Disney Villain of the Week: Maleficent, teaching us to succeed

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Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - fire and thorns

The one, the only, Maleficent!

It’s May all month! If Florida that means you have about 3 weeks to get to Disney World before the hordes of screaming children, ankle-slamming strollers, and lobster-red tourists sweep down upon the Park. The weather doesn’t get any cooler from here out either. In honor of this sacred time, we’ll be looking at a sample of Disney’s iconic villains.

What you can expect:

More variety; more evil; and most importantly, more pictures!

Our Villain of the Week is one of my favorites:

Maleficent from the 1959 Sleeping Beauty. Maleficent played by Angelina Jolie is an antagonist (or is she?) for another time.

I rewatched Sleeping Beauty as research for this post. The widescreen animation’s beauty never ceases to amaze me. Thus, you’ll agree it’s appropriate to do a picture post. And I’m lazy. Since I’m not devoting a whole month to each villain, it’s also going to be a more condensed format.


1. Make an entrance

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - appears

Green fire = trouble in the Realms of Disney. How you make your first appearance sets the tone and creates people’s impression of you. First impressions are hard to change. They take about 3 seconds to form and forever to break!

2. Style

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - crow comes

Corvids of any kind automatically increase your appearance points by +10, but they’re not always feasible. So make do with looking the part you want to get. Don’t wear the uniform if you don’t want the title, the saying goes, but it works the other way too. Maleficent is dressed to impress.

3. Keep calm

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - at christening

That moment when you realize you’re going to have to teach somebody a lesson…eventually. Keep it together when you hear bad news. People expect others to act certain ways in response to news. Keeping calm puts others off guard while giving you a chance to think through what just happened.

4. Laugh it off to confuse people

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - calm

No big deal! Except it is. Controlling your outward response helps control your inward response too. Don’t let anger cloud your judgement.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - king Stephan

You didn’t see this coming? People tend to not see the obvious coming. They don’t see the unexpected either. So…overall they don’t see much of anything at all. Don’t be these people. Don’t be Aurora’s parents!

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - rabble fairies

The rabble. They demonstrate two ways people usually react to somebody being insulted and that somebody responding. Either people will get mad, or they’ll stand and gawk. I’m not saying put your nose in other people’s business, but at least get the whole story first. And don’t stare. It’s rude.

5. Then let them have it

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - cape

Black, purple, and soon to be green fire make a point. What you need instead is force of presence. How do you get that without pyrotechnics or reenacting Catching Fire? By first being 100% convinced of your own ability and position. Even if you’re not, act like it!

6. Make an exit

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - exit

Always use fire if you can. In TV writing there’s a saying, “You can’t go out on nothing,” meaning you can’t go to commercial on a calm note. You need curiosity, cliffhanger, suspense! People have goldfish memories for the most part. Finish well in a discussion or interaction, and odds are they’ll overlook any flubs you made in the middle. The end will override this. It’s not a guarantee, but it is likely.

7. Hang out with people of your caliber

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - fire dance

It’s the goblin queen? Goblins are in a sense fae, but they’re not fairies like the three or like Maleficent. Why doesn’t she hang out with other fairies? Do they fear her? Do they compete for position? Either way, spending all her time with goblins cost her. Remember? She assumed they were like her and would search for a 16 year old girl rather than a baby. Nope. They looked for a baby for 16 years. Maybe if she’d interacted with other fairies more, she’d think to tell her morons this detail,

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - fire throne

No villain is complete without a throne! Do other fairies? We don’t see her every minute of the 16 years, but Maleficent seems fairly isolated. Her best friend is her crow,

8. Don’t assume common sense exists

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - surrounded by idiots

That moment when you realize common sense isn’t common. We who are proficient in the ability tend to think everyone uses basic logic correctly. They don’t. Never underestimate the power of stupid! You’ll never find its limit. Be ready.

9. Don’t lose it

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - idiots in purple

It’s so hard to find good help these days… But that’s no reason to lose your temper. Maleficent allowed her anger to time and time again overtake her judgement. There was no real reason for her to cast the curse on Aurora. There was no need to get so upset. She was slighted, yes, but there was likely a reason. Was it worth wasting 16 years?

10. Enjoy victory

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - happy in cottage

It’s nice to win. When you finally win, take a minute to savor the victory. There’s no crime in that, unless the victory was a crime…

11. But don’t gloat

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - prince Phillip

Gloating is the downfall of many a villain. Do what you need to do and be done with it. You’ve won a victory. Congratulations! Now get out there and get the next one. And make sure this one is completely won!

12. Your anger can hurt your friends

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - stone Diaval

That’s not a statue. For 16 years Maleficent’s crow was at her side, on her hand, doing her bidding. He found Aurora. He was smarter than all the goblins combined. But Maleficent’s anger caused the conflict with the fairies, and by extension his petrification. Remember, your actions affect your friends.

13. Know your enemies

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - arc welding Merryweather

Magic, welding, whatever. Underestimating people can land you in a world of hurt. Put all your eggs in one basket and underestimate the ability of your foes to tip it, and you’re going to be making one giant omelette.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - free Phillip

Shouldn’t you wear a mask? People come up with the strange ideas sometimes and use unconventional methods. Expect the unexpected.

14. Use your strength wisely

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - dragon rising

Show off, it’s okay. When you have power, it’s fine to show it a bit, but don’t let it go to your head. Don’t take time showing off and lording it over people. While you do, they’re sharpening the Sword of Truth to take you down. Everyone has power. Use it wisely, even if it’s just the power to choose which drive thru you visit.

15. Don’t procrastinate

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - clouds and staff

Dramatic spell casting: it looks beautiful, but why not just decimate your opposition if you have the power? Finish the job when you have the time and ability. Don’t procrastinate.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - vortex

Vortex is never good for the hero. Gather your strength and use it well.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - clouds over castle

There had to be a better idea than clouds and thorns.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - thorns

But if you are going to procrastinate, make it look good!

15. Be careful of the little things

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - face off

The little things trip us up more than anything. One loose thread can trip you. Bet you didn’t even notice there are two 15s, that this isn’t #16. You can never prevent misfortune, but you can plan for delays and the need for more resources. Risk reduction and mitigation help decrease the chance of “bad things” happening. Being able to roll with the punches is another great way to deal with change.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - sword in the heart

More than an arrow to your knee. Protect what matters most.

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - sword end

Nobody wants to end as a smudge on the ground. Learn from Maleficent to prevent downfall.

♦ Further reading:

How to be Villainously Positive: 18 ways with the Joker

Villainous Resilience: 15 Ways to bounce back like the Joker

Villainous opportunism: How to take advantage of every opportunity, Albert Wesker-style

Quit Like a Pro: 14 Signs You Should Ditch Your Job – With Albert Wesker

Villains vs Antagonists: A field guide

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments. Perform your own villain assessments with the Villain Matrix. Use the Villain Matrix spreadsheet that comes free when you join the Research Team, where you’ll also get our newsletter with its exclusive updates and content.

Lead researcher at Villainous Life Natures Research. Writer, reader, snarker. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ. Read my reports at vlnresearch.com and learn how understanding villains can help you succeed in life. Find my action-adventure post-apocalypse zombie thriller Wolves of the Apocalypse series at lcchamplin.com. I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.

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