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The Disney Villain That Over 24% Of People Are Siding With

What makes a Disney film extraordinary? For many of the best Disney movies, the core element may be the protagonist, such as the Disney princesses from the animated classics or an anthropomorphic fish in newer Pixar films. Other times it's the sidekick that helps make a film, from Elsa's snowman companion Olaf in Frozen to Ariel's friend Flounder in The Little Mermaid. Even the setting can help elevate a Disney movie into something special, from the savannah of The Lion King's to the  surreal fantasyland of Alice and Wonderland. However, many of the greatest Disney films have something on the other end of the story, challenging the protagonist, thwarting the sidekick, and threatening the entire world that the film is set in. Classic Disney villains can be just as memorable and essential as any hero or magical powers in the movie. The best Disney villains don't just act as immovable obstacles in the hero or heroine's journey but are fully formed characters with desires and fears that guide their actions.

Sometimes, those motivations are so well crafted that the audience can't help but identify with the good points the villains make, even if their methods are misguided. Looper surveyed 528 people and asked them which Disney villain they thought was right, and over 24% sided with one famous antagonist.

Over 24% of respondents identified with Captain Hook from Peter Pan

While each of the Disney villains that Looper presented received a strong showing of support from fans, Captain Hook, from Disney's 1953 film Peter Pan, received the most sympathy with 24.2% of the vote. The story of Peter Pan and his nemesis has gone through many variations since originating as a play and novel in the 1900s, with Hook a little different in all of them. Disney's 1953 version portrays Captain Hook as a man who pursues Peter Pan out of a sense of revenge for the hand that he cut off and fed to the terrifying crocodile that pursues Hook wherever he goes. While the fearsome pirate captain may be the adult in the story, one who is actively spoiling the fun of Neverland's eternal children, his total dependence on his first mate, Smee, and his childlike fear of his crocodile pursuer help make the character relatable.

The second-place finisher in Looper's poll, with 19.7% of the vote, was Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2, another character who stood out amongst the film's heroes because of his age. Stinky Pete switches from a kind mentor to a cruel antagonist as he tries to force Woody and Jessie to join him on a flight that will take them to a toy museum in Tokyo instead of returning to a home where children love them. However, Pete's selfish actions are the result of a lifetime of neglect, having never been purchased or played with by children. While his actions may not be just, viewers seem to understand where his anger stems from.

Disney fans also sympathized with villains like Shere Khan, Syndrome, and Maleficent

Respondents to Looper's poll placed Shere Khan, the tiger antagonist of The Jungle Book, in third place for the villain with they most identified, with 17.4% of the vote. Shere Khan's depiction changed a little in the 1967 animated version of The Jungle Book and the 2016 live-action film, but in both versions, he is a ferocious lord of the jungle with a reasonable fear and distrust of humans which comes to include Mowgli.

In fourth place, with 14.6% of the vote, was Anton Ego, the harsh food critic in Ratatouille who gets a lesson in acceptance after he learns that his new favorite meal was created by Remy, a rat who believes that anyone can cook. In last place, with a still-respectable 14% response, is Syndrome, the supervillain alter ego of Buddy, a superfan of Mr. Incredible in The Incredibles. After being shunned by Mr. Incredible at a young age, Syndrome makes it his mission to use his inventions to make himself appear as the superhero he always wanted to be, even if it comes at the cost of innocent lives.

Of course, Disney has an entire roster of memorable villains, and poll respondents were quick to write in the villain they identified with the most. The most common write-in character was Maleficent, the classic villain from Sleeping Beauty, the 2014 live-action film, Maleficent, and its 2019 sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil. Fans also wrote in Hades from Hercules, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, the original Toy Story villain Sid, Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, and Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians.