Our second topic in this epic battle is all about the villains! I’ll let Aaron lay out his case first with my rebuttal to follow. Then I’ll follow with my positive case for Frozen’s villain, and Aaron will have a chance at rebuttal. Let’s get to it!
Aaron – Tangled’s Villain
Knowing my opponent is a huge comic book/superhero movie fan, I think even Gene should appreciate the Deadpool of Disney villainy. In fact, I found a recipe for it somewh—
Ah! Here it is:
Ingredients of a Disney Super Villain:
- 16 years of Maleficent’s patient dedication and attention for a Disney princess.
- A dose of Jafar’s manipulation.
- A sprinkling of Ursula’s dramatic flair.
- An ounce of Scar’s willingness to murder.
- A quart of Gaston’s vanity (*add more, if you like).
Mix the above ingredients. Add in a bit of stepmother disdain (a la Cinderella and Snow White). Stir until the ingredients take shape. Garnish with sex appeal.
This is what the concoction will look like when it’s finished.
Mother Gothel – the true face of evil.
In fact, Disney’s creation of Gothel knocked villainy out of the park so much that no other princess film yet has even bothered to include a villain. Honestly, where do you turn after serving audiences a deep dish of Gothel?
But let’s examine the evidence, shall we:
First, Gothel kidnaps a royal baby, eludes a kingdom wide search without possessing any supernatural powers/strength/army, and then she raises Rapunzel without ever becoming emotionally attached.
I mean…how is that possible? Have you seen this face?
You love her already and you’ve only stared at that sweet, innocent angel for a couple of seconds!
Despite daily interaction with Rapunzel for near two decades, Gothel’s continual detachment speaks to her dedication and discipline for evil. Whether through flattery, seduction, or a domineering nature – Gothel proves capable of changing tactics on a dime. Wearing whatever mask she needs to accomplish her end goals.
Which brings me to another bit Disney excels at – creating awesome villain songs: Ursula’s throaty Poor Unfortunate Souls, Jafar’s literal undressing of Aladdin in Prince Ali, and Gaston’s utter arrogance in singing…uh…Gaston. What better way to reveal their evil intent than through song, right?
Now, before we go further, ask yourself this– what is the villain song in Frozen?
Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
Back already? Oh. That’s right. There isn’t one.
Tangled has two.
Gothel’s “Mother Knows Best” is so awesome Disney even gave her a second round to further flex her evil chops. And nowhere is her twisted, dark nature better revealed than in the reprise–
In that scene, Gothel could have gone the brutish Gaston route, taking Rapunzel captive and hauling her away. Instead, she uses circumstances to both manipulate Rapunzel into doubting Flynn’s intentions and strengthen her argument that the heroine should remain safe in the tower with her.
And when the jig is finally up and all else fails, Gothel resorts to violence – stabbing Flynn in the tower. Yet unlike other Disney villains who distance themselves via poison or curses, Gothel is the knife in the shadows – a cold-blooded killer who isn’t afraid to look her victim in the eye as she does the deed. Worse still? She doesn’t give Flynn a quick death. That would be too easy. Instead, Gothel stabs him in the belly and leaves him to bleed out.
What more could you want out of a villain?
How about a lesson, Aaron? I can hear my opponent whispering. What does Gothel teach our children?
Admittedly, this lesson is more for our sons than our daughters, but here it is:
Never trust a cougar, kids. Even if she is sexy as all get out.
Rebuttal by Gene
I must say, I’m a bit at a loss for words. I mean, if ever anyone has fallen directly into a trap, it’s Aaron. The very things which I will be citing as a weakness of Gothel, he takes to be strengths. Sure, she’s a bit like Jafar, a bit like Ursula, a bit like Gaston, a bit like every villain in princess lore. You know what that makes her? Unoriginal! Is there any safer move then to take some of the best bits from every villain in the past 40 years and roll them into one? There’s a phrase that might describe that pretty well: “Been there, done that”.
Now, when a foe falls into a trap in their leading argument, the polite thing to do would be to stop and let them lick their wounds… Naahhhh!
Moving on, Aaron would have you believe that Gothel is such an epic villain that no princess movies since then have even tried to have a villain. None in the entire 4 1/2 years since its release…
But of course, that’s not even true. Hans is the clear-cut villain in Frozen as I will plainly point out. Aaron also must have missed a certain curly-haired, ginger princess named Merida who faced her villain, Mor’du, in 2012’s Brave. And if we wanted to branch out a bit I could even say that King Candy from 2012’s Wreck-it-Ralph was the villain against Princess Vanellope. So that actually makes three villains since Gothel allegedly set the standard of being an exact replica of specific parts of every other Disney villain.
Aaron also believes that being able to sing makes Gothel evermore wicked. I haven’t the slightest idea how that makes any sense or how it could possibly increase her evil tendencies. But since he brought it up, how in the world does she even know that song to sing to the flower, then to Rapunzel, which will make her grow younger? #NeverMindThat
Finally, Aaron gets to perhaps the only decent point in his entire argument. The closeness with which Gothel was willing to get when she finally resorted to killing Flynn. She looked him right in the eye, stabbed him, and let him die. She’s so close it almost reminds me of another time I remember the villain getting so close to the hero they are letting die…
Gene – Frozen’s Villain
How does one determine the value of a Disney villain? Is it just a silly question, or are there some specific identifiers we can look for which might be more valuable than others? And when we say valuable, valuable to whom? Children are the primary audience for Disney films. Children are also pretty good at identifying the bad guy all on their own. So don’t you think a film where the villain wasn’t so glaringly obvious might be a good teaching moment for our youngsters? You do? Me too!
Face it, most Disney villains are really just slight variations of the same mold. Take a look for yourself…
Who WOULDN’T immediately identify these people as the villain? So what is a child to learn from this? Stay away from the next person lingering in the shadows with a sinister laugh and a grossly disproportionate and devious smile? Rrright. You may have noticed a certain non-aging, fake mother in the above lineup. That’s because the villain in Tangled, just like the love story in Tangled, fits squarely in the ‘been there done that’ category when compared to all other princess tales.
All others but the unpredictable and groundbreaking Frozen, that is. Consider the above collage of infamous villains, and now take a look at Frozen’s Hans…
With Hans, Frozen succeeds in doing something that no other Disney villain accomplished; the audience is rooting for him for a majority of the movie! That’s a solid feat in itself, but this is also where the lesson comes in for all the kiddos watching. Hans does what real life bad guys do: They don’t look like bad guys. Adults in the audience are surely suspect of a marriage proposal after one day, but for children this is typical fairy tale stuff. By the end of the story when Hans’ motives are clear and the lengths to which he’ll go to accomplish that is evident, they’ve learned a valuable lesson: Never judge a book by its cover. We often use that line to find the good in people, but it’s equally applicable in learning not to assume everyone has your best interests in mind. If there’s one thing I would want my daughter to have in mind as she begins to get googley-eyed for boys is to be patient and learn about the character of the boy before declaring him the love of your life after one date. That lesson is on full-display through Anna’s error in judgment.
One final point I’d like to make as to why Hans is the superior villain, and that is regarding his motives and means. Both Hans and Mother Gothel were pretending to be someone they weren’t, but think about Gothel’s end game. She wanted to stay young. That was it. She didn’t want power or riches or fame, just youth. Her plan to accomplish this was to keep Rapunzel to herself forever. Now I don’t mean to make light of kidnapping, but it’s not as though her original plan involved killing anyone. That is not the case with Hans. In his scheme he would secure his royalty in Arendelle by marrying Anna, then perpetrating a fatal accident for both her and Elsa. Hans’ end game doesn’t involve the simple seclusion of one person for his own private benefit. He plans to murder two women all to have a kingdom of his own!
The scope of Hans’ goal is larger, the means by which he intends to meet that goal are deadlier, and the lesson that his character teaches the audience is more valuable in that he doesn’t actually look like the bad guy until the reveal scene when he leaves Anna for dead. There are a lot of ways to consider whether one villain is more dastardly than another, but in some very major ways Hans takes the cake over Gothel every time.
Rebuttal by Aaron
Let’s examine the “villainy” of Hans, shall we?
His diabolical plan: Take over the kingdom by wooing/marrying the younger sister – (who ran into him rather than through any devious ploy of his own).
Brilliant. I mean it makes sense for a villain to plan such an act that:
A) Needs the approval of the queen (which Hans doesn’t get).
B) Next requires a way of killing Elsa (Good luck. She’s left her room exactly once since she was a little girl).
C) And only then could Hans co-rule with Anna.
But fortune favors Wonder Villain when our two heroines take themselves out of the picture (rather than through any Hans plot) and everything he wanted falls in his lap. Naturally, he then proceeds to wreck havoc upon Arendelle! To let his villain flag fly—
You say unlike the two sisters who abandoned their people, Hans gives them warm blankets and ensures they’re cared for?
“But he turns, Aaron!” Gene will cry when he reads this. “Reveals his true nature to Anna instead of saving her.”
Yes. Hans admits he never loved her. The jerk!
Luckily, everything falls into Hans’s lap a second time. He has both princesses right where he wants them:
A) Elsa in chains (why didn’t he let the Weasel Town assassin kill her with the crossbow?)
B) Anna dying of a frozen heart (which he didn’t inflict upon her. Also, if Anna dies, where is it written Hans inherits the kingdom rather than a cousin, or something? Wouldn’t it be better to keep up the act, marry the girl, and then kill her off?)
His master plan concludes with this decision – attack a crazed girl who bends the elements to her will with a measly sword.
Since we’re discussing villains, I think it only fair to quote one of the most evil geniuses of all time. This is how I sum up Hans:
“You’re quasi-evil. You’re semi-evil. You’re the margarine of evil. You’re the Diet Coke of evil – just one calorie. Not evil enough.”
This wraps up our dealings with the villains. We’d love to get your feedback on who made the better arguments here. Vote in the poll below for who has the better villain, Frozen or Tangled.