Disney recently released Cruella, a live action origin story of the titular villainess from 101 Dalmatians. But before the dog nabbing villainess could gain a foothold, Disney had already made millions banking on The Little Mermaid’s Ursula, the original Femme Fatale of Disney’s animated franchise. Cruella has earned rave reviews and has opened up a door to infinite possibilities for the studio. Disney must be now looking forward to other villains it could cash in on. Ursula seems to be the perfect choice.
Ursula the Sea Witch was first seen in 1989’s The Little Mermaid. She was once a citizen of Triton’s Kingdom. But her mischievous and notorious nature led Triton to banish her. Exiled, Ursula plotted to depose Triton and gain his power for herself, ruling the seven seas as she wished. Her plans were thwarted by Ariel and Eric. She was beaten and killed in the movie. But that never stopped her from making multiple appearances in several Little Mermaid shows that came in the latter years.
The reason of her banishment from Atlantica is not explicitly stated in the movie. The Broadway musical sheds some light. Ursula and Triton were siblings. Both of them inherited a portion of their father’s power, the original rule of Atlantica. While Triton used his powers for truth and justice, Ursula grew ever more power-hungry, dabbling in dark magic. This led to Triton discovering her acts and exiling her.
Making Ursula More Human Than Monster
Disney Villains like Maleficent and Cruella needed to have a more fleshed out story arc so that the viewers know their villainous origin stories. Almost everyone knows the story of Ursula. So the live action movie does not need to dive deep into the lore. It creates room for the movie to focus on the present story arc – on how Ursula was pushed into the abyss of villainy.
In Maleficent, it was shown the titular villainess was a victim of circumstances. That she was no inherently evil, just spiteful of others. Maybe an Ursula movie could explore how Triton, Ursula’s sibling, spread lies about her using dark magic, that eventually turned the merfolk against her. Or maybe another threat to Atlantica came into being that forced Ursula to resort to the forbidden arts.
Either way, Ursula’s origin story would make for a good movie. There is a wonderful universe beneath the sea surface just waiting to hit the big screens. And coming to the actress of our choice to play a young Ursula, maybe Kat Dennings or Melissa McCarthy could fit in those shoes?