Guess what, readers? GUESS WHAT?!
This is my 300th post!
*fhooooooot!* (That’s a trumpet. I think I deserve a fanfare.)
And I figure, what better way to celebrate 300 posts of my random nonsense than with another round of my personal favourite segment?
That’s right, folks, it’s time for a very special: Why I Love That Bad Guy!
As a reminder to some of my newer followers, you can click on the tab up top to read all about some of my beloved bad guys, with information on their origins, their best features, their worst qualities and more.
Today, I’m looking at not one, not two, but thirteen bad guys — I’m talking those classic, child-friendly figures of evil, the Pixar Villains.
I won’t go in-depth for the whole baker’s dozen; instead, I’m going to rank them in order of delicious evil-ness, then properly examine Number One.
But first, to clarify for those of you who aren’t as obsessed with children’s films as I am, here are the thirteen currently existing Pixar films in order of their release (with the exception of Monsters University, which, being the latest film, will be excluded so as to avoid spoilers for those who’ve yet to see it):
- Toy Story
- A Bug’s Life
- Toy Story 2
- Monsters Inc.
- Finding Nemo
- The Incredibles
- Toy Story 3
- Cars 2
And now, ranked from “Pretty Cool” to “Sweet Lord, What A Fantastically Evil Piece Of Animatronic Imaging“, are those Pixar Villains…
Chick Hicks is the racing rival to protagonist, Lightning McQueen. He is arrogant, sleazy and overall unlikeable. However, he is absent for much of the movie (and doesn’t even feature on the character list of Pixar.com). He serves only the minor purpose of spurring our hero to be the best he can be, and provides a comparison for the race car McQueen could have turned into, if not for his inspiring adventures in Radiator Springs. For these reasons, Chick Hicks crosses the finish line in last place.
Skinner, who took control of Gusteau’s Restaurant when the old chef passed away without an heir, is a short-stocked, sadistic, and somewhat soulless chef, seeking wealth above all else. Causing trouble for our beloved heroes — Remy the rat, and Linguini the garbage boy — instantly paints Skinner as the villain in this rather odd Pixar film, but his distaste for the protagonist is, to some degree, understandable. I mean… it’s a rat. In a kitchen. Touching food. An adorable rat, yes. A talented chef, indeed. But he’s a rat. And so Skinner is plated up in position 12.
Darla, the wild-eyed, metal-mouthed niece of the Dentist at 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney, gets some extra points for her fantastic entrances, beautifully accompanied by classic Psycho violins. But at the end of the day, she is still just a child — terrifying for fish who fear death by bag-shaking, but not so much for the viewers. Thus, she doesn’t crack the Top Ten. Besides, this is a list for evil villains! Can a child really be considered evil?
The answer to that question: yes. Sid, the next-door neighbour of imaginative and lovable Andy, is… well. Rather demonic. His love for explosives and his sadism in “Frankensteining” his toys is disturbing to the extreme. But what is truly creepy is the fact that we all knew a kid like Sid. He is hyperbolised, certainly, but there was always that one child who broke all their toys in record time and created insanely violent games whilst laughing maniacally. For this reason, Sid steals (and then destroys) spot Number 10.
Professor Z is a parody of your typical Bond-villain, from his sinister “take-over-the-world”-style plots to that damn-classy monocle. Need I say more? No, but I will. While the Professor is revealed not to be the driving force (see what I did there?) behind the racing disasters, he nonetheless stands out as a villain due to his carefully handled stereotypes — namely, his monologuing, and the fact that he sets his nemeses up to die, and then he
walks drives away. Oh, you loveable fool. You deserve to park in position 9.
Beating out the previous five worthy villains is… a steering wheel. But for good reason! With your average villain, there is a microcosm of humanity, and thus there may be an opportunity for the protagonist to appeal to their good morals, or to out-and-out redeem the antagonist in the ultimate deed of heroism. Not so with a machine. Auto is basically GLaDOS’ cousin — lacking in any human emotions, focussed solely on its programmed purpose of directing the ship, and no longer willing to relinquish control to the humans beneath it. It is this eerie lack of human reasoning that wins Auto spot Number 8.
If we were to judge from the pictures alone, Mor-du would be higher on the list. He is a realistic threat — as a malicious bear, of course. Not as a, you know… demonic beast that was once an ancient and accursed warrior — and thus is the first Pixar villain in the list that may strike legitimate fear into the hearts of his viewers. Ursaphobia is a real thing, guys. However, as we see throughout the course of the film, Mor-du has merely been overcome by the natural instincts of his bear-form, and nods with respect after being defeated. Overall, he is scary and dangerous, but not consciously evil enough for a higher ranking.
From one villainous bear to another, the delightfully fluffy Lotso-o’-Huggin’ Bear actually wins out against his Scottish cousin. Ahh, Pixar… Only here could it possibly make sense for a pink plush toy to be more of a bad-ass than an 11-foot tall demon bear. As we watch Lotso shuffle on screen with the support of a walking cane, he appears cuddly and loveable — thus making his betrayal all the more sinister. Adding to his likeability as a villain is his backstory; he is not bad for the hell of it; he is bad because of past experiences. And don’t we all love a vaguely sympathetic villain?
From one toy to another, The Prospector, Stinky Pete, brings us into our Top Five. Like Lotso, a great deal of Pete’s detestability come from betrayal — he is set up in the role of the loveable father-figure or the wise grandfather, thus making his ultimate reveal as a villain all the more powerful. And, like Lotso, we may be made to sympathise with the plight of this complex, tortured bad guy. In fact, Lotso and the Prospector fought fiercely for the Fifth Spot on the list; ultimately, Pete won out, because he’s… not pink. Also, he carries a weapon. Point: Pete.
Stepping back into the realm of “realism”, Villain Number 4 is a human character: Charles F. Muntz, the adored hero of Carl Fredricksen — and don’t we just love it when heroes fall? When his scientific discoveries were discredited, this grand adventurer returned to the remote jungles of South America, vowing to return with a live specimen… But was slowly driven mad by the impossible quest. This insanity oozes from the man, making him a delight to watch; and, unlike so many other Pixar bad guys, Charles dies a worthy, villainous death — plunging from his own blimp into a cloudy nothingness, and landing squarely in Spot Four.
When it comes to interesting backstories, Buddy — a.k.a. Syndrome — takes the cake. He was Mr Incredible’s self-acclaimed “biggest fan”, and thus was crushed when his hero rebuked him and turned him away. Filled with rage, the young boy started on a new path, determined to show that superheroes could exist without the need for special powers… And he did this by becoming a supervillain. Genius! Intelligent, cunning, and just a little bit nuts, Syndrome deftly brings us into our Top Three.
In design alone, the serpentine Randall is deliciously unnerving. This swift, slithering, oft-invisible fiend is the archrival of our heroes, Mike and Sulley, but becomes more sinister over the course of the film. Yet whether he is merely trying to lift his scare-numbers, or seeking to kidnap children to solve the energy crisis, Randall is consistently arrogant, smooth-talking, and downright creepy. He steps straight from our closets and into our Runner-Up position. But he is not, in my eyes, the top Pixar villain.
History: Hopper is the feared leader of a vicious gang of grasshoppers who, at the start of each season, take the food harvested by a hard-working colony of ants. He, alone, understands that the ants are not to be under-estimated — that individually they are weak, but united, they outnumber his grasshoppers 100 to 1. Ultimately, the ant colony also realises this, and Hopper and his gang are defeated.
Why I Love Him:
- Like so many great villains before him (Peter Pan’s Hook, Batman’s Joker, The Lion King‘s Scar, and so on and so forth), Hopper sports evidence of old hardships — in this case, it is a scar on his clouded and unseeing right eye, following a bird attack. And isn’t there just something a little bit sexy about scars? (…And isn’t there something just a little bit weird about describing an animated grasshopper as “sexy”…?)
- He sounds like a motorcycle when he flies. I love motorcycles.
- He has a complicated, yet rather adorable, relationship with little brother, Molt. Their interactions add a mild and intriguing softness to the violent character.
- He was the first (and remains as one of the few) Pixar villains to die in the course of the film. Hooray for milestones!
- He is intelligent, cunning, and gives wonderfully menacing monologues.
- His intimidation techniques are not overtly violent, but rather are calm and cruel. Shivers…
I’d Love Him More If…
- …there was a touch more softness between him and his brother. Obsessive fans like me can read between the lines to try and find the brotherly affection, but an explicitly closer relationship would have been precious.
- …he hadn’t died. I know, I know. I just said that I loved his death — that it was a memorable and fitting demise — but that doesn’t mean I can’t mourn!
Hopper: “I swear, if I hadn’t promised Mother on her deathbed that I wouldn’t kill you, I would kill you.”
Molt: “And believe me, no one appreciates that more than I do.”
Hopper: “Shut up! I don’t want to hear another word out of you while we’re on this island. Do you understand me?”
Hopper: “I said do you understand me?!”
Molt: “Well, how can I answer? You said I couldn’t say another word!”
[Hopper raises his fist to hit him]
Molt: “Argh! Remember Ma!”
Hopper: “First rule of leadership: Everything is your fault.”
Interesting Fact About Hopper:
While Hopper was ultimately voiced (brilliantly) by Kevin Spacey, the director’s first choice was Robert de Niro, who turned the role down on several occasions.
- Love The Bad Guy
Images taken from Pixar.com