(For Part One, go here.)
People have been talking about Maleficent as a story about “redemption.” And, I think, well…maybe? Sort of? At one point, she recognizes that her hatred and revenge have resulted in losing someone she loves, which she clearly regrets. And she is willing to risk her own life to save Aurora.
But I still felt that the story was missing…something.
To figure out what it was, I went to three of my favorite tragic villains to see why their stories resonated with me more than Maleficent’s.
Dr. Horrible, from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
Character: An evil villain everyman who just wants to be a success and win his dream girl away from an arrogant, sleazy superhero.
Redemption: Doesn’t really take place here. Dr. Horrible may want to conquer the world to set things right, but if we’re still cheering for him by the end, it’s because we remember the awkwardly adorable guy he once was.
Consequences of Actions: I won’t go into detail here, but there’s the reason this miniseries calls itself a “tragicomedy”: the ending is tragic. There have been lots of songs that include lines about getting everything you ever wanted and realizing it doesn’t satisfy. But the last song of the musical, “Everything You Ever” is haunting because it doesn’t ever even finish that phrase. The chorus just drops off: “Everything you ever…” And it makes you ask, Did you want it, really? Was it worth it? Would you go back and change it if you could? And as the audience, of course we want a different ending, but it’s the only thing that could have happened. In some movies, we root for the person trying to get revenge (*cough* Princess Bride), but with Dr. Horrible, we see what happens to even a likeable guy who is consumed with vengeance and ambition.
Where it Beats Maleficent: Depiction of real consequences of doing evil things. Unlike Dr. Horrible, Maleficent never had to face any lasting consequences of her (actually really awful) actions. Instead, she got the perfect happy ending of many Disney princesses, and it just didn’t feel right or, maybe more to the point, realistic.