On today's episode of Disney refusing to develop any new IP, another cartoon villain is getting the Maleficent treatment with a feature film dedicated to their gut-wrenching backstory -- none other than the cruel devil herself, 101 Dalmation's Cruella de Vil. First announced back in 2011 and slated for a May 2021 release, the trailer for the film dropped earlier today, featuring Emma Stone in what some are dubbing a "punk-rock" take the evil fashionista.
"The thing is, I was born brilliant, born bad, and a little bit mad" Says a dual-tone wig-clad Stone, over clips of de Vil's villainous activities. "I'm Cruella."
As fans flocked to Twitter to commend the trailer's exquisite framing ...
... commending Disney for taking cues from DC ...
... or comparing our antagonist-turned-protagonist to the OG live-action de Vil -- as RuPaul's Drag Race UK contestant, Joe Black, once said "Glenn Close but no cigar" ...
Amid the fanfare of the film, it seems we all conveniently forgot that de Vil is an aspiring puppy-murderer, who attempts to axe and skin adorable dalmations to create a fur coat. Now, I love a good antihero flick as much as the next pop culture writer, excited to delve into the on-screen explanation of a famous foe's motives. Villains aren't usually evil for the sake of it, regardless of how one-dimensional their performance may seem in their respective IP home. The psychology behind the "why" is always fascinating, providing further context to glossed-over rationales. While some villains like the aeformeitoned Malificent may provide intriguing fodder for this type of exposition -- her reasoning for sending the Princess into an alarming, albeit easily-breakable slumber was the kingdom encroaching on her forest -- kidnapping and attempting to murder 97-99 puppies for their fur, the number depending on the on-screen iteration, is arguably impossible to justify, a sentiment several social media users seemed to echo following the trailer's release.
"That lady wanted to mass murder 101 puppies and wear their carcasses as a coat when she had hella coats already I'm sorry Disney you can't 'misunderstood antihero' your way out of that one," mused user @DragonflyJonez.
"why are they giving cruella an edgy backstory she literally wanted to make a coat out of puppies," asked @horrifichymns.
"I don't need to care about Cruella's 'origin', wrote @dyemooch. "She hates and wants to skin puppies- she's not a character I need or want to care about. Talk to me when you wanna explore Ursula's origin; then I'll be excited for it."
As a longtime Disney fan, who loves the animated and live-action versions of 101 Dalmations, I have to say the above netizens are pretty spot on. No villain, except perhaps Gru from 2010's Desipcable Me, is evil simply for the hell of it, but Cruella, with her penchant for murdering puppies, is pretty up there, a literal characature of treachery, as implied through her name, a play on the term "Cruel Devil." Animal cruelty is an unwavering core of de Vil's identity, as opposed to say Batman-bad-girl-turned-protagonist, Harley Quinn, who exists in various iteraterions with different canonical backstories and plot points within her DC appearances, Sure, de Vil's fashion, with its color-blocked shapes is absolutely incredible, especially Anthony Powell's designs for Glenn Close in the 1996 reboot, but it pales in comparison to her vile behaviors. Even to the biggest fashionistas or Disney villain fans, frivolously attempting to slay cute animals is an impossible pill to swallow.
But hey, Disney has managed to do the impossible before ... we'll have to wait and see what Stone and the ever-growing corporation bring to the big screen. To paraphrase her eponymous theme song, If she can't scare us, I guess no evil thing will.