While Disney+ Brings Nostalgia, It Reminds Us We May Have Slept On One Particular Villain!
It’s been over a week, so the Disney+ memes have died down a little bit… you know, since most week-long trials of the ten million first-day subscribers has ended. Luckily, as a Verizon Wireless user, I’ve got another twelve months to binge. While Lizzie McGuire has been a go-too for gay millennials alike, I’m sure we’ve also found time to open Disney’s vault of animated classic films. You have an endless amount of options. Whether you’re rewatching Peter Pan or any of the princess films like The Little Mermaid, chances are you are reliving your favorite villains. While Ursula, Captain Hook, Jafar, and many more come across our minds as the ultimate baddie, I can’t help but feel we’ve slept on one particular Disney villain among them all!
In 1977, Disney released The Rescuers, a story about two detective mice (voiced by Bob Newhart and the delicious Eva Gabor) a part of the Rescue Aid Society who venture to find an orphaned girl who has sent a message in a bottle for requested help. The little girl, Penny (Michelle Stacy) was kidnapped by the evil Madame Medusa (pictured above and voiced by Geraldine Page) to find a rare diamond, the Devil’s Eye, located in a swamp in Louisiana bayou. Medusa is introduced as a vile, ruthless individual who has her bulging eyes set on nothing but riches. This may seem like a standard Disney villainous trait, but upon my rewatch, hear me out why Medusa is being slept on as the best of the worst when it comes to her peers.
Medusa, who was slightly modeled after the legendary actress, Lauren Bacall , Greek mythology’s Gorgon Medusa, and whose features would loosely inspire the aforementioned Mermaid’s Ursula, was originally written to be the one and only Cruella de Vil. At the time, Disney didn’t want to do any sequels, so they decided against the idea. You can see similarities between Medusa and Cruella as they are both maniacs behind an automobile and fly into bipolar fits of rage. Plus, have you seen her lewk? She looks like a drag queen who recognizes she’s had her singles stolen and fills the void with a pack of Newports and too much whiskey. But, manic temper tantrums and appearance don’t make her the most sinister, it’s her despicable actions that do.
During the film, Medusa carefully chooses to kidnap Penny after realizing she is the perfect size to be thrown into a well and fetch the Devil’s eye. After learning of Penny’s resistance, she scurries to the bayou and instills fear in the girl with the help of a foolish henchman and her two pet alligators. She tries to kill the mice with a shotgun, firing aimlessly, even hitting her sidekick. In the film’s climax, Medusa holds Penny’s dear teddy bear hostage as she throws her into the well. Don’t worry! She doesn’t mind if the girl dies – as long as she gets the diamond. When Penny makes claims of almost drowning, Medusa says she will drown if she doesn’t fetch the Devil’s Eye. It’s a pretty horrifying when you hear the intensity in her voice. If Penny dies, she’ll kidnap again – and again – she’s wicked. When Medusa’s wish finally comes true and Penny fetches the diamond – she turns her back on her sidekick and is abusive to her reptile pets. She doesn’t just betray them, she holds the child and her sidekick at gunpoint… then walks out with Penny’s treasured bear (which the diamond has been stitched into). Eventually, her plan is thwarted and we last see her as she is presumably about to be eaten by her alligators. Because you know, it’s Disney. The bad guy never wins unless you work in Hollywood, but not on screen.
Medusa may not have kept her stepdaughter prisoner, wanted to slay a hundred puppies, or control the sea, but she literally kidnapped and planned on murdering a child (and a grown aloof adult) in order to become more wealthy. And she would’ve done it again if she didn’t get her way! Why is she not being put on a pedestal in the Disney villain hall of… shame?!
Who is your favorite Disney villain?
Don’t forget to remind yourself of Medusa’s madness with a short clip below:
Writer’s Note: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.
H/T: Disney Fandom
Image via Walt Disney Home Entertainment