So I just saw the new Aladdin trailer and I have to say, I was fairly impressed with it. I was pleasantly surprised with some of the casting choices. But, there is one thing that I was disappointed in. Jafar. He has no presence, no flair, nothing that made him such a great villain in the original movies. Granted it was just one line, but there was no thirst for power, nothing there to hint at the evil he is capable of. Just a nice soft spoken guy in a funny outfit. Which got me thinking, what makes a movie villain so great? Everyone talks about how a great villain needs to be sympathetic, but Jafar didn’t have that, yet, he is often considered to be a great villain, why?
To understand this, let’s look at another movie with an amazing villain, Megamind. There’s a line that came to my mind when he is fighting with Titan, “Oh you’re a villain alright, just not a super one.” With the difference being “presentation.” So what does this mean for Jafar? Unfortunately, not much, it has everything to do with his actor and how he is “presented.”
When reviewing Marvel Villains, Doug Walker pointed out that Tom Hiddleston has a lot of fun playing Loki and it came through to the audience, and the audience loved him. Why? He was pretty despicable when he was first introduced to us, and yet, fans loved him. Well, it was presentation. He presented a character in such a fun way that we had fun hating him.
In wrestling, you have the heel, the villain, and it’s a similar thing. They are the bad guy in the ring and everyone loves to hate them. Yet they still have fans, why? Because the actor does such an amazing job presenting the character and has fun with the role, that everyone has fun.
That is the problem with Jafar in this live action from the trailer I have seen. The actor is not having fun with the role. The dialogue and character is very similar to the original, so why did I not get excited when I saw him? Because, at least for the line and scene that we were shown, the actor was not having fun. If Disney wants to have memorable villains, they need to find actors who will have fun with those roles.