Protagonists like Buzz Lightyear, WALL-E, and Nemo all have stories we know and love, having been the primary focus of Pixar films over the years. But how about those Pixar villain origin stories? After all, they say a story is only as good as its antagonist, and Pixar has had some great baddies we've loved to hate since the studio burst onto the scene in 1995 with Toy Story.
And while villains like Ratatouille's Skinner and Coco's Ernesto de la Cruz have basically zero redeeming qualities whatsoever, Pixar has also given us a few villains we can't help but feel a bit sorry for from time to time. Syndrome idolized Mr. Incredible as a kid only to be rejected by his hero in the end. Lotso ended up being unceremoniously replaced after being accidentally abandoned at a picnic. Stinky Pete was left to collect dust on shelves for literal decades. We don't always see eye-to-eye with Pixar villains, but sometimes we can sympathize with their plight.
- Photo: Toy Story 3 / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Lotso, the villainous bear from Toy Story 3, is not exactly the most beloved character in the Pixar canon. In fact, it's hard not to feel a sense of satisfaction when he gets strapped to the grill of a truck at the end of the movie. After everything he put our beloved toys through? And all the other countless toys before that? That strawberry-scented bear got what he deserved.
But that doesn't mean his backstory isn't tragic. After being accidentally left behind on a picnic by his original owner Daisy, Lotso and Daisy's other toys Big Baby and Chuckles trekked all the way back to her house, only to see that Lotso had been replaced by another Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear. Well, this sparked an angry fire in that pink bear, and Daisy's betrayal changed him into the kind of toy that would deliberately cause harm to others in order to get what he wants. Lotso's origin is an interesting corollary to Jessie's from Toy Story 2; both backstories do a solid job of highlighting the deep traumas such a betrayal can cause in one's life.Tragic backstory?
- Photo: Ratatouille / Buena Vista Pictures
With a name like "Anton Ego," it's not surprising this food critic ended up being one of the primary antagonists in 2007's Ratatouille. That's a name that just screams, "I'm a self-entitled villain!" And though Ego clearly reveled in coming down hard on restaurants in his vocation - his writing room is shaped like a coffin, after all - by the end of the film, he ends up remembering what began his love affair with food in the first place.
Ego is a great example of a well-done film villain. For much of the runtime, he's a scary figure who can ruin the reputation of a restaurant with his pen. By the end, he ends up investing in a restaurant with Remy and Linguini, and the audience has genuinely seen his demeanor change over time. He begins the film by claiming, "I... take cooking seriously, and no, I don't think anyone can do it." But by the end, his attitude has changed as he states, "Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere."Tragic backstory?
Evelyn Deavor Was A True Childhood Believer In Superheroes, But Lost Her Faith When Her Parents DiedPhoto: Incredibles 2 / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It's hard not to wonder what Evelyn Deavor would've done with her life had she not turned to supervillainy and terrorism in Incredibles 2. While her brother Winston Deavor is clearly a nice guy, Evelyn is the obvious brains behind their company, DevTech. All those brains and she had to use them for evil. Well, with a name like Evelyn Deavor (cough, cough... evil endeavor) it seemed inevitable.
When Evelyn and Winston were kids, burglars broke into their family home one night. Even though the Deavors had a safe room - and this is the exact situation in which a safe room comes in handy - their father decided it would be a good idea to call superheroes Gazerbeam and Fironic for help. That help never arrived and Mr. Deavor was fatally shot. Shortly after, Evelyn and Winston's mother died from heartbreak, leaving them all alone. This loss marked the siblings for life, but Evelyn used it as fuel to become the mastermind behind Screenslaver.Tragic backstory?
Stinky Pete Was A Lonely Toy Who Sat On A Shelf, Perpetually UnopenedPhoto: Toy Story 2 / Buena Vista Pictures
Was Stinky Pete a selfish dude? Did Stinky Pete nearly doom Woody to a sterile life lived in the confines of the Konishi Toy Museum? Was Stinky Pete a complete and total creep? Yes, yes, and yes. And no one would ever defend this smelly, old prospector or his devious machinations in Toy Story 2. But if you take a second to think about his background, the reasoning for his petulant attitude and selfish ways begins to come into focus.
Pete spent the majority of his life stuck inside a box on a dime-store shelf, waiting to be bought by a child who wanted to play with him. Eventually, adult collector Al bought him as he tried to complete a Woody's Roundup collection to sell off for big money. Can you imagine being stuck in a box, year after year, just wanting to be loved by a kid? Even Bubble Boy got out to explore the world, and he was born without an immune system. Solitary confinement is enough to drive the sanest man crazy.Tragic backstory?