Rebellions Are Built On Hope

Villains are often far more fun than heroes, especially when it comes to #Disney. Characters such as Maleficent, the Evil Queen and Jafar are out of this world, using sorcery to execute their evil plans. We might not love them, but we aren't necessarily terrified of them. These characters are obviously figments of fantasy. We know they're fake; there's no way they could ever show up in real life to do us harm.

Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, however, is an entirely different story. The strong-jawed figure in Beauty and the Beast has long been controversial, whether because he's too violent, too sexist, or too arrogant. Perhaps it's that he's simply too evil for kids, and the character has ruffled feathers since his debut in 1991.

Luke Evans plays the infamous figure in the new live-action version of #BeautyAndTheBeast. His take on the character expands on the guy as he appears in the 1991 animated film; for now, let's focus on why Gaston is one of the most unnerving characters in Disney history.

Face it: Gaston is among the most realistic Disney villains ever created, if not the most realistic. While you wouldn't encounter someone like Hades or Ursula in everyday life, you could pass by someone like Gaston on the street or have him as a coworker.

Gaston isn't some magical entity who appears and disappears at will; he won't use sorcery to make your life hell. He's basically that arrogant douchebag you knew in college, and he could pop up anywhere.

That fact alone puts Gaston in a unique villain class. Even Disney's other antagonists with a somewhat realistic nature, such as Hans from Frozen and Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, never achieve the level of relatable discomfort and irritation that Gaston leaves in his wake.

It's safe to say that a majority of Gaston's admirers follow him around just to stay in his good graces, or because they're afraid of his physical strength and competitive nature.

On the surface, Gaston's motivations seem fairly simple. He boasts about being in love with Belle, the oddest (and still available) woman in town, and pledges to make her his wife. He has practically the entire female population of the village begging for his attention, but the one girl he wants evades him at all costs.

That's enough to qualify Gaston as a jerk, but he doesn't stop there. As the story goes on, we see there is an ulterior motive to Gaston's actions: he wants to control the power of the angry mob. He's not just a cad, but a demagogue.

Not only does this authoritarian ambition shift Gaston's position in the eyes of the audience, it puts him into a category apart from other Disney villains. In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent's motives don't stray from than the demise of Princess Aurora. Shan Yu's desire in #Mulan was always to destroy China and the Emperor. Even Jafar's plot in #Aladdin never really strayed from his desire to have ultimate power and control.

However, we don't really understand Gaston's evil plot until the final act of the movie, and that is unique.

After Belle's father claims that she's being held captive by a beast, we see a shift in Gaston that moves his character away from just trying to woo a girl who is playing hard to get. His blatant narcissism goes into overdrive and brings him to a point where he needs to rile up the entire village to kill the Beast.

In the end, Gaston just has to prove to himself (and continually prove to others) that he's the best male specimen out there.

It's hard to say whether Disney will ever create another villain who has the impact that Gaston has had on viewers for the past 26 years. However, I personally feel it's safe to say that even if we do get another villain along the same lines, he (or she) will never top Gaston's narcissism, arrogance, deceit and overall evil nature.

Disney has given us so many classic villains — Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook, Claude Frollo and even Madam Mim — but there will only ever be one Gaston.