Disney villain twists seem to have become commonplace; Disney surprise villains are something audiences either roll their eyes at (*cough* The Lion King’s Scar *cough*), or express genuine shock towards. The latter has proven increasingly rare, not just in animated Pixar/Disney features, but in cinema as a whole. The best examples of this trope serve their respective characters' roles in the story without the reveal feeling like it came out of the blue.
The best villain reveals are less worried about the “surprise” factor and more concerned with the quality of the villain. Much like an iceberg, where 90% of it is underwater, only a small portion of the obstruction is visible until it’s too late.
In Monsters, Inc., a factory of skilled monsters venture into the human world to scare children and harvest their screams. However, energy production is falling because children just aren’t as fearful as they used to be. The CEO of the film’s eponymous company, Henry J. Waternoose III, seems like a perfectly good boss at first; Randall Boggs is presented as James P. "Sulley" Sullivan and Michael "Mike" Wazowski’s chief rival. Randall plans to use the “Scream Extractor” to extract screams from kidnapped children, thus solving the monster world’s energy crisis.
Halfway through the film, Sulley and Mike discover Randall’s plan and report him to Waternoose. It’s ultimately revealed that Waternoose is in on the scheme when, instead of sending Boo (Mike and Sulley’s human friend) home, he banishes our heroes to the Himalayas.Great reveal?
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Rourke Had The Missing Page All Along In 'Atlantis: The Lost Empire'Photo: Buena Vista Pictures
In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, linguist Milo Thatch joins an expedition to Atlantis to decipher “the Shepherd’s Journal,” which is a manuscript containing directions (among other things). Accompanying Milo is a group of adventurers, including Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke, who initially appears to be an admirable leader. At one point in the film, Milo reads through the journal and learns about the Heart of Atlantis, a giant, blue crystal that is the source of the power that saved Atlantis, before discovering there’s a page missing.
When the team finally locates the underwater city and learns more about the Heart of Atlantis in the ruins, they are stopped by Rourke and his armed team, the former turning out to be a manipulative mercenary who wants to sell the crystal on the black market. On top of that, it is revealed that Rourke has kept the journal’s missing page in his boot the entire time, having ripped the page out when Milo wasn’t looking.Great reveal?
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Dawn Bellwether Proves To Be A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing In 'Zootopia'
Dawn Bellwether is the assistant mayor of Zootopia. She’s sweet, cute, and good to everyone... or so we think. When Nick and Judy investigate predators going “savage” and reverting to a feral state, it’s revealed Bellwether has been dosing them to create panic, gain power, and essentially cause a "race" war. Her goal is to exact revenge on predators for walking all over prey and to prove that predators are inherently bad. This reveal happens near the end of the film when Nick and Judy encounter Bellwether at the Zootopia Natural History Museum. Judy questions how Bellwether knew of their whereabouts, prompting Bellwether to sic rams on them while the latter tries to convince Judy of the cause.
While we do see Bellwether being mistreated early on by Mayor Lionheart, her personality does a complete 180. Bellwether’s appearance as a seemingly meek sheep conceals her role as a “wolf” until the plot calls for it.Great reveal?
Coco follows aspiring young musician, Miguel, as he accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead. To get back to the Land of the Living, Miguel must get the blessing of a family member. However, Miguel’s deceased Mama Imelda has banned music from his family after his great-great-grandfather abandoned his wife and daughter to pursue a career as a musician. Imelda won’t give Miguel her blessing unless he gives up music when he returns to the Land of the Living.
Therefore, Miguel sets off to find the famous musician Ernesto de la Cruz, who he believes to be his great-great-grandfather due to a misinterpreted photograph. When Miguel sneaks into Ernesto’s mansion, it’s revealed that Ernesto’s former partner, Hector, is Miguel’s great-great-grandfather, Coco’s father, and was poisoned by Ernesto, who stole his music and guitar.Great reveal?