Classic Disney Villain Removed, Banned Amid Controversies

in Disney, Entertainment


Credit: Disney Parks

Disney villains have always been a cornerstone of the studio’s storytelling, providing the necessary antagonism that makes its heroes shine even brighter.

From the cunning Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians (1961) to the ruthless Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989), these characters have become as iconic as the protagonists they oppose. However, the portrayal of these villains has not been without controversy.

Emma Stone as Cruella
Credit: Disney

Over the years, Disney has faced criticism for various depictions of its antagonists. Early Disney villains often embodied negative stereotypes that have since been recognized as problematic. For instance, the portrayal of certain groups in Peter Pan (1953) and  Aladdin (1992) have sparked debates among certain fans.

In addition to cultural controversies, some Disney villains have been criticized for perpetuating harmful stereotypes about gender and appearance. Characters like the evil queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Lady Tremaine in Cinderella (1950) are often characterized by their vanity and obsession with beauty, which some argue reinforce negative tropes about women.

A picturesque view of a fairy tale Cinderella Castle with spires, under a clear blue sky with the sun setting behind, casting a warm glow over the scene at Walt Disney World Resort.
Credit: Disney

Despite these controversies, Disney villains remain beloved by many fans for their complex personalities and memorable performances. The studio’s ability to create nuanced antagonists who are as captivating as they are sinister has contributed to the enduring appeal of its films. As Disney continues to evolve, so too do its villains, with recent reimaginings offering more depth and empathy to these traditionally one-dimensional characters.

One such reimagining is Maleficent, the dark fairy from Sleeping Beauty (1959). Portrayed by Angelina Jolie in the live-action adaptations Maleficent (2014) and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), this character has undergone a significant transformation. Rather than being a straightforward villain, Maleficent is depicted as a complex anti-hero with a tragic backstory. This nuanced portrayal has been praised for adding depth to the character and challenging traditional notions of good and evil.

Maleficent dragon Sleeping Beauty
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

However, recent developments have left fans dismayed as Maleficent (2014) finds itself indefinitely removed from Disney+ in the United States. According to a report by Dexerto, the film’s absence is due to pre-existing agreements with other streaming services. Before the launch of Disney+ in 2019, Disney partnered with platforms like Netflix, HBO, and Starz to distribute their content. These agreements still affect the availability of certain films on Disney’s own streaming service.

Disney no longer needs to license out their content, but existing contracts for certain films, like Maleficent, will remain in effect until they expire or are bought out. Maleficent was first removed from Disney+ in 2021, a move that surprised many subscribers who expected all Disney films to be permanently available on the platform. However, the sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, remains accessible on Disney+.

For those looking to watch Maleficent in the US, the film is currently available on STARZ. A STARZ subscription is required to stream the movie on this platform. Alternatively, Maleficent can be purchased or rented on digital marketplaces such as Apple TV and Amazon. Physical copies are also available for those who prefer to own the film outright.

The removal of Maleficent highlights the complexities involved in the transition to proprietary streaming services. As Disney+ continues to grow, the company is likely to renegotiate or wait out existing agreements to consolidate their content on a single platform. This strategy aligns with Disney’s broader goal of providing a comprehensive and exclusive library for its subscribers.

Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty 1959
Credit: Disney

While the indefinite removal of Maleficent is a disappointment to many, it also serves as a reminder of the intricate web of licensing agreements that govern content distribution. Fans can take solace in knowing that Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is still available on Disney+, allowing them to continue exploring the dark yet enchanting world of one of Disney’s most fascinating villains.

The saga of Maleficent’s removal from Disney+ underscores the ongoing challenges and negotiations that come with managing a vast library of beloved content. As Disney navigates these waters, fans can look forward to the eventual return of Maleficent to its rightful place on Disney+. Until then, STARZ and other digital platforms provide viable alternatives for those eager to revisit or discover the tale of the misunderstood fairy.

Which of the Disney villains is your favorite? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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