To the naysayers, Disney films seem a little formulaic. You’re introduced to the adorable hero or heroine, who’s pitted against the nefarious villain, then there’s a bit of stressful action in the middle culminating in a guaranteed happy ending. But fans will say that the stories are more like parables on human nature, the characters vehicles to depict a moral or a ‘type’, in the tradition of classic fairytales … (OK, so the naysayers could also chime in here with the observation that this is merely storyline underdevelopment, but the fans call it intrigue!) While the Disney heros have a lot in common, and can be said to typify goodness – courage, selflessness, beauty – while Disney’s evil villains are destructive, selfish, cruel and ugly. The evil villains have questionable motivations: If we look at ‘Cinderella’, for example, it’s not quite clear what becomes of Lady Tremaine and her two evil daughters. Or, in ‘101 Dalmatians’, we’re unsure why Cruella De Vil became quite so addicted to fur. So, their motivations seem almost secondary to their functional nature – as the representations of evil in the world of Disney. One other noteworthy thing these villains tend to have in common though, and a trait which is perhaps representative of societal biases and stereotypes; they’re all typically powerful and, very often, this is accompanied by wealth.
Although not overtly discussed in the films, Disney pictures use imagery which clearly demonstrates that certain characters are rich and others aren’t. In the case of Lady Tremaine in ‘Cinderella’, for example, with her pearl earrings, her slim dresses and her large mansion, it’s obvious she’s one of the wealthy elite. Robin Hood’s Prince John is all about money, of course; the film centers around Robin Hood trying to steal it back from the royalty to give it to the poor. The question of money extends, too, into the more modern Disney films. In ‘The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ it’s clearly implied that the villain, King Miraz, comes from wealth.
So, which villains have the most covetable wealth, with which to furnish their evil habits? Thanks to the trusty team at Forbes magazine, and with research into the aristocracy and issues regarding dress and manner, the list of the five richest Disney villains has been made possible. In descending order, we reveal the definitive list of evil Disney money-makers. So which of our childhood horrors comes out as number 1? Well, you’re about to find out.
5. Lady Tremaine ($3.2 million)
Number five on our list goes to Cinderella’s evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine. Nobody wants to accept that the evil woman has money but indeed she does. In sequels of the original Cinderella, it’s said that Lady Tremaine came from a wealthy family. That wealth, combined with Cinderella’s father – also Lady Tremaine’s husband – would have put her very high on the list. But with two spoiled daughters, Tremaine’s fortune would have likely diminished rapidly. She still ranks high at an estimated $3.2 million which is expressed in the large house Cinderella cleans, and the dresses and jewelery she wears. As creepy as she may be, she’s worth a substantial amount.
4. Prince John ($70 million)
Of course, Prince John would land on our list. He’s number four based on the assumption that he’s based on a British royal prince; so his wealth is rounded off to match the net worth of Britain’s own Prince Harry, but with the extra millions coming from his ill-gotten, immoral spoils. Prince John stole from his people, climbing rapidly up the wealth ladder and leaving poverty in his wake. Ordained with jewels and crowns made of jewels, Prince John is one of the more sly and possessive of the Disney villains: His greed is what makes this character so momentous and it extends so far that he even sleeps around his bags of money, sucking on his thumb and snoring like an evil baby.
3. The Evil Queen ($500 million)
The original Disney villain, the Evil Queen had a huge fortune. Not only are her clothes extravagant and she can afford to hire people to do her dirty work, but she’s a queen which of course equates to a pretty comfy bank balance. The British Queen is worth $500 million, so we’ve used that as a measure for this Queen’s wealth. Hopefully for those over in the UK, though, their Queen won’t descend into the madness and trickery like the Queen in Snow White. Unlike Prince John, wealth doesn’t interest this villain: Youth and beauty are what motivates her actions and pushes her to pose as a sweet old lady in order to get Snow White to take that fateful bite of the apple. The Evil Queen may well be the most demented but she only falls at number 3 on our list of big spending villains.
2. Cruella De Vil (£1 billion)
We know the song. We remember the fur coats. We can almost smell the smoke. Yes, Cruella De Vil is number two on our list. In the original book, written by Dodie Smith, she’s a London heiress and it’s mentioned that her net worth is $6 million. Through different adaptations of the novel, Cruella’s career and money has progressed. In the 1961 Disney original she’s certainly rich, although it’s never explained quite how she amassed her wealth. In the 1996 Disney version, portrayed by Glenn Close, Cruella is the head of a glamorous fashion house.
Through the years, her fortune through Disney has increased, bringing her wealth to $1 billion – according to Forbes’ Richest Fictional Characters list. It’s interesting to note that as time has gone on and her character has developed, she’s become a business woman. Unlike the other female villains on the list – aristocratic heads of a family – Disney has developed Cruella as a powerful figure in the industrialised business world. Her fortune is a representation of her high powered career. She’s a force to be reckoned with, and with $1 billion to back De Vil up – if she doesn’t scare you, what evil thing will?
1. Scrooge McDuck ($65.4 billion)
And of course, number 1 is Scrooge McDuck. Although not an irredeemable villain, he’s a nasty piece of work when Disney first introduces us to him. Based on Charles Dickens’s most famous character, Ebenezer Scrooge, McDuck is wealthy, miserly and selfish in the beginning. McDuck has been number 1 on Forbes Richest Fictional Characters list since 2007 and continues to increase his wealth as the years go on -he must have made some good investments…
His net profit is now $65.4 billion, and his money comes from mining. McDuck is a reformed villain though; Like the original Scrooge, he learns the errors of his ways and becomes kinder to his workers. He has three adorable nephews who stand to inherit his fortune, but they’re not set to appear on the ‘villain’ rich list anytime soon.
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