Friday, August 21, 2015

WBI: Prince Charming (Shrek)

I am not a biggest fan of what Dreamworks has done with Shrek, but I am willing to say that I did enjoy multiple aspects of Prince Charming’s character, especially during the third movie after his mother dies.

via GifSmile
Prince Charming was promised Fiona’s hand, and when he and his mother are incapable of getting it through deception, Charming instead rallies the fairy tale villains to wreak his revenge against Shrek and Fiona, and the “happily ever after” denied to bad guys everywhere. 

WBI Profile

Classification :: Δ0124578#&
Role :: Politician (prince)
Motivation :: chaos (evil takeover), evil (hurting Shrek and Fiona), idealism (egocentrism), insubordination (to mama), lifestyle (as a prince), personal/material gain (revenge, kinghood), power/influence (over Far Far Away)
Bonus :: minions (fairy tale villains), family ties (Fairy Godmother)

Click to Enlarge

A Study

dramatic—he literally narrates himself as he goes to save Princess Fiona from her tower; if that isn’t drama, I don’t know what is

selfish—Charming likes attention, he likes to have things go his way, and he cares more about his due than the love Fiona already has

whiny—like when he talks about stuff he doesn’t like, he just whines

babied—his helicopter mom does a good job of handling matters herself, and talks to him like he were three months old, frequently

reacting—prior to his mother’s death, Charming mostly reacted to what happened to him; afterwards, he started taking action himself

vengeful—he wants to avenge his mom and then get exactly what was promised to him; it wouldn’t hurt to maim Shrek in the process

leader—his speech to convince the fairy tale villains to take their due is actually impressive; as a leader, he inspires a goal and rallies his allies towards him to get it

dramatic-er—rather than just kill Shrek with the bolt to the chest or anything, he stages an entire theatrical production with the climax of killing Shrek, for his own glory

unadmired—while he can call the shots and make as much of a fuss as he’d like, in the end it’s Shrek who gains the people’s loyalty instead

heartless—ironically, Charming’s predicament comes from a failed promise of love, but he goes forward to show that he is actually quite cruel and controlling when the situation demands it

Big Idea

people change—Charming changes quite a bit between the latter two Shrek movies, beginning as a spoiled brat and eventually rising to become a spoiled leader. He’s much the same person, but his change from someone who merely reacts to his situations versus someone who acts upon his situations, and it took a big life event (his mom’s death) to change that.

lame—I mean, it’s hard to admire Charming from here in the audience, because he’s a weirdly-obsessed-with-drama twenty-something who lives in his mom’s basement and is preoccupied with his hair. He isn’t a sleek villain, and even his own allies don’t like him much, but he can get stuff done, and that’s what matters.

Shrek is better—Shrek is an ogre, but he isn’t a monster; Charming is a prince, and yet he is. At the end, Shrek ruins Charming’s climax because even though he’s green and frightening, he makes the audience laugh, he demonstrates a sense of humanity, and his wife rescues him. Charming is very focused on himself, which means that his cruelty, his drama, and his heartlessness make him an unlikable, and that’s always a problem for a leader.

“I am the rightful King of Far Far Away!” –Prince Charming, Shrek the Third

What do you think of Charming as a villain? Have you ever written a villain who changes over the course of a story?


  1. Huh, I never watched Shrek 2, much less Shrek 3. That sounds really interesting, having Prince Charming as the villain, especially since he changes throughout the movie. I think those are the best villains, actually. The ones that change.

    Great post! :)

    1. I think Shrek 2 was okay for a sequel, but like most sequels, it still went all downhill from there. Anyway, it is rather interesting to see Charming as the villain, and I agree—his change improves his characterization! Thanks for reading, Kat!

  2. I love Charming as a villain. Granted, he's a bit of drama queen but come on, prince charming as a villain instead of the hero? Stereotype flips are so much fun!!! And he's a fully developed villain, too, which doesn't happen too often (*cough* Marvel *cough*). Um, I haven't written a villain who changes, but I have plans :) *evil laugh*

    1. He is dramatic, isn't he? It's fun to rewrite fairy tales for that exact reason! Indeed, he is rather developed, and that's nice to see. I hope your villain that changes is awesome!

  3. Charming was definitely not my favorite villain in the Shrek series, but I actually kind of enjoyed his characterization. Like the others said, his change throughout the movie was fun to watch, and he certainly added a lot to the movies.

    1. *nods* His mother was a little more classy, I think, but to each her own. He did make things more interesting! Thanks for reading and commenting, Precious!

  4. Charming is such a great villain--and I love the contrast between Shrek and Charming where one looks like a monster but isn't and vice versa. I mean, I agree, as far as villains go Charming isn't all that impressive in most areas, but I do like how ridiculous he is. I mean, talk about needy drama queen. As far as any villains I've written, I'm not sure they change too much--I mean, they're dynamic to an extent, because they learn and grow and whatnot, but they tend to stay true to their core--maybe the evil they express might change over time as they learn to express that evil in different and darker ways, but I guess that's about it. I do like the idea of a changing villain like Prince Charming, though.

    Great profile--oh, and speaking of Prince Charming, I watched Into the Woods right after you shared the link, and I really, really enjoyed it. Like, the movie may have more aesthetic appeal, but the musical is where the talent's at. Thank you so much for pointing me in the right direction (only now I can't get the songs out of my head).

    1. Exactly—he creates instances of juxtaposition and irony in a really fun way. Of course, Charming isn't as fantastic as other villains out there, but admittedly, this is also a children's film, and so they're probably hunting down laughs from the immature third grader department, too. I'm not sure if growing or learning is perhaps the same as dynamic, even if they aren't completely static in characterization, especially if their core doesn't change. I wonder if there's an in between word for someone that doesn't completely revolutionize their perspective/actions (which is what I usually consider to be dynamic) but doesn't stay the same the whole time, either.

      Oh, I'm glad you did! I think your words say that much better than I would have thought of, but you're right—aesthetically, the movie fit together much better, but it wasn't as complete. And the songs are stuck in your head? Gee, I'm sorry. That wasn't part of my evil plan or anything.

  5. This is a really neat way to examine villains!

    It's been forever since I watched Shrek, but I remember finding him an annoying villain. I don't think I ever watched Shrek 3, so I can't really comment on his growth.

    Great analysis!

    1. I think so!

      He didn't have as good of a role in Shrek 2 because he was just being his mom's prop, basically (statement about overparenting in this day and age?), whereas in Shrek 3 he became a fuller person in terms of his action. So in that regard, it is interesting, although the only other good point I can think of for Shrek 3 is that "Live and Let Die" is in the soundtrack. You could just listen to that on Youtube.

      Thanks for reading, Sunny!

  6. Ooh, nice character study. You do it well, Heather, and I so enjoyed getting into your thoughts on Charming. I can never remember what Shrek films I've seen, after the second, because they're kind of a blur. I don't remember his mother getting killed, although I'm pretty sure I've seen the third film, but Charming has been a character I've enjoyed from the very beginning. I love the fact he's self obsessed and the moment he narrates himself going to rescue Fiona and takes off the hairnet, well it makes him unique to other characters, other Villains. And having a Villain who is a "Hero" is so interesting. I basically want to go and rewatch Shrek to relive how much I enjoy his character.

    1. Thanks, Romi. The Shrek films do kind of get repetitive after a while, I'm afraid. Charming's mother gets killed in the second film, so even if you don't remember it, I would guess that if you recognize Charming you've still seen the ending. This is me justifying the spoilers I have given you. Anyway, yes, Charming is hilarious, especially his hairnet, and you're right—the irony of our traditional "hero" becoming the "villain" is a totally fascinating concept to explore. :) I hope you enjoy rewatching Shrek!


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