Sometime last summer I was watching the Beauty and the Beast Disney cartoon with my young cousins. For one thing, I’d forgotten how brutal it was, and another thing, I’d totally missed how ridiculous the Beast looked when he turned into a human. He looked like everyone’s least favorite hairy metal-rocker’s older brother who just couldn’t make it in the modeling business. As soon as that rad ball of furry terror turned human, I checked out: much less awesome.
This brought me back to how as a kid it wasn’t the typical heroes I idolized, but the villains that were just trying to be bad-asses in the face of a singsong, smiley world. I’d like to take a moment to honor the fallen dudes and dudettes who made evil look so friggin’ sweet.
First, let’s stick with Disney. It’s a well-known fact these bad guys each enjoyed a startlingly violent death; Scar got eaten alive; Ursula got fucked by a boat; Maleficent got a sword to the neck. And these are kids’ flicks. Out of all the villains here, though, one stood out as a total badass who deserved to plunge, chiseled-chin first, into a bottomless pit because nothing else would kill him: goddamn Gaston. This dude had it figured out before Belle went feminist all over his muscled face. Sure, he treated women like the animals he stuffed and put on the walls of his tricked-out hunting lodge, but at least he did it with class. And the guy had barges for biceps. He was pretty cool.
Another hero of mine when I was a whippersnapper was that baller Biff Tannen. He was a winner. First off, he made abject stupidity look badass (with his fists). You have to give him credit for that. And also, he nearly suffocated in a pile of steer shit and lived to fight another day (and call more people buttheads). We’ll always make like a leaf and get outta here for you, Biff.
Then there was Ivan Ooze from the Power Rangers movie. All he wanted to do was take over the world using giant, poorly rendered robot monsters. He had his reasons; Zordon (you know, that dude with the face) trapped my boy Ooze in an egg for a million years. He was owed at least one planet to cover in his weird ooze fluid stuff. Also, he made sure to make a funny quip before totally committing genocide.
Who remembers Visser Three from Animorphs? That shit was ridiculous. The first time you see him, he totally eats a super important character; just, like, bites him in half and goes to town on that shit. I have to give him props for doing that.
You know who else was badass? Angelica Pickles from Rugrats. I know what you’re thinking: there is nothing badass about the Rugrats. Wrong. Angelica was a conniving, double-crossing, twisted little child who would probably cut someone for a cookie. Straight up.
Of course, the best villain of all time is Darth Vader. I’m not talking Hayden Christenson’s whiny adaptation of cinema’s best badass, I’m talking about the same big daddy robot-man who force-choked all kinds of dudes, could stop lasers with his hand, had the voice of a regal African king (see Coming to America… that movie rules), and literally saved the entire universe. Vader still stands the test of time, however much he’s misquoted (he never says Luke; watch Empire again, or inconceivably for the first time, you poorly educated kids, you).
Oh, and a special mention to Jabba the Hutt. Sure, it was satisfying to watch the blubbery mess breath his last, but we all kind of wish we could feed people we mildly dislike to the Rancor (and have a personal jazz band full of aliens) and belly laugh while we watch. That’s class.