I haven’t posted in this section for a while, so I thought I would add my undoubtedly long-awaited list of favourite male characters. I should probably say from the outset that I don’t have a thing for bad boys, and I’m not condoning the behaviour of any of these chaps, but each of them have made an impression over the usual Disney “Kens”. I’m looking at you, Eric, Phillip, Smith, Hercules…meh, let’s get on with the list before I fall asleep.
#5: Aladdin/Flynn Rider
I’ve tied these two because I like them for the same reason – both grew up penniless orphans who became thieves, but in spite of their crappy predicaments, they never whinge about it, not once. Flynn is the only one who openly mentions it, but he’s quick to avoid such a “downer” of a tale. Aladdin, on the other hand, has perfected the skill of larceny and guard evasion to the point that it feels like a theme park ride and seems fairly content in his surroundings. The only difference is that Aladdin uses his skills to help other people at the bottom of the food chain, like the orphaned children, whereas Flynn utterly fleeces his fellow thieves. In the end, Aladdin and Flynn both renounce their illegal hobbies and become better people, but then stealing isn’t really necessary once you’re hitched to a princess.
#4: Prince Naveen
Film: The Princess and the Frog
Naveen is the opposite of the above, in that he’s had everything handed to him on a plate all his life, and then when it’s taken away he has no idea what to do. And then he gets turned into a frog. Fortunately, this doesn’t stop him from looking on the bright side, and he takes every opportunity to have fun, albeit with his royal entourage, the local townspeople, or other frogs and fireflies, making sure they all join in the party. When you drill down deeper, however, you find a young prince who is pretty embarrassed and bemused that he has never learnt how to take care of himself, and he grabs the bull by the horns when this is pointed out to him. Well, in so far as he tries to chop his own vegetables, but it’s a start, and he becomes more sensible and responsible without losing any of his happy-go-lucky nature, which is why he stands out to me. Plus, I’m a sucker for the French accent.
If you are under the age of 5 you will probably find Kerchak terrifying (if you are, kudos for being able to read this), and there’s no doubt he has a temper when pressed. However, his roaring tantrums seem to be his way of processing new information, like a noisy loading screen, as afterwards he usually approaches any problem with a different mindset, albeit allowing Kala to keep her newfound baby, or deciding not to obliterate or banish Tarzan for betraying his word and leading hunters into their midst. He does have the best interests of his family at heart, and it turns out he was right all along – adopting Tarzan only lead to a lot of trouble for his troop. But, being a protector through and through, Kerchak does eventually accept Tarzan as his son and fights for him. Unfortunately, a tantrum followed by reasoned argument is no match for an explosion followed by shotgun shrapnel.
#2: Judge Claude Frollo
Yes, this was who I was referring to earlier on. I’ve picked Frollo for this list because he’s no doubt one of the most memorable Disney characters ever, not only because of his despicable acts, but because of the lack of motive and evil powers or abilities that some of the other villains have. Frollo is an identifiable bad guy that you hear about all too often in the real world, even today, who carries himself with dignity and has no problem in justifying his crimes. On top of this, he’s in a position of authority, and as Esmeralda points out, he is the person people are supposed to turn to when they need help. To make him even more appealing, Disney have made him a victim of his own lust. If you can find me a worse combination, I’d like to hear it. Actually, no I wouldn’t.
Face it, when someone mentions this film, this is the first guy you think of, not the titular hero. Villains are generally the more interesting characters, so when you have a villain that’s also honourable, they’re even more so. For instance, he’s probably the only bad guy who keeps his side of a bargain, sometimes pointlessly (or idiotically) so, and in spite of his actions, he’s just doing his job and trying to get a promotion. It only looks bad because in this case it requires despicable things such as attempted infanticide, sending natural disasters all over the world and usurping the ruler of the cosmos. Um, well, at least there are no hard feelings when it fails, and he is also open to a more diplomatic approach, such as the sexy-lady diversion or waiting another few thousand years before trying again. Basically, unlike most other Disney bad guys, Hades doesn’t always go for the most severe option to get what he wants. And, unlike other Disney bad guys, he’s voiced by the awesome James Woods. Which makes him the clear winner regardless.
Thanks again for indulging me with another non-comparison post. Are there any chaps you would like to see on this list?