The Cruella movie wasn’t my most anticipated year in 2021, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I had learning about the genesis of this particular Disney villain.
The Disney classic 101 Dalmatians was played a lot in my house as a kid. I was obsessed with the cuteness of the pups and the incredibly memorable twilight barking, but I was absolutely scared of Cruella.
I’ve always found this hilarious as she’s the most human and the least supernaturally gifted of almost all of the Disney villains. Malefiz, Ursula, Jafar, Hades, and so many more are magical, powerful, and should be infinitely more terrifying than a woman with a fiery car and a crazy hairstyle. But none of them scared me like Cruella.
Connected:New song by Florence + The Machine in the Disney soundtrack “Cruella”
So I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a Cruella movie. Without the story of two Emmas, Stone and Thompson, I would probably have skipped it entirely. But with such an amazing cast, eye-catching look, and the ability to delve deeper into the bad guy who scared me more as a kid than anyone, I decided to give him a shot.
And boy am I glad I did.
Not only have we seen the woman become the villain, we’ve seen Cruella at every stage of her life. Including the time before ‘Cruella’ ever existed. And we’ve learned so much about the woman behind the infamous villain. Here are just a few of our favorite things.
What I learned about Disney’s most notorious puppy hater in the ‘Cruella’ movie
1) Her name wasn’t always Cruella
I remember thinking that Cruella was a terrible thing for a mother to name her child, so it warms my heart to know that this little girl didn’t grow up by that name, she just grew into it.
I really loved meeting Estrella. Knowing that there was a time in her life when she had a loving mother figure and a certain sense of belonging was nice. She definitely struggled to adjust, but it never felt like she let that define her. In fact, she managed to make a friend or two along the way, at least one who remained a loyal partner through Cruella’s entire story.
Unfortunately, the end of our childhood Estrella era ended in tragedy, but it tells a lot about what makes her what she ultimately is. If events of that night had turned out differently in many ways, Estrella might have grown into a very different person altogether. And that would be a completely different Cruella film.
2) It was all in the name of fashion
Learning from Estrella / Cruella’s fascination with fashion and using design to put her utterly unique stamp on the world opens up so many avenues to understand this overtly malicious character. As a child, not only was she bullied for her looks and general demeanor, but her single-minded determination to reflect on her style often put her in situations where she was forced to struggle to be heard. Literally in many cases.
It’s more common for kids to hop from dream to dream as their futures progress, but Cruella’s single-minded devotion to everything fashion-related tells so much about what makes her character so brave and different from everyone else.
3) All of her most formative friendships were forged in her youth
We knew Anita was a friend based on the original animated film. But she never felt like a friend. Anita definitely didn’t have the open-minded attitude she seems to have in the Cruella movie. So much more judgy as an animated character.
Horace and Jasper were just two pickpockets before Cruella showed up. Soon they were stealing left and right, and their mind-boggling intrigues grew more and more intriguing over time. Until Cruella was full, well, Cruella and began treating them as their subordinates rather than equals.
I’m glad they stand by her, but I would totally understand if they rebelled after all these years of equality just to become their lackeys when she finally got her foot in the fashion world.
4) Your branded hair color is 100% natural 100%
As Gaga would say, she was ‘born that way’. While I’m not entirely sure if someone was born with black and white hair, it definitely defines Emma Stone’s Cruella in the most vivid way possible.
5) Your hatred of Dalmatians is well deserved
I mean, if my birth mother targeted a pack of cruel creatures, the only mother I had ever known, I’d probably take it personally too. I don’t blame her for not being a fan. Although I find it interesting that when she had the offending pooches in her possession, she had no interest in doing them any real harm.
While I haven’t exactly learned about Cruella, what I find most interesting is that Roger and Anita are proud Dalmatian parents at the end of the Cruella movie, courtesy of Cruella de Vil. Intrigue doesn’t even begin to describe it. I have no idea if Disney has any plans for Emma Stones Cruella from now on, but if they do then there is definitely an interesting alternate reality in the game here.
All in all, Cruella is a pretty great exploration of a villain’s psyche. Emma Stone’s Cruella is intriguing to see on screen, and I personally loved how well she leaned on the character’s most obvious tropes, especially the distinctive accent and iconic, terrible driving stance.
The new Cruella movie is out now on Disney +!