A Bug’s Life is Basically Apartheid of Ants – Where Does Hopper Rank Among the Villains?
My little dude wanted to watch A Bug’s Life today, which was a favorite for me when I was a kid. Naturally, I was pretty excited because I had not seen it in quite some time. Because of that, I never realized how dark Hopper (antagonist) is.
One of the beautiful parts about Disney and the way they make movies is it appeals to all audiences. The movies stand well with time because they are so subtly dark and A Bug’s Life was no different. Hopper was incredibly sneaky and cunning in his plotting.
The plot line itself for A Bug’s Life is very dark. Hopper is controlling the ants despite being outnumbered. He is forcing them to serve his grasshoppers year after year disenfranchising the ants to have any say in the matter. The parallel I thought of watching it as a 28-year-old was similar to Apartheid in South Africa.
Despite being outnumbered 100 to 1 as referenced in the movie, Hopper talks about preventing the ants from a potential uprising because of it. He knows he does not have the numbers so ants stepping out of line results in harsh punishment or death. He systemically oppresses the species he feels is well below him by forcing them to harvest for he and the grasshoppers.
Now, of course a small child won’t pick up on these things because I sure as hell did not as a child. The scene that really did me in as a big “oh shit” moment was the cantina scene where kills Axel and Loco.
Talking with Hopper’s brother, Molt, the two give the idea that returning to ant island is pointless because they have plenty of food. Molt tells Hopper this prying it off as his idea and the alpha becomes irate. Molt quickly spills the beans it was not his idea. Hopper calmly addresses the situation explaining why they must return and references how they are outnumbered. He then takes a piece of grain and throws one at Axel and Loco making a joke about puny ants are showing them that one ant can’t possibly hurt them. After everyone is in stitches laughing at the notion, he unloads all the grain on the two grass hoppers killing them and proceeds to give a dark monologue of keeping all the ants in check saying if they rebel they are basically screwed.
That scene showed a very deep mob boss kind of personality behind Hopper. That silent rage or silent but deadly kind of persona. It was fucking intense. I didn’t realize that as a child. Neither did my son. I honestly was looking over thinking “shit, I hope this doesn’t scare him.” It didn’t. Again, it goes back to the subtlety of Disney films in general. They appeal to all ages.
I always viewed Hopper as a decent villain. But after watching, I think he may be one of the most underrated villains in the Disney universe. That being said, I wanted to do a top 10 Disney Villains. LET’S RIDE!
10. Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty
Before people crush me for not having her higher, I am going solely off the premise of her backstory from the original. I am not including the deep dive into her back story with the stand alone films. That being said, she will still get the nod for the top 10 because she wants revenge on a girl from the day Aurora was born. She basically set a time stamp on her life. Plus, the bitch can turn into a green fire breathing dragon to wreak havoc.
The princess shall indeed grow in grace and beauty, beloved by all who know her. But, before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die.
9. Ratigan, The Great Mouse Detective
Everything about him is terrifying. Because he is a rat living among mice, he is a physical specimen of his own world. I would also like to point to the simple fact, he’s a fucking rat with a pet cat. That alone gets him a nod for the top 10.
You don’t know what a delightful dilemma it was, trying to decide on the most appropiate method for your demise. Oh, I had so many ingenious ideas I didn’t know which to choose. So I decided to use them all. Marvellous, isn’t it? But, here, let me show you how it works. Picture this, first, a sprightly tune I’ve recorded especially for you. As the song plays, the cord tightens, and when the song ends, the metal ball is released, rolling along its merry way until…
And so ends the short, undistinguished career of Basil of Baker Street.
8. Claude Frollo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
He is everything you hate in politics. He is a judge with high political pull who wants to play by his own rules. He hid a man away from the world for 20 years saying people would not accept Quasimodo after he killed his mother and planned on disposing him in a well. He is deplorable in every sense of the word. Watching him die is without a doubt one of the most satisfying deaths in the Disney universe.
You idiot! That wasn’t kindness, it was cunning! She’s a gypsy! Gypsies are not capable of real love! Think, boy! Think of your mother! (recomposes himself) But what chance could a poor, misshapen child like you have against her heathen treachery? Well, never you mind, Quasimodo. She will be out of our lives soon enough. I will free you from her evil spell. She will torment you no longer.
7. Hopper, A Bug’s Life
For all the reasons I said above and Kevin Spacey made him unbelievably good.
Let this be a lesson to all you ants! Ideas are very dangerous things! You are mindless, soil-shoving losers, put on this Earth to serve us!
6. Jafar, Aladdin
Jafar is a snake in the grass hence his sorcery to turn into a snake at the end of the movie. He is one of the most sneaky villains. His personality is easily one of my favorites and he makes it hard to completely hate him. He is as sarcastic as they come and has the most dry sense of humor. Redeemable qualities in my eyes.
I think it’s time to say goodbye to Prince Abubu.
5. Shere Khan, The Jungle Book
Any adaptation of Shere Khan is a winner in my book. I love that the original differs so much from the remake. In the remake, he was ruthless. However, quite the opposite in the original. Yes he was a man eating Tiger who hunted man for pleasure and sport. But, he was quite charming about it in the original. Doesn’t make him any less evil. It does make him quite the villain.
Bravo, Bravo. An extraordinary performance. And thank you for detaining my victim.
4. Ursula, The Little Mermaid
She gets in the top 5 for the sole purpose that she scared the ever living shit out of me as a child. In fact, I cried seeing her for the first time in Disney World. The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid. Maybe I just always loved a good villain to intrigue my interest. She is scary looking and honestly a massive bitch.
They weren’t kidding when they called me, well, a witch.
3. Gaston, Beauty and the Beast
I don’t care. If you ask me which Disney villain is my favorite, answer Gaston. He is the perfect villain you love to hate. He is THE blend of arrogance, bravado and ego. He is also a misogynistic dick. He is not as cruel or sadistic as other Disney villains, but it doesn’t matter. He is a bad ass. He is not to be messed with on most days. Also, how the hell am I supposed to pick one quote for him?
I’d like to thank you all for coming to my wedding. But first I’d better go in there and propose to the girl.
2. Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians
She looks absolutely disgusting. She is disgusting. She wants to wear puppies as a coat. Not only puppies, but the puppies of her “friend.” Also, her name translates to cruel devil. If she isn’t your one or two, you’re wrong.
My only true love, darling. I live for furs. I worship furs! After all, is there a woman in all this wretched world who doesn’t?
1. Scar, The Lion King
Scar. Scar. Scar. While Cruella has a great case, no scene in Disney movies will ever make grown men cry like when Scar kills his brother Mufasa. A true opportunist who appears weak and small compared to the burly and wise Mufasa and eventually Simba. He is tactically one of the smartest and most intelligent villains of the Disney universe. Cold and calculated is the term that comes to mind. He is the perfect look and personality for a twisted villain.
Now this looks familiar. Where have I seen this before? Hm, let me think. Oh, yes, I remember! This is just the way your father looked before he died. And here’s ‘my’ little secret…I killed Mufasa.