching it rather than receiving it. The most famous example being Grey Spy from the comic series, Spy vs. Spy, who would ALWAYS get the upper hand over the two male leads, Black Spy and White Spy. No surprise, the readers got bored with her act rather quickly since she would always win in the end, despite the fact the real suspense of the comic strips came from how you honestly didn’t know if Black or White would win. Readers were invested because all the way through the act, the payoff could go either way and in some cases there wasn’t even a winner.
Thankfully, there are writers who aren’t afraid of their female characters being on the receiving end of the punch line, my personal favourite being Twilight Sparkle from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who would receive probably the most punishment out of the entire mane cast throughout the show, and would ALWAYS be the one to be on the receiving end of any heavy object falling out of the sky (especially if Pinkie Pie was nearby). Captain DuBois is another one of the characters and in every slapstick scene, she hits the right note and the animators are never afraid to make her look damaged or ugly.
Another wonderful aspect of this villain is how DuBois slowly breaks down over the course of the film; going from this smooth, sharp and unbeatable adversary, to someone slowly losing composure and patience, until finally she breaks down and turns into this crazed, dishevelled, snarling beast, much like the so called animals she has dedicated her entire life to catching.
I especially find the character astounding because, in terms of the film itself, you didn’t really need a villain. The main aspect of DuBois’ character is just to get our heroes to run away with the circus, and for all sakes and purposes, her role in the film is essentially over. The plot with the circus has so much heart, drama and plenty of conflict to keep itself going, you really didn’t need a villain. However, DuBois herself is just so strong and so enjoyable as a character, you honestly don’t mind her presence, and if anything, she adds a wonderful flavour that compliments an already brilliant film.
For her almost perfect track record, and brilliant singing voice lands Captain Dubois, #4 on my Top 10 DreamWorks Villains."You know what they say. When in Rome…VIVA LA FRANCE!!!" ~ Captain DuBois.
#3 Lord Shen from Kung Fu Panda 2
Lord Shen is the exiled Lord of Gongmen City, skilled in the use of combat weapons, with an army of loyal wolves at his disposal, and brilliant mind that allowed him to invent a weapon that threatens to wipe out all of Kung Fu, plans to take over all of China if not stopped first.
Before his exile, Lord Shen was born into the Noble Peacock Family and heir to the throne of Gongmen City. His family were well loved by the people, and renowned for their invention of gunpowder (one of the four great inventions of China.) and creating fireworks that dazzled the masses. Shen however saw an even greater potential for the gunpowder and dabbled in making weapons and other explosives. Fearing for their son, his parents sort the help the Soothsayer Goat, a Seer and Shen’s childhood nanny. She prophesied that if Shen continued down his path, he would be defeated by a warrior of black and white. Overhearing this prediction, Shen readied his warriors and together they, supposedly, slaughtered all the pandas in the land. Shen returned home, thinking he would be welcomed with praise, but instead his parents looked at him with horror and banished him. Shen left with his follower of wolves and swore vengeance, vowing to return as the rightful ruler of Gongmen City.
When first compiling this list, I had a hard time choosing between Lord Shen and Tai Lung, and wanted to put them both on the list. When comparing the two, even I had to admit, Tai Lung has a much more emotional backstory then Shen. Tai Lung was raised by Master Shifu who taught him the ways of Kung Fu and loved Tai Lung unconditionally. This relationship was the emotional centre of the film, as Tai Lung trained harder than anyone at the dojo, to the point of brutality, in order to be worthy of the Dragon Scroll, and by extension make his father proud. However, Master Oggway saw the darkness growing in Tai Lung and denied him the scroll. Master Shifu could not argue with his own master and did not defend Tai Lung. A painful hit to his pride, Tai Lung laid waste to the Valley of Peace, before deciding to take the scroll by force. Shifu could not harm his son and if not for Oogway’s interference, Tai Lung would have succeeded in taking the scroll. Tai Lung was imprisoned in Chorh-Gom Prison and Shifu could never forgive himself for being the one responsible for pushing Tai Lung down the path of darkness. He could never open his heart to another and became cold and distant. Even when he takes in Tigress as his student, he could never allow himself to become close to her as he once was with Tai Lung. This greatly hurt Tigress as she grew up, forever in Tai Lung's shadow, and unable to win the love and affection of the man who raise her. This all leads up to both Shifu and Tigress’ treatment of Po in the film. Shifu is cold and demeaning to Po, unable to comprehend how someone so untrained and undisciplined could be more worthy of the Dragon Scroll, when his own son had been denied. In comparison, Tigress cannot forgive Po for being chosen as the Dragon Warrior when it was clear to everyone in the arena that she should have been chosen, and even her friends and equals thought so too. Po got in-between not only Tigress’ chance of becoming the Dragon Warrior, but more importantly, her only chance to bring some peace to Shifu and finally earn his praise.
And yet, despite all that and how one person’s love for a parent can cause a domino effect that led up to the events of the film, I always knew from the very beginning, Lord Shen would ultimately be the one chosen for this list, and land in the top 3.
As for my reasoning why Lord Shen is the one more deserving one to be on this top 10, it really comes down to a number of factors. Firstly, everything in Kung Fu Panda is greater and grander. With Tai Lung, everything was set in the Valley of Peace and the conflict was about a student getting revenge on his master, with the main character acting as an obstacle. In Kung Fu Panda 2 however, the villain has an entire army at his command and his plan is to not only reclaim his city, but take over all of China itself, with a weapon he created from his own design to wipe out all of Kung Fu; the very thing the main characters value, and in which their teachings, morals, and very way of life revolve around. Lord Shen also has a deeper connection to Po, as he was the one who lead the attack on Po’s village and would have killed him, if Po’s mother did not risk her life and lead him and his men away from Po.
Even years later, when Shen reclaims the city and orders the Soothsayer to read his future again, he finds out he still has not escaped his fate, and a warrior of black and white will still raise up against him. Shen realizes at that moment he has not truly won and this plan he has been working on for the last decade could still fall down around him. In contrast to Tai Lung, who was in prison and had nothing left to lose, he goes back to the Valley of Peace to take the scroll, and finally let out all the building rage he held for his father over the past several years he was sent to rot in that prison. Shen Lord reaches his goal early on in the film, as he tears through the city’s defenses, gets rid of the city council, and throws his father’s throne out the window as one last act of defiance. He is now comfortably in a position of power to plan out his next step, but the moment Po is brought to the palace and later escapes, doubt begins to fester in Shen’s mind and suddenly he has everything to lose.
The character’s design and personality was also another deciding factor. Whereas Tai Lung was just a large and imposing opponent who destroyed everything in his path, Lord Shen was sleek and elegant. He walks with a grace that only royalty can possess and holds himself in a very dignified way. Yet, despite that he is also very comical, quick to anger and always planning what he would say and how he would act, only to be disappointed when the situation didn’t go remotely as he predicted. Despite how many would think a peacock would be the least imposing animal they could think of, especially when next to a Snow Leopard of all things, Lord Shen is actually quite intimidating. For lack of a better phrase, he has a very bird like way of looking down at you, particularly at Po in the factory scene, with a slight title of the head and bulging of the eyes, like a predator in mid-flight, either waiting for its prey to give up and collapse, or just analyzing which way would be best to swoop in and strike. His feathers are also an important part of his character. Even though he wears a robe, when those tail feathers are on display, much like a real life peacock, the character just feels larger and more threatening. It is also especially powerful because of the effect the red symbols on Shen’s feathers have on Po, freezing him with fear. Shen is also able to achieve small amounts of flight, and capable of defending himself with the throwing weapons he hides in his robes, and even uses his own tail feathers to deflect blows.
Of course that doesn’t mean everything about Lord Shen was executed better. For example, in both films, an older and wise character is able to spot the evil within the character’s hearts and this causes both of them to commit an unforgiveable crime in order to achieve their goals. In Kung Fu Panda, you understood where Tai Lung’s anger came from and why he was so short tempered. We saw how hard he pushed himself and why it meant so much for him to be seen as the Dragon Warrior and exceeding all his father’s expectations. When Oogway turns Tai Lung away and Shifu does nothing to stop it, in that single frame you see Tai Lung lose everything he ever thought he would achieve. He is hurt and filled with hate that the one he worked so hard for would not even attempt to say anything in his defence. It’s hard not to sympathize with him at the end of the film when he’s overpowering Shifu and letting out all that hurt and resentment, until he’s standing there breathless, with nothing left to say as Shifu tells him, he was always proud of Tai Lung.
With Lord Shen however, it really comes down to someone predicting he would go down a dark path and because Shen just happened to overhear it, what does he do? KILLS AN ENTIRE VILLAGE!!!
While yes, you could argue that by that point Lord Shen was already far down the dark path and even if he never heard the prophecy, he was still capable of killing innocents to achieve his goals. It still doesn’t change the fact that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I hate those types of story plots where nothing would have happened if there was no prophecy to begin with. If Lord Shen did not come up with the bright idea to use gunpowder and to turn it into a weapon, someone else would have come up with it instead. No one would have been killed if the Goat kept her mouth shut (You heard me, I’m calling it out! Lord Shen did not kill all those Pandas, it was her. She’s the reason they’re all dead and Po is an orphan!).
Regardless, of my nit-pick of the character’s backstory and a major plot point of the film; it’s still not enough to overpower what a wonderful character the villain is. Lord Shen has a wonderful and dynamic design. He’s very stern and ruthless, but loved his parents regardless and never lays a hand against the Soothsayer, the woman who raised him, even as she continues to mock and talk down to him. He is fully composed and dignified, but still carries a sense of humour about him. He is not trained in any form of Kung Fu ,but is still a worthy opponent and capable of keeping up with Po and the Furious Five. And like most great villains with a confident and composed persona, it gradually wears down over the course of the film. Just on the verge of losing, he orders the death of his own men just to achieve his goal, and doesn’t hesitate in killing his own lieutenant when the wolf defies his orders. Finally, when Lord Shen is defeated and Po forgives him for his past deeds, he still cannot let go of the past and is defeated by his own weapon.
That and he’s voiced by Gary Oldman, so that give him like 20 extra points in my ranking, which lands Lord Shen in the top 3 of DreamWorks Best Animated Villains.
“The only reason you are still alive is that I find your stupidity mildly amusing.” ~ Lord Shen.
#2 Pharaoh Ramses II from Prince of Egypt
(How many of you are pissed off Ramses wasn’t my pick for #1?)
Ramses the second is the son of Pharaoh Seti I and Queen Tuya, and older brother to Moses, the film’s protagonist. As the eldest son (and the only one of royal blood), Ramses is weighed with the heavy burden of succeeding his father as the next Pharaoh and carry on the legacy of his ancestors. When Moses learns of his true ancestry and accidently kills a guard in order to protect a Hebrew slave, in a moment of panic he tries to flee from the city, but Ramses catches up with and promises that no one would ever have to hear of the crime. Moses, too consumed with guilt, cannot bring himself to return home and says goodbye to his brother before leaving, assumingly forever. Many years later, Seti and his wife, pass away into the next life and Ramses is made the new Pharaoh of Egypt. With his new reign of power, Ramses sort to make his own legacy greater than that of his father’s, building even greater monuments and temples to himself, even though the oppression of the slaves only grew worse under his reign. When the day finally arrived when Moses returned home, Ramses happily greeted his brother back and dismissed Moses of his past crime all those years ago. However, he quickly learns that Moses has not returned with the intent to become a family again, but to liberate the slaves under the name of the Christian God, Ramses must choose between his loyalty to his family dynasty, and his love for his brother.
Their relationship from this point onwards shifts to enemies as they are forced into conflict by forces higher than themselves, despite both of them wanting nothing more than to go back to the way things were before. Ramses increases the slaves labour and refuses to back down to Moses, even when God sends down the ten plagues upon Egypt. It is only when the last plague takes the life of his own son, does Ramses finally concede and grants Moses’ people their freedom.
I’m not sure what I can say about Ramses that hasn’t already been analysed to death?
Well, what makes this character (I repeat, character, not villain) so fascinating, really comes down to how human he is. Even though Ramses and Moses are not related by blood, Ramses loved his brother dearly and the two were very close as children, going chariot racing together and causing mayhem throughout the palace, which normally resulted in the destruction of a monument or two. Since Moses was the younger brother and would never become King, he was more laid back than Ramses, who was constantly reminded of the responsibly placed upon him as next in line for throne. Seti was especially strict with Ramses when disciplining the two, blaming Ramses for being so easily goaded by Moses when he is meant to be the more responsible and assertive of the pair. On one such occasion, particularly frustrated with his sons recklessness, Seti called Ramses “the weak link” in the family dynasty. Ramses was deeply wounded by this accusation and took the words to heart, which acted as a prime motivator for his actions later on in the film when he finally does become Pharaoh.
Ramses is without a doubt the villain of the film, but from his point of view he does not see himself as being particularly evil (stubborn yes, but not evil). He was born in an era where slavery was common, and even Moses shares his family’s upbringing and view of Hebrews, completely ignorant to all the damage he causes to the temples, destroying the slave’s work, and disregarding the fact they are the one who will have to rebuild everything he broke. Moses doesn’t even start caring for the slaves until he discovers he himself is a Hebrew and has a brother and sister (and even then he doesn’t even think about freeing his people until God orders him to).
Despite Ramses’ prejudice, there is no denying he and his parents loved Moses unconditionally. Seti and Tuya either knew what Moses was from the very beginning or figure it out later on in life, and even then it did not matter because in their eyes Moses has and always will be their son. When Ramses learns the truth he does not think any less of Moses and when his brother does finally return, Ramses affectionately welcomes him home and clear Moses of all previous crimes, despite his advisors’ obvious disapproval.
Although, you could make the argument that Moses’ family turning a blind eye to his real ancestry just makes them all the more despicable in their treatment to the Hebrew people.
When Moses does return as Ramses enemy, you can see how it hurts him and he doesn’t instantly start hating him. At first he doesn’t believe Moses’ story, but once his brother makes it very clear he has not returned as a prince, but as a saviour, Ramses takes the news badly and after a flash of sadness in his eyes, he is then filled with rage and lashes out, punishing the slaves for Moses’ betrayal. Their rivalry only gets worse as time goes on and even as God sends down the 10 plagues of Egypt, Ramses own stubbornness and the words of his father stops him from giving in to Moses’ pleases, even as his empire crumbles around him. It is only when the last plague takes the life of his own son does Ramses’ finally grants Moses’ people their freedom...and then changes his mind and rallies him soldiers to either reclaim/kill them. Moses gets everyone safely across the Red Sea, Ramses’ men drown, whereas Ramses is swept to safety on the shore, and now all alone he calls out Moses’ name in both anger and sorrow at his final defeat.
Ramses is even more sympathetic if you actually look at his dilemma from an Egyptian point of view. The Egyptians, particularly the royal family, viewed the afterlife as more precious than the living world. Thieves who are caught grave robbing from a King or Queen's tomb were more heavily punished than a murderer, because they saw it as the thief forever ruining that person's afterlife, which is forever while the living is only temporary. Ramses has a lot to fear by being the weak link in the dynasty, as destroying his entire family line will not only damn him in the afterlife, but also his ancestors. Ramses is literally caught between two families, and the fact he actually weighs his brother (a Hebrew) of equal value to his entire lineage, is very heart-warming.
I’ve literally ran out of things to say about this one, since you’ve all seen the film and you could probably explain the complexities of the this character better than I can. So, for being DreamWorks most tragic, complex and overall, most human character on this list, Pharaoh Ramses II is my choice for #2 (and no I didn’t put him second place just because it’s in his name ¬_¬ ).
“I will not be the weak link! Tell your people, their work load has been doubled, thanks to your God. Or is it thanks…too you?” ~ Ramses.
#1 Eris From Sinbad: Tale of the Seven Seas
Eris is the Goddess of Chaos and strife, the denizen and proprietor of Tartarus: The Realm of Chaos, and makes it her entire purpose to spread mischief across the world. In this realm of hers, she is able to see all that occurs on Earth, and free to interfere as she pleases with an army of constellations at her command, who take on the form of giant monsters; such as the Kraken, a Roc and even a giant scorpion. On this one particular morning, Eris takes a keen interest in the Southern Sea, where a magical tome called the Book of Peace, is being transported to Syracuse by Prince Proteus and his men. She sends one of her pets to retrieve the book for her, because without the book, the nations will not remain at peace with one another and chaos will rule. Her plans are foiled though when Sinbad and his band of pirates, who also want the books, intervene and both side team up to kill her pet. The Book of Peace makes its way Syracuse with neither party able to steal it. Eris, now taking a keen interest in Sinbad, makes a deal with him, steal the book for her and she will grant him anything he desires.
Eris then disguises herself as Sinbad and steals the book for herself, the world is plunged into darkness and Sinbad is arrested for the crime (huh, so she was just gonna steal the book anyway? I wonder if there’s a more sinister plot afoot?). When Sinbad reveals he doesn’t have the book, he is sentenced to death, but not until Prince Proteus (a childhood friend of Sinbad’s) takes his place and gives Sinbad three days to sail to Tartarus and bring back the book, or Proteus will die in his place.
Eris meanwhile is watching the conversation and follows Sinbad’s every move, when Proteus’ finance Marina, employs Sinbad’s crew and accompanies them on their journey to make sure he keeps his word and brings back the book, or returns and accept his execution. Sinbad agrees and now that they are actually sailing for Tartarus, Eris sends her minions to intercept Sinbad at every turn, but he and Marina manage to evade or overcome each of her challenges and enter the realm of Chaos. Eris then reveals her real plan, she knew from the very beginning Proteus would take Sinbad’s place, while Sinbad would use the opportunity to escape and leave Proteus to his fate, but she didn’t count of Marina convincing Sinbad to actual go after the Book of Peace. In one last confrontation, she plays to Sinbad’s selfish side and agrees to hand over the book if he can answer her question truthfully; if he failed to reclaim the book, would he still go back to die? Sinbad says he would, but just as he is about to take the book, Eris calls him a liar and expels the two from Tartarus.
Even though he failed Sinbad, who has now fallen in love with Marina, decides to go back and face execution to save Proteus. Just as the axe is about to fall, it shatters into hundreds of tiny fragments and an enraged Eris appears before the people of Syracuse. Sinbad figures out in that exact moment he did in fact answer her question truthfully, and rather than proving her right and sailing away with Marina, he instead stayed to face his execution, just like he said he would. Bound by her word as a Goddess, Eris has no choice but to return the book, clearing Sinbad of all crimes, and bringing peace to the Southern Seas.
When first coming up with this list, I wrote it in a mind-set that Ramses would undoubtedly end up being at #1 and everyone would just be sorted underneath him. However, after compiling around 20 or so DreamWorks villains, I found one I had completely overlooked, and there wasn’t any doubt in my mind that Eris HAD to top the list. There was just no competition.
This is what Pitch Black should have been, this very human but still inhuman creature. Eris is ever changing and never quite seems tangible, constantly in motion and drifting like smoke, disappearing and reappearing however she pleases and changing her size on a whim.
Eris is literally the Goddess of Chaos, a powerful sorceress who possesses omnipotent like powers, and whose very purpose is to spread mayhem upon the world. The galaxy is her playground, as she quite literally bathes in the milky way, and the constellations act as her pets, who follow her every command. She is a trickster by nature and uses her flair of seduction to keep Sinbad off-guard and manipulate him as she chooses. Everything about her is deceitful and distrustful, but she actually has a code of honour and even gives Sinbad her words as Goddess, which later becomes her downfall when he uses her own oath against her. Even then she doesn’t lash out or squash him like a bug (she almost does), but composes herself and admits defeat, shrugging it off as if it were nothing.
Which brings another interesting fact about the character, her plan is larger than life to the main characters, but it matters little to her in the long run. Her entire plan revolves around obtaining the Book of Peace and plunging the Southern Seas (and possibly the entire world) into chaos and disorder, but it’s not even a long term plan she’s been scheming for the past few centuries. She quite literally comes up with it on a whim and has everything planned out in a matter of hours.
And by the end of the film, what has she lost exactly?
True her entire plans goes up in smoke when Sinbad does take the prince’s place and she is forced to return the book, but even then she’s more furious about the fact she was outwitted by a mere thief, and mortal one at that. Beyond a personal blow to her pride, she quite gracefully accepts defeat and goes on her way, with no punishment and nothing stopping her from taking the rest of the evening off and trying again tomorrow. This one factor sets her apart from all the other villains on this list, she had nothing to lose and by the end of it lost nothing in the long run, besides three days, and as an immortal deity, I doubt that’s gonna be a big issue for her. There is nothing stopping her from causing chaos another day and most likely, she will continue to spread mayhem around the world until the day she finally succeeds.
Overall, for being the most powerful, deceitful and all around wonderfully drawn and animated character, Eris is my pick for DreamWorks best villain of all time (as of 2013).
“You humans are so predictable.” ~ Eris.