MAD, BAD & BEWITCHING

Fan­tasy’s evil women are grow­ing ever more com­plex and in­trigu­ing, writes Dun­can Lay

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

1 MALEF­I­CENT: SLEEP­ING BEAUTY / MALEF­I­CENT / MALEF­I­CENT: MIS­TRESS OF EVIL

A vil­lain so good that she has been rein­vented as a hero of the down­trod­den and marginalis­ed fairy folk. She started out pure evil in the orig­i­nal Dis­ney film then proved to be se­cretly good in the 2014 re-imag­in­ing al­though things get com­pli­cated again in her lat­est out­ing. There’s prob­a­bly no truth to the ru­mour that An­gelina Jolie came up with the idea of the wings and the horns af­ter see­ing a pic­ture of her­self drawn by Jen­nifer Aniston over the whole Brad Pitt thing.

Once upon a time in fan­tasy land movie plots, we loved the good­ies and hated the bad­dies who, prefer­ably, had a nasty mous­tache to twirl. But just as times have changed off the screen so they have in fan­tasy sto­ries and so we are see­ing the rise and rise of the fe­male vil­lain.

And these are no oned­i­men­sional car­toon bad­dies.

The car­toon spin­dle-wield­ing evil fairy from Dis­ney’s 1959 orig­i­nal was re­vealed as a far more com­plex, and even tragic char­ac­ter, in its 2014 re-imag­in­ing, Malef­i­cent, star­ring An­gelina Jolie. And if its se­quel Malef­i­cent: Mis­tress Of Evil opened to mixed re­views this week, all agree Jolie’s mag­nif­i­cent dark god­mother dom­i­nates the tale’s tra­di­tional hero­ine pretty Princess Aurora.

Then we have Har­ley Quinn, for­merly a side­kick for Bat­man’s vil­lain The Joker. Mar­got Rob­bie al­most saved the widely panned Sui­cide Squad (2014) and was so good she has in­spired two more movies fea­tur­ing Quinn in Birds Of Prey sched­uled for early 2020 and a re­booted Sui­cide Squad, ex­pected to be re­leased in 2021.

Then we come to Cat­woman. Lit­tle Big Lies star Zoe Kravitz has just been cast in the lat­est Bat­man movie op­po­site Robert Pat­tin­son and so we’ll have to wait to see whether she is se­cretly on the Bat­man’s side, as Anne Hath­away’s Cat­woman was in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Or will she be evil like Eartha Kitt’s 1960s ver­sion or just bad, like Halle Berry’s failed 2004 of­fer­ing in Cat­woman.

Ap­par­ently it doesn’t mat­ter — we love a fe­male vil­lain any­way. With that in mind, In­sider counts down its top 10 fe­male fan­tasy vil­lains.

10 MYS­TIQUE: THE X-MEN MOVIES

This shapeshift­ing X-Men char­ac­ter started out very bad as por­trayed by Re­becca Romijn. But the lines be­gan to blur as she helped out the he­roes in X-Men 2 — then turned on them. Things be­came even more com­pli­cated in the pre­quel movies when Jen­nifer Lawrence took over. She was good, she was fated to be bad, then she was good again … but, re­gard­less of whether she was good, bad or just

naughty, you couldn’t take your eyes off her.

9 SERLEENA: MEN IN BLACK II

She was a sen­tient plant who turned her­self into a lin­gerie model — as you do — and then tried to de­stroy the galaxy. She summed up Earth beau­ti­fully when she said: “Silly lit­tle planet. I could rule the place with the right set of mam­mary glands”. She was in so many ways a huge step up from the gi­ant cock­roach they bat­tled in the first movie.

8 DOLORES UMBRIDGE: HARRY POT­TER SE­RIES

Volde­mort might be the main pro­tag­o­nist for Harry Pot­ter but who can for­get Umbridge, a woman who shows how truly evil pink cardi­gans and fluffy kit­tens can be. Volde­mort was evil be­cause he wanted power. Umbridge was evil be­cause she en­joyed it — just like a cat. It just goes to show there is noth­ing more ter­ri­ble than a pen-pusher with power.

7 UR­SULA THE SEA WITCH: THE LIT­TLE MER­MAID

When she wasn’t con­jur­ing up storms to kill sailors, she was mak­ing deals with in­no­cent lit­tle mer­maids, to hand over a set of legs in ex­change for a voice. Not only was she a mem­o­rable vil­lain, she also in­spired the en­tire pay­day lender sec­tor.

6 HAR­LEY QUINN: SUI­CIDE SQUAD/ AD/ BIRDS OF PREY

Who would have thought the side­kick of The Joker could not only be the best thing about the woe­ful Sui­cide Squad but get her own show, plus in­spire a re­boot of the orig­i­nal? Mar­got Rob­bie was fan­tas­tic as the de­ranged Quinn with the help of the most fa­mous span­gly skintight shorts since Kylie Minogue had our heads Spin­ning Around.

5 WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST: THE WIZ­ARD OF OZ

Not only did she rock the green make-up, she made the clas­sic movie Wiz­ard Of Oz. Sure, the songs and char­ac­ters were fun but you can’t en­joy them with­out the dark spell she casts over the film. And who doesn’t se­cretly love some­one with an army of fly­ing mon­keys?

4 BELLATRIX LESTRANGE: HARRY POT­TER SE­RIES

Umbridge tor­tured peo­ple. Bellatrix killed them for fun. If it wasn’t bad enough that she killed Sir­ius Black, she also fin­ished off Dobby, the heroic house elf. Thank­fully, in a scene that echoed Ellen Ri­p­ley chal­leng­ing the Alien Queen in Aliens, she was taken out by Mrs Weasley. Sadly, un­like the Alien Queen, she didn’t have acid for blood.

3 HELA: THOR RAG­NAROK

The early Thor movies had so much testos­terone, they were banned from run­ning at the Olympics. Then along came Hela in the sul­try form of Cate Blanchett to slaugh­ter most of the mi­nor char­ac­ters from the first two movies and re­store the bal­ance. She’s vi­cious, vin­dic­tive and blood­thirsty but looks fab­u­lous do­ing so.

2 CRUELLA DE VIL: 101 DAL­MA­TIANS

Who was worse? The car­toon ver­sion or the Glenn Close live-ac­tion ver­sion? Well, if you’re a dal­ma­tian about to be turned into a coat, you prob­a­bly don’t care much ei­ther way. These days she’d prob­a­bly use cavoo­dles or sim­i­lar as they have ac­tual fur, in­stead of dog hair. But 101 Cavoo­dles sounds more like what you’d see in­side a Bondi cof­fee shop.

HAR­LEY QUINN

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