The resemblance to the 2019 Joker in Disney’s Cruella trailer brings up the issue, once again, of the line drawn between mental health and evil.

The launch of Disney’s Cruella The trailer has more than a touch of supervillain. Specifically, viewers can’t help but notice the nuances of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and Joaquin Pheonix’s Joker in Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil, who is touted to trash the 1970s London fashion scene in their way. to become a potential puppy killer in 101 Dalmatians. Both comparisons are fitting – the trailer is extremely evocative of jestershe’s into more than just her central performance, and Cruella’s two-tone hair and anarchic brand of female emancipation are very Harley.

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But by referencing the former, whether intentionally or not, Cruella it creates early cause for concern about how the origin story may resist drawing a causal line between mental health and evil.

Like the two Pernicious previous movies, Disney’s Cruella presents yet another opportunity for the studio to develop its cast of classic villains into their own solo exploits, many of which were characterized in their original stories as two-dimensional ‘crazy women’ led and punished by superficial and sinful desires: mostly vanity, who it is the oldest “sin” of women in patriarchal societies and cultures. Historically, male Disney villains have been allowed to be more complex in their motives and more calculating and intelligent in their actions. While they plot and plan in silence and wallow in intelligence, their female counterparts are often laughing, shallow, and jealous.

The new era of live-action remake of Disney films clearly aims to travel self-reflective paths similar to those that the company’s newest animated Princess films have taken, taking on Disney’s past treatment of its female characters, among others. problems, and with the aim of updating its representation for modern audiences.

However, as much as adding more nuance is appreciated, a complication arises in the sense that these negatives are also … kind why we love these icons. Cruella was scary in 101 Dalmatians due to how unsympathetic she was, and great theatrical characters like her not only play well for a younger audience, but have great appeal to viewers of any age. Women like Cruella revel in their wickedness and there is a strange kind of empowerment felt by those marginalized and demonized by society; those who seek escapism, fantasy and subtextual reflection in Disney fairy tales.

But the switch to live action changes audience expectations. Animation allows for cartoon characterization while putting real human flesh on these same characters is supposedly a three-dimensional ‘lift’ of the story. Therefore, Cruella can no longer be a wild woman who will do anything for a fur coat, she has to have a backstory, a journey, a fall from grace.

Related: Cruella De Vil May Have Become Disney’s Joker

the jester energy radiating from the trailer, cut off with some of the raucousness of the 2020s Birds of prey, hints at an identity struggle for Cruella. As we saw in Todd Phillips’ film, which was applauded and criticized for its depiction of mental health, the line between sympathy and toxicity is a difficult one to walk. Cruella’s claim to be a “psycho” in the trailer is equally divisive: is it problematic or self-asserting? It is certainly possible that these types of polarizing figures are not in their right mind Y completely evil, without the latter being used as the root cause. Even placing Cruella, like Estella, on the stage of the fashion industry creates a trap or a claim for the film to choose between, returning to the flimsy motif of vanity. Then again, what else do you do with a woman whose path to hell is paved with dog hair?

Hopefully the overall product will get closer to the DCEU’s Harley Quinn rather than an iteration (let’s be honest) of her ex. Robbie’s version of the villain turned antihero, even in 2016 Suicide squadIt is a brilliant mix of vulnerability and self-assurance; someone who turns loose screws into accessories, before hitting vile men with them. Female characters don’t have to be idols to make us want to reach for the smashing hammer of patriarchy. Especially when Harley literally has one of her own. Cruella It’s likely holding back a lot so far, but for all these reasons, it’s easy to see why fans already have mixed feelings.

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