Disney villains: 7 underrated baddies we loved to hate

What's a classic Disney movie without a classic villain? Very often, our favourite Disney films get an added spark thanks to a diabolical, scheming antagonist, and there are plenty to choose from amidst the Mouse House's back catalogue.

But what about those brilliant baddies who have been overlooked? As it turns out, there are plenty of those, too. If you're looking for lockdown movie inspiration, scroll down and check out our blog list of underrated Disney enemies who encouraged boos and hisses at every turn.

1. Edgar (The Aristocats, 1970)

When an eccentric old aristocrat leaves her fortune to her beloved felines, her jealous butler schemes to get hold of the money himself. So runs the story of Disney's popular anthropomorphic animation, which features the voices of several Disney veterans.

Eva Gabor and Phil Harris (who voiced Baloo in The Jungle Book) voice the chic Duchess and smooth-talking alley cat Thomas O'Malley, but the show is stolen by Roddy Maude-Roxby as Edgar. The bumbling butler isn't exactly the most threatening Disney villain, but how can we not hate someone who plans to send a brood of cats first-class to Timbuktu? Booo!

2. Medusa (The Rescuers, 1977)

She's essentially a diet version of Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians, but the cackling Medusa is still an entertaining villain in her own right. Disney's 1977 movie focuses on two brave mice from the Rescue Aid Society who head to America's Deep South to rescue a kidnapped young girl.

Veteran stage and screen actor Geraldine Page, best known for her Oscar-winning role in John Wayne Western Hondo, brings great relish to the role of the evil Medusa. With her shock of red hair, combined with flamboyant mannerisms, make her a memorable Disney antagonist.

3. The Horned King (The Black Cauldron, 1985)

Scariest Disney villain of all time? There's a lot to choose from, including Scar in The Lion King and Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. But few radiate the sheer level of menace quite like The Horned King, who gets an added boost from the booming vocals of esteemed British thesp John Hurt.

Disney's 1985 movie was a famous disaster, soon disappearing from view, only to attain a level of cult popularity in the years since. It's almost certainly the darkest animation Disney ever put out, a mystical story of death and destruction with The Horned King presiding over all. He also gets an especially grisly death scene that, at the time, sent many children fleeing from the room.

4. Sykes (Oliver & Company, 1988)

Disney put an anthropomorphic spin on Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist in this charming animated adventure. In this case, Oliver is an adorable ginger kitten who is thrown into the bustling alleways and avenues of New York. Fortunately, he's schooled by streetwise terrier Dodger, voiced by pop musician Billy Joel.

But as with Dickens' original story, the show is stolen by the villains. In this case, the fearsome Bill Skyes is reimagined as a deadly loan shark who is guarded by fierce Dobermans. Big actor Robert Loggia brings raspy threat to the role of Sykes, prior to meeting a spectacular end on the Manhattan train tracks.

5. Hades (Hercules, 1997)

James Woods reportedly described Hades as his favourite role – not bad when one considers he's worked with the likes of Oliver Stone, Sergio Leone and David Cronenberg. The actor's sense of fun is readily apparent in his vocal delivery, as the lord of the Greek underworld plots against our heroic title character, played by Tate Donovan.

The idea of recasting Hades as a fast-talking, all-American wiseguy will no doubt make some people cringe. But Woods' scenery-chewing performance is so good that we'll forgive all the rampant inaccuracies.

6. Yzma (The Emperor's New Groove, 2000)

This offbeat, Mexican-themed animation had a troubled production, beginning life as a musical, before being reworked into a more conventional buddy comedy. Even so, it has one important weapon in its arsenal: the voice of late jazz legend Eartha Kitt as the villainous Yzma.

The wicked sorceress wants to take over the kingdom of Emperor Kuzo. And, true to form, she gets her own grandstanding musical number that outlines exactly what the world would look like under her rule. For all the film's flaws, Kitt's energetic performance carries it through.

7. John Silver (Treasure Planet, 2002)

Here's a Disney character who intriguingly blurs the lines between villain and father figure. The lavishly mounted Treasure Planet, from Aladdin directors Ron Clements and John Musker, was a disappointing box office flop on its release. But many have re-engaged with it in the years since, admiring the beauty of its animation and the depth of its characters.

As per Robert Louis Stevenson's source novel Treasure Island, the most compelling figure is the alleged baddie. Long John Silver is refashioned as a cyborg, who has his own evil agenda, but still dispenses paternal advice to hero Jim Hawkins. As voiced by late South African actor Brian Murray, Silver is someone who reveals hidden layers with each new viewing.

Which Disney villain do you consider to be especially underrated? Let us know @Cineworld.