Friday, December 18, 2015

WBI: Maleficent

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.

via reactiongifs
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 Profile

Classification :: 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 Study

corrupted—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 Idea

a 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!

Overall, Maleficent was okay. How did she compare with the original movie? Would you ever write a villain like Maleficent?


  1. I enjoyed Maleficent because she was so different than most villains. (The other one that comes to mind right now is Anakin/Darth Vader; but I can't really think of any other than that). She has a legitimate reason to be doing villainous stuff, but she does become utterly despicable, to eventually be redeemed. Interesting post!

    1. Really? I guess I didn't think to find a similarity between Darth Vader and Maleficent. Tell me more! But yeah, her story is very interesting when she's the protagonist. :)

  2. I think it's great that maternal figures are getting more love! I do feel that maternal love isn't valued enough in western media (I may be biased, though, since it's a huge thing in China). But, oh, I never considered the ableist implications. That is kind of problematic ... and definitely interesting thoughts as I am beginning to plan out a new WIP with angels where their wings are essentially their souls and losing their wings = quite a harrowing experience. Great food for thought, Heather!

    1. Yeah... I always think it's okay in /other/ people's work, you know? Maybe I was reading into it with the ableist implications, but at least for me, they were pretty strong. Your idea sounds interesting, though! :) I'd definitely like to hear more about it.

  3. In my opinion, Lana Del Rey's version of Once Upon a Dream is so much better than the original one. I love what you said about it, how it seems to be more about Maleficent and Stefan and less about Aurora and her prince.

    I really liked Maleficent a lot better than Sleeping Beauty because it's a great deal more compelling. Aside from my need for sleep, I couldn't really find much in Aurora to relate to, and I always thought she was a little shallow. I liked what they did with Maleficent--Stefan's betrayal, Maleficent's grief, etc. I do think that on at least one level, the wing/good, no wing/bad construct was poorly chosen. But I also wondered if it was more symbolism than anything. Like, the loss of her wings symbolized her loss of trust and loss of love and whatnot, and when she got her wings back, it was because she was learning to love and trust again. So like, the wings were more a visual cue--more an idea--than anything. But you're right, it does cast a poor light on those who are disabled because goodness is not tied to physical wellness.

    I liked that Maleficent wasn't a villain because she wanted to be evil, that she was a villain because she had been hurt and she was lashing out, and in her own twisted way, she was just trying to get justice for herself. I mean, no one else was going to bring Stefan to justice. And I liked that, in the end, she finds something a great deal better than cold hard justice.

    1. RIGHT? It really deepens the meaning of the song, from something cute to almost a threat. It's beautiful.

      I agree, Sleeping Beauty wasn't really about Aurora and that made her feel distant and boring. I agree that it was meant as symbolism, and her loss, and I can understand that, but at the same time, it just justifies miracle cures as a way to say something about the character.

      And yes! Justice. Justice is a great motivator, but I think it was really interesting because her method of enacting justice was by punishing the innocent, which really opened up quandaries for us. It was pretty cool. :)

  4. I actually haven't seen either of those movies (yes I shamelessly plowed right through your spoiler warning, haha)! But I have heard a lot about Maleficent, and your descriptions sounded so fascinating, so I suppose I will have to watch it and see what I think! :P

    1. Maleficent is worth it, and Sleeping Beauty is meh. :P I hope you enjoy it when you see it, though! Thanks, Bailey!

  5. I liked "Maleficent" better than "Sleeping Beauty" because the characters were much deeper and twisted, unlike the black and white good guy bad guy thing going on in the older movie. Pretty much everyone had two sides to them. Stefan was supposed to kill Maleficent, but he couldn't because he loved her so he took her wings instead, Maleficent was good in the beginning but she was hurt so she lashed out, Aurora trusted Maleficent and was let down, etc. etc. Plus, like you mentioned, it was good to see a character be both the villain and the hero.

    The movie was alright, I think, but I'm done with narrators and I think the beginning took way too long. I was waiting for the throne room scene and it took age to happen.

    1. Me too. Although I think suggesting that Stefan "loved" Maleficent is a bit of a stretch because love will find a way, and he didn't. He was always a bad guy.

      You don't like narrators? XD Oh dear. And yeah, it's not my favorite fairy tale, either, so I can get that. Of course, it's not really Aurora's story, so no particular reason to hurry towards it, either.

  6. I actually haven't seen Maleficent, but dang. From your post, it sounds incredible, and Maleficent sounds like one of those complicated, not-quite-hero, not-quite-villain characters I would love.


    1. It's definitely 3/5 stars in my book, but I'd be interested to hear what you think of it! She is definitely that kind of character. If you watch it, be sure to tell me what you think!


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