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The dilemma Cruella and the Joker will face in their aftermath



Sequences May Point to New Paths for Classic Characters

It’s been a few days since Disney released the long-awaited live-action version of Cruella on its streaming service. This film brings a fresh take on the heinous villain of the Dalmatian saga, in which she is portrayed as a young woman who has gone through a major turmoil in her life and needs to prove that she is a person of value to the wild market. fashion from the 70s.

This is an expected approach when it comes to a work that has a known villain as the protagonist: it is necessary to create links of identification and understanding between him and the audience so that the work as a whole is well accepted, especially in a case where the “heroine” is culturally known to have attempted to kill offspring in search of the perfect fur coat.

This is a strategy that comes up against the same situation presented in The Joker (2019), when director Todd Phillips set out to reimagine the origin of the famous DC Comics villain; but inserted into a real-life storyline from the 80s and presenting complex themes related to social needs and how they interact with mental disorders. Even so, although he never defended the protagonist’s actions, the film very early on sets out to establish a storyline that is also hostile to him and that ends up making the character’s journey more understandable.

With a new origin story, the famous Joker has become more acceptable to the public

Both films were well received by audiences, with the work of the Clown Prince of Crime even making it among the nominees for Best Picture at the Oscars; while the costume and make-up department linked to the villain’s film are possible candidates for the next Oscar very early on.

On the financial side, there are dissonant factors: As The Joker hit the billion mark at the box office, Cruella had a launch split between the cinema and the premium service Disney Plus – and preliminary information indicated that its “commercial” performance in the streaming service hasn’t even surpassed that of Mulan.

The point is, the possibility that the two will receive sequels is more than high, as their respective studios want to work on the appeal born from the two brands; something that was confirmed with Disney’s disclosure of the villain’s continuing journey. This way, a question is inevitable: where to go with the two properties?

There are several paths that Cruella can follow in the sequence.

Since the fundamental role of any sequence is to broaden the framework, the theme and / or the characters presented in the previous work, it is necessary to ask the question: how far is it possible to extend a popularized character? as a violent and dangerous individual without sacrificing meaning in the process of public acceptance and identification with it?

The path followed by the sequels will likely be to define what really makes someone a bad guy. Is it because he commits crimes throughout history? So, are the crimes committed by Arthur and Cruella acts of sheer wickedness or simply a reaction to a naturally hostile environment? In the article Rooting for the Bad Guys: Psychological Perspectives by the trio Richard Keen, Monica L. McCoy and Elizabeth Powell, it is precisely this question that is raised.

“It is generally accepted that villains break the rules or conventions of society… For example, Winston Smith in Orwell’s 1984 breaks the rules but few consider him a villain. Even when Winston deliberately breaks the law by committing serious crimes and engaging in illegal activities, virtually every reader supports him … Many of us are drawn to the villain and find ourselves justifying his behavior.

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So, one path to be followed by the very likely sequences of the two must be to consolidate the figure of the protagonist as a force of resistance against a plot that will constantly attack them, even as a result of the events of the previous films, by this way, their possibly criminal acts within the framework of the social conventions of the plot would not be interpreted as such by the public and the friendly bond previously established would not be threatened.

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