Thursday, February 6, 2014

Disney Villains: Prince John (Robin Hood)

    So, after posting the update about this new series, I realized Maleficent will be getting her own stand alone movie this year!  Because of that reason, I'm going to hold off on her so we can see from her side first.  Instead, I decided to go with a movie a lot of people forget about that just recently came out of the vault: Robin Hood!  There are so many retellings of the tale of Robin Hood, but this one has always been one of my favorites up there with Men in Tights and the Russel Crowe version.  Why this movie?  Well, the villain is none other than Prince John, a real historical character that has tons of resources about him!  This will be a bit different from my other posts, seeing as he is actually a real person rather than just a fable.  Today, we'll delve past just the lion and get to the man!

       Prince John (Lackland), King John I, John Plantagenet, Softsword 

                   King of England/Lion

In the film:  
                   John has an overall goofy characteristic.  He is easily tricked and superstitious as seen by the willingness he listens to Robin Hood when he is dressed as a fortune teller.  He is "a coward and a crybaby, who after his brother, King Richard is tricked into going a crusade, he assumes the crown and becomes somewhat a dictator, leaving his subjects in poverty"  (source).  In the movie, he ends up jailing an entire town's worth of people, including the local Friar, for being too poor to pay taxes as well as tries to murder the foxy Robin Hood.  He is portrayed as having a strange love towards his mother who loved Richard better, and often ends up sucking his thumb and holding his ear like a child.  Although he has a horrible temper, he is generally a rather light-hearted and funny character, spawning one of the greatest songs ever.  Some even think the Sheriff is the worse villain, seeing as he carries out the Phony Prince's orders with glee.  Over all, by no means the baddest baddy in the bunch...right?  Well...

Behind the Scenes:  
                     Prince John was a true tyrant.  Unlike the movie representation, he was ruthless and his temper was just as bad or worse and he was much smarter and more cunning than you would guess.  John fought with his on barons (which led to his death) as well as the Pope and other countries!  John had a series of failed military campaigns, earning him the title "Softsword" referring to his poor military leadership.  One of his most famous shows of his treachery was in reference to the Magna Carta, or "Great Charter."  Drawn up by his upset subjects in 1215, "the charter went beyond simply addressing specific baronial complaints, and formed a wider proposal for political reform, albeit one focusing on the rights of free men, not serfs and unfree labour.[200] It promised the protection of church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, new taxation only with baronial consent and limitations on scutage and other feudal payments"  (Source).  At first, he agreed to sign it, then "he secretly wrote the Pope asking him to cancel Magna Carta on the grounds that he signed it against his will" (source) although he had put his seal on it of his own choice.  It's hard to tell exactly the number of deaths and imprisonments he caused, but he definitely caused a few.  Not to mention, in the movie, his unjust reign was ended with the triumphant return of his big brother, Richard the Lionheart, when in all actuality (as seen in the Russel Crowe version), Richard was killed in battle.                      

Deaths caused:  
               None (movie)  
               ??? Unknown numbers in military attempts and due to poverty(irl)

               The town of Nottingham (movie) 
               ??? (irl)

Harm to Protagonist and company:
               In an alternate ending to Robin Hood (as seen in the Bonus Features section on the DVD), it's revealed originally he was going to have nearly killed Robin as he escaped the burning tower with an arrow and nearly kill Maid Marian in the church as she nurses him to health, but Richard returns just in time.  In the final cut of the movie, this was excluded, meaning based solely on what we can see, the worst that happens is sickness and poverty caused by taxation and jailing.   

               The real John was a bad guy all around, however, this segment takes only what can be inferred directly from what is seen in the film.  That being the case, John is by no means our worst Disney Villain.  I will be ranking these guys once I get nearly all of them done, but for now on a scale of 1 (the sweetest guy in town) to 10 (mass murderer), Robin Hood's interpretation of Prince John gets a...


        Disagree with me?  Have some numbers I missed?  Please feel free to comment what your score for this cry baby is and if you have any cool sources, shoot them my way!  Who would you like to see next?  Comment or write in!  Hope you guys enjoyed this first part of my new segment, Disney Villains!