Never say never, but I don’t plan on watching Sleeping Beauty again. I like “Once Upon a Dream,” but it’s hard to connect with the story. Aurora has 18 lines. It’s mostly about the prince and fairies. Not my favorite movie. But I am willing to watch Disney’s Maleficent again—a hero and villain at once? Sign me up.
When Maleficent’s childhood friend betrays her for the sake of power, she retaliates by cursing his infant daughter with a sleep like death. However, she grows fond of the child as she grows, and must fight to find a way to reverse her own curse.
WBI ProfileClassification :: Ξ01278!#*@
Role :: Avenger (punishing Stefan)
Motivation :: chaos (dissolving the Moor’s order), evil (hurting Stefan), idealism (holds Stefan accountable), personal/material gain (revenge), power/influence (over Stefan and Aurora)
Bonus :: magic (fairy), minion (Diaval), lair (the Moors), name (Maleficent, suggesting evil)
A Studycorrupted—originally a sweet fairy, Maleficent becomes hardened and cruel when Stefan steals her wings
powerful—she was able to protect the Moors alone with her magic, and her magic is greater than that of any other fairy on the Moors
vengeful—she wants to make Stefan pay for stealing her wings, and so takes it out on his daughter, Aurora, by sentencing her to living death
controlling—in her grief and anger, Maleficent also takes over the Moors where there had previously been no ruler; she forces everyone into submission around her
active—thankfully, she’s not one of those villains who leaves all her dirty work to her minions; she is just as involved in Aurora’s plight as Diaval is
maternal—after raising her behind the scenes, Maleficent grows to have a maternal affection for Aurora, and regains the ability to experience true love
regretful—eventually, Maleficent realizes that she doesn’t want Aurora to suffer the punishment her father deserves, and tries to reverse the curse
determined—even when she can’t reverse it, Maleficent goes through a lot of work to save Aurora, and deliver a just punishment to the person who should have had it in the first place
saved—ultimately, after being reunited with her wings, Maleficent regains her humanity and is able to return as a fairy without the same suffering she inflicted for all those years
dethroned—she steps down from her power, and instead Aurora is given that authority instead, making Maleficent back to what she was intended to be since childhood
Big Ideaa mother’s love—I suspect we’re cycling back to a focus on maternal love. I’ve discussed Zira, but between Baghra (Grisha Trilogy), Frigga (Avengers), Elinor (Brave), and many others, I’ve seen a lot more strong mothering characters in my media lately. Maleficent holds to the same tradition. You can’t mess with the mama bear, and in the end, she herself saves Aurora.
temporary villain—reformed villains are unusual; usually they die, or go to jail, or commit suicide, or have a tragic accident, or disappear, or die. Maleficent’s story details both her “fall from grace,” as it were, but also her return to the realm of love, peace, and justice. I like that twist of hope: the evil within ourselves isn’t invincible, and there’s no such thing as a completely evil person. Despite Maleficent’s unforgiveable actions, she never falls past forgiveness.
wholeness means goodness—still, I criticize some of Maleficent’s complexity: when Maleficent has wings, she’s good, but when she doesn’t, she’s evil. She never completely loses her capacity to love, but in losing her body’s fullest functionality she loses her humanity, too. Does that go for everyone? Is the humanity of the mentally and physically handicapped in our world also at risk? That’s such crude symbolism. In our world, good people are good, independent of their abilities and disabilities. Sure, Maleficent grieves when she loses her wings. Losing a piece of yourself is hard! But a lot of people out there aren’t going to get their wings magically reattached someday, and you literally can’t be an evil homicidal maniac just because you’re different (you need a way better reason). Maleficent was doubly avenged in overcoming Stefan and regaining her wings, but if it were me, she would have learned to live without her wings. In the real world, you can be whole even if you lose your wings, no world takeovers required.
Maleficent doesn’t have a villain song, but I did want to share Lana Del Rey’s rendition of “Once Upon a Dream.” Where it used to be a song between Aurora and Phillip, it is now haunting and reminds me more of Maleficent and Stefan’s relationship—it’s creepy, in an amazing way!