Disney’s Experimental Age is an era of animation that ran from 2000 to 2008. It features a timeframe when Disney was experimenting with new animation techniques as the musicals of the Disney Renaissance were starting to produce diminishing returns. Disney recognized a need to evolve and started putting those plans into place. Part of that animation shift also meant a shift in the villains. While some remained the over-the-top obvious villains from the Renaissance, others were more low-key villains. Let’s take a look at them and rank the villains of Disney’s Experimental Age of Animation.
NO ONE – BOLT
There is no true villain in “Bolt.” In the television universe that Bolt believes he lives in, there’s Dr. Calico, but that man is just an actor on a TV show. The network executives are uncaring but not evil. While “Bolt” is my favorite film from this era of animation, it doesn’t have a villain, and I’m, admittedly, not sure if that makes the film better or if it would be improved with a villain.
DENAHI – BROTHER BEAR
Following in the footsteps of “Dinosaur,” “Brother Bear” introduces an antagonist who isn’t a true villain. Denahi is one of three brothers living in Alaska. His older brother is killed by a bear, and he is convinced the same bear killed his younger brother. He is grieving and seeking vengeance. In the end, he learns the bear he is hunting is actually his younger brother who must now serve as an older brother to a bear cub after the younger brother killed the cub’s mother. It’s a more nuanced take than most Disney stories.
The main antagonist of “Chicken Little” is just a young girl who also bullies Chicken Little and his friends. She is mean but not evil. In the end, she’s just a typical school aged child who happens to be a fox.
KRON – DINOSAUR
Kron is another not-so-typical villain. He isn’t evil, just stubborn and pigheaded. Kron is trying to lead the dinosaurs to a place to live after their home land is destroyed. He is relying on his previous knowledge and not considering some things might have changed. His refusal to listen endangers all of the other dinosaurs until Aladar comes to the rescue.
BOWLER HAT GUY – MEET THE ROBINSONS
Bowler Hat Guy presents a rather unique take on a villain. He’s a man who is angry about his circumstances and blames his old roommate at the orphanage where they lived. He ends up being tricked by a sentient bowler hat who is also angry at the same man. Once the hero figures out what’s going on, he finds a way to not invent the bowler hat and changes Bowler Hat Guy’s circumstances for the better. He isn’t really evil, just easily manipulated.
GANTU – LILO & STITCH
Gantu is a no nonsense soldier sent to capture Stitch after he escapes. Gantu isn’t evil, per se, but he is ruthless in his methods. He takes rules literally and often conducts his business in an unpleasant manner. Granted, if someone gave him orders in a different way, he wouldn’t actually be villainous.
ALAMEDA SLIM – HOME ON THE RANGE
Alameda Slim is a cattle rustler who can hypnotize cows with his yodeling allowing him to steal up to five thousand cows in one night. He is greedy and trying to make all of the local ranchers have to sell their land to him. While not willing to commit some more heinous crimes, he is willing to completely destroy the ranchers’ way of live for his own personal gain.
LONG JOHN SILVER – TREASURE PLANET
Long John Silver is the cook aboard the RLS Legacy who has planted his band of pirates among the crew so they can mutiny and steal the treasure. It’s the same role the character plays in the novel “Treasure Island” and every other film or show released under that title. In “Treasure Planet,” he’s a half-robot because of the film’s futuristic appeal. In the end, he still makes the decision to save Jim Hawkins showing a softer side.
THE FIREBIRD – FANTASIA 2000
In Disney’s revisit to the “Fantasia” concept, almost all of the original segments were replaced with newer ones. The Firebird replaces Chernabog as the only real villain of the film. Where Chernabog sided with the forces of evil, the Firebird attacks everyone with no allegiance whatsoever. That makes him more threatening because it’s impossible for either side to focus on the other with the Firebird looming. Still, his short appearance makes it hard to rank him too highly on this list.
YZMA – THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE
Yzma is the Emperor’s former advisor who is trying to kill him so she can rule in his stead. She is a true villain played to perfection by Eartha Kitt. She is obviously evil but also incredibly enjoyable in her villainy. Yzma stands out as one of the best villains of not just the Experimental Age of Animation but the entire Disney canon.
COMMANDER ROURKE – ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE
Rourke is a mercenary who joined Milo Thatch’s mission to Atlantis because he plans to steal and sell the crystal that makes Atlantis. Upon learning there are people there, he shows no compassion for them and is willing to sentence them to extinction for his own greed. Whereas Yzma was only willing to kill the Emperor, Rourke was willing to commit genocide. He is easily the most evil villain of the Experimental Age.
Those are my rankings. Which villain from the Experimental Age of Animation do you find to be the most evil?