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What if Jafar Was Good All Along?

Jafar is the primary villain of the Disney animated classic, Aladdin, which magic carpeted its way into our hearts back in 1992.

I’m sure many of you agree that the film is easily one of Disney’s best offerings of all time, and a lot of that has to do with its complex “good and evil” narrative, as well as some fantastic music.

Rather than leave the movie alone, however, I’ve decided that it requires a little over-analyzing, and you can thank the recent live-action Disney film, Maleficent, for my mischief.

maleficent-maleficent-movie-9

Maleficient is a modern retelling of the classic story, Sleeping Beauty, which you may fondly remember as a VHS box tape that sat next to CinderellaSnow White and maybe even Peter Pan. In this new version of Sleeping Beauty, Disney decided to turn the narrative on its head by making Maleficient a misunderstood villain.

Much like Broadway did with the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz in “Wicked,” Disney retold the classic story with Maleficient actually being justifiable in her actions, though I won’t say much more for fear of ruining the film for anyone else.

At any rate, I found it valuable to do the same with Jafar from Aladdin, and I think you’ll find I have a decent case on my hands.

was jafar good

Right now, you’re probably remembering all of the awful things Jafar did in both Aladdin and its somewhat unofficial sequel, Return of Jafar. For the sake of keeping things simple, we’ll stick with just talking about Aladdin.

In the movie, Jafar betrays Aladdin after hiring him to do a job, tries to kill him later on, hypnotizes the sultan, tries to kill Aladdin again and then uses his power to usurp the title of sultan and force Jasmine and the real sultan to do his bidding.

After all of that, how could we possibly perceive Jafar as a good guy? Case closed, right?

Well, not necessarily. The problem here is that we have an unreliable narrator that could change the way we really watch the movie. The narrator I’m referring to is the merchant from the very beginning of the film.

was jafar good

If you recall, the movie starts with an unnamed merchant who is trying to sell his wares to us, the audience. To be clear, he’s as sleazy as they come, and it’s not long before he tries to sell us the magic lamp that once belonged to Aladdin.

In other words, the entire movie is a sales pitch.

The merchant is trying to prove to us (in his words) that the lamp is important because it “changed the course of one man’s life.” He then goes on to tell us the “story” of Aladdin.

The main problem here is that in order for us to want the lamp, he would have to position the main character, Aladdin, as the good guy. Even if he’s telling a “true” story, we as the audience have no idea how far he may be straying from the truth in order to convince us that having a magic lamp is a good idea.

(I’m sure what I just said has raised a lot of questions for those of you who remember how the movie ends, but stay with me for now).

To be fair, even the merchant’s telling of the story raises a lot of doubts for me that Jafar is that bad of a guy. So before we go any further, let’s go through the “Case for Jafar.”

THE SULTAN SUCKS AT HIS JOB

This is probably the most important piece of evidence we have to work with. The root of Jafar’s motivation is to replace the sultan, but why do you think he is lusting for this power in the first place?

was jafar good

There’s a three-pronged answer to that question:

  • The sultan plays with toys all of the time instead of running Agrabah
  • The sultan has let his daughter put off finding an heir
  • The sultan has let his daughter let her tiger physically assault princes from other countries

All of these are reasons for why the Grand Vizier would be so incredibly frustrated with the current affairs of Agrabah. As we see in the opening sequence with Aladdin and Abu running from the guards, poverty and homelessness is a huge problem. 

This is likely because every time we run into the sultan, he’s goofing off or playing with toys. Jafar has to hypnotize the sultan just to get him to do his job.

WHY WOULDN’T JAFAR HAVE HYPNOTIZED HIS WAY TO BECOMING SULTAN?

Jafar himself is not a sorcerer until the end of the movie, but he does have a wide array of magical tools and instruments, which includes his cobra staff, the sands of time, etc. So why does he need a lamp to make himself sultan?

sultan jafar

We’re led to believe that Iago (his parrot) convinced Jafar that he should just get the sultan to make Jafar a suitor for the princess. But if Jafar was really as cruel as the merchant portrays him, then Jafar could have simply hypnotized the sultan to concede his title.

Instead, Jafar wants to become sultan by either “wishing” himself sultan or marrying into it, which would both occur without hurting anyone (except Jasmine’s feelings).

You could argue that Jafar isn’t powerful enough to hypnotize the sultan in this way, but he seems to have plenty of other tools at his disposal. It seems unlikely that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish this without the lamp unless he was trying to do this without bloodshed.

THE MOVIE FROM JAFAR’S PERSPECTIVE

Let’s review. We have a Grand Vizier named Jafar who is fed up with how the sultan is refusing to take his job seriously. Poverty and homelessness run rampant, the princess is antagonizing her suitors and the sultan is just standing by.

was jafar good

The law says Jasmine has to marry within the next few days, but she refuses because she wants love. So Jafar decides he needs to take matters in his own hands.

He’s been hypnotizing the sultan so far to keep things running, but that’s not enough anymore. Jafar decides he needs to become sultan himself and right what the sultan has wronged, while also allowing Jasmine to marry whomever she wants.

Meanwhile, Jasmine runs away and falls for a homeless thief who only likes her for her looks (as evidenced by how he describes her to the genie).

was jafar good

Of course, the sultan is old and could die soon. If Jasmine, his only heir, doesn’t marry in time, then the city will fall into turmoil. But Jasmine selfishly neglects her responsibility until the guards finally find her.

Jafar discovers with the sands of time that Aladdin is the key to getting into the Cave of Wonders, where the lamp resides. He hires him to get the lamp, but his stupid monkey touches something and the whole thing is collapsing. Deciding not to take any chances, Jafar takes the lamp and lets Aladdin suffer the consequences of his actions, but Abu steals the lamp back as they become trapped.

Jafar then has no choice but to save the city by hypnotizing the sultan into arranging a marriage between him and Jasmine.

aladdin jafar

But then some random prince no one has ever heard of (from a place no one has ever heard of) bombards the palace with a parade. The guy certainly doesn’t act or talk like a prince, but the sultan doesn’t care at all about how shady the situation is.

Of course, the “prince” is Aladdin, who tricked the genie into breaking him out of the cave without wishing for it and then made the promise that he’d free the genie later (even though he apparently didn’t intend to keep that promise).

Aladdin sneaks into Jasmine’s chambers (at night) and whisks her away across the world. Oh, and he lies to her again about who he really is by claiming he was a prince all along.

aladdin and jasmine

Jafar knows that the “prince” is a fraud, so he arranges to have him disposed of before he ruins the entire kingdom. But Aladdin escapes thanks to the genie, whom he betrays by going back on his promise to free him. Aladdin decides it’s more important to keep the genie around in order to keep the “prince” act up.

But Jafar realizes that the “prince” is actually Aladdin, so he steals his lamp back and commands the genie to make him sultan.

He also wishes for power, hoping that it will protect Agrabah from the country that just found out their prince they sent to marry Jasmine was attacked by a tiger. Jafar even places the kingdom on a hill to make it a more secure stronghold.

aladdin jafar

Alas, Aladdin returns and tricks Jafar into becoming a genie, thus imprisoning him.

We could also talk about Return of Jafar (which starts with the same merchant singing “Arabian Nights” by the way), but it’s pretty much the same story.

Oh, and I’m not the only person to argue for the case of Jafar. In fact, there is an entire musical based on this concept called Twisted, which you can watch in its entirety below:

(Warning: contains material not suitable for children)

SO, THE MERCHANT?

The obvious question here is, why would the merchant tell us that the lamp is essentially useless? At the end of Aladdin, the merchant tells us that the genie is freed. That definitely explains how the merchant would have his hands on it without just using it himself.

aladdin merchant

The only answer I can think of is that he wants to sell the lamp because it is rare. It’s no ordinary lamp! This is the lamp that Aladdin used to defeat the evil Jafar! Hear the tale of the magical Genie would can summon entire parades that disappear without any explanation!

Can you see how his hyperbole and twisting of the story would convince someone that the lamp would be cool to have? Even if the story isn’t accurate? This is the same sales tactic that people make even today, but especially during those times when street merchants would shout extravagant sales pitches from the corner.

THE LESSON

Am I over-thinking this? Of course. But I didn’t get into this because I want to prove something is true. Rather, I recognize the value in turning a story on its head to learn a new lesson.

was jafar good

The message here is that sometimes, things aren’t all what they seem. Sure, Aladdin is probably a cool guy and Jafar was a jerk, but my article may have made you doubt that a little. And that’s just because it’s easy to twist a story and blur the lines between good and evil (even though they are clearly distinct at the same time).

That said, which version of Jafar do you prefer?


Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my mailing list.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni



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The Pixar Detective, Chapter 5: Hair of the Catalyst

Hey everyone! Welcome to The Pixar Detective, a serial novel I put together based on the Pixar Theory. The following is a fictional story that explains the theory that all of the Pixar movies are connected and exist within the same universe, using original characters and artwork. The story answers a lot of questions you may have about this theory, but through its own ongoing narrative.

The story originally launched in April, and we’ve recently completed Part 1!

It is available as an iBook on iTunes, which you can check out here. If you can’t use iBooks, you can also download the PDF version. 

Once you’re finished, check back to our Table of Contents, where we’ll be continuing the story through Part 2. A new chapter is released every two weeks on Tuesdays. And please be sure to leave your feedback in the comments for us to read through. Enjoy!

wallabyandalecPreviously on The Pixar Detective: Still in search of their missing friend Mary, our heroes Stevin Parker, Wallaby Jones and Alec Azam used magic to travel through a door that bent time and space, leading them to a mysterious woodcarving workshop.

Their curiosity was peaked when the knives, pots and pans decided to come alive and attack the trio, causing a violent (and funny looking) battle to ensue. Right before escaping the chaos, Stevin snatched a code book left behind by his friend Mary, revealing the number “1935.”

The revelation sparked an idea within Alec, who turned back to the woodcarving workshop despite the danger that lay within.

Use the prompt on the sidebar to subscribe for updates or just follow me and Kayla on Twitter to stay connected – @JonNegroni – @KaylaTheSavage

Thanks for reading!

The Truth About Andy’s Dad In ‘Toy Story’ Will Make You Depressed

Andy dad toy story

Fine, here’s what happened to Andy’s dad.

A few months ago, I argued the theory that Andy’s mother is actually Emily, the girl who originally owned Jesse in Toy Story 2. The post quickly went viral, as many people began debating whether or not this is true, intentional, etc.

Since then, literally hundreds (if not thousands) of people have been asking me about Andy’s dad, and I’ve never wanted to address the issue for a few key reasons:

  1. It’s depressing.
  2. It’s depressing.
  3. It’s depressing.

You see, I love talking about theories like Andy’s mom and how all of the Pixar movies are connected because that’s tons of fun to think about. Andy’s dad? That’s just…well, you get it.

andy's dad toy story

But I can see that a lot of you want to know anyway, and it’s really not that complicated. In fact, this is one of the few theories about Toy Story that I can confidently say is totally intentional.

The original theory was first posited by Jess Nevins, an incredibly talented writer who published his take on “Mr. Davis” back in 2010. I’ll elaborate on his theory and build upon it with my own insights.

Nevins claimed that Andy’s parents are going through a divorce during the events of the first Toy Story. Now, many of you probably saw that coming (it’s pretty obvious, after all), but it’s important to point out that this is not an amicable divorce. Andy’s dad left the family, and there’s plenty of evidence to confirm this.

Keep in mind that Andy’s dad is never mentioned or seen throughout the Toy Story movies. If it wasn’t for the rudiments of biology and procreation, then we could just assume that the guy doesn’t even exist. But he does, and all signs point to him walking out on his wife and kids.

The Obvious Clues

He may have left right before the first Toy Story started or months before, but one thing is certain: Andy’s dad did not die. If he had died, then why are there no pictures of him on the wall in the Davis house?

toy story andy's dad

As you can see from this shot of Toy Story, Andy’s dad is not depicted in these family photos. If he had died, you’d think they would at least keep a picture of him up for the sake of honoring his memory.

Of course, you can argue that he died a long time ago, and the family has forgotten about him already. But if that’s the case, then how do you explain the fact that Molly (Andy’s younger sister) is a baby? He would’ve had to have died recently in order for her existence to be possible.

It makes more sense to assume that his pictures were taken down, and it would take something despicable on his part for that to happen.

To strengthen that point, Andy’s mom is spotted without a wedding ring at Andy’s birthday party in the first film. If Mr. Davis had died recently, then she would probably still be wearing it.

toy story andy's dad

Now, I’ll admit that if you really want to, you can come up with a lot of diverting theories to explain all of this by saying Molly was conceived by some other man and that could be why the parents divorced. You could argue that the kids are adopted, or Andy’s mom just “gets around.”

But don’t you think the creators of Toy Story intended for this to be clear? In this case, the simple explanation is the more likely.

After all, the family is moving from a bigger house to a noticeably smaller one in Toy Story, which signals that Andy’s mom is having financial trouble. If she and Mr. Davis were getting a divorce, then he would at least be paying child support, but the family still has to make some sacrifices.

Oh, and the family gets a puppy. That’s pretty much the king of single mother clichés.

Childish Competition

The “deadbeat dad” theory also explains why Andy is so deeply connected with his toys, especially the masculine figureheads depicted by Woody and Buzz (who are both authoritative models as a “sheriff” and a “space ranger”).

What seems like a petty rivalry between two toys vying for Andy’s affection is really an allegory that Andy is playing out in his mind. In the end, their reconciliation and eventual friendship is symbolic of Andy coming to terms with only having his mother around.

toy story andy's dad

Woody is the “old” father figure that represents where Andy really comes from, while Buzz is the “new” future he has to get used to. It’s no wonder Andy is going through emotional whiplash as he has to face the absence of his father and having to move to a totally new house within such a limited amount of time.

Now, if you’re a fan of my theory of Pixar movies and the Pixar Detective novel, then a fun way to interpret this is by noting how Woody and Buzz are essentially “programmed” to make Andy happy.

They may notice that he is torn by his old life and the new one that is being forced upon him, prompting Woody to obsess over making sure Andy still has a connection to his old life, while Buzz is the “oblivious” future that just happens upon Andy without him knowing it.

A Common Theme

Ultimately, this explains why Andy is so deeply immersed with his toys, and it’s a theme that Disney is no stranger to. In many Disney and Pixar films, the main characters are brought up without one or both parents.

toy story andy's dad

Movies like this include Up (Russell’s father left him), Tangled (Rapunzel is raised by an evil fake-mother and Flynn is an orphan), Frozen (both parents pass away), A Bug’s Life (Dot and Atta only have their mother), The Princess and the Frog (her father dies early on), Aladdin (Jasmine’s mother is never mentioned and Aladdin’s father is estranged until the third film) and I could go on and on.

The simple explanation for this is that many people suffer from broken homes during their formative years, and it’s been reflected in both literature and moviemaking for as long as they’ve been around. It should be no surprise that a fun film like Toy Story has an undercurrent of sadness and (dare I say it) reality lingering in the background.

Also, it’s been a tradition for movies and even TV to stray from having both parents onscreen in order to prevent alienating single parents who take their kids to go see movies. Ouch, right in the heart.

What the Creators Have to Say About It

Now, if you ask the director of Toy Story, Lee Unkrich, directly, then he’ll give you a mysteriously vague answer. In her article, Toy Story 3 and the Triumph of a Single Mother,” writer Mary Pols spoke with Unkrich himself and gained his thoughts on the matter:

“It’s an oft asked question, but there is no concrete answer, We don’t mean to be mysterious about it; it’s just never been relevant to the story.”

It’s just always been that way. The decision was made really early on in ‘Toy Story’ to have Andy’s dad not be around. We’ve never addressed it directly, nor have we given any explanation for where he is or why he’s absent.”

As for Unkrich himself (pictured below), his parents divorced when he was 10 years old, and he reportedly grew up with just his mother for some time.

toy story andy's dad

On Quora, Craig Good (one of Toy Story‘s animators) claims that the decision to exclude Andy’s dad was made because rendering humans was very difficult and expensive at the time, and he wouldn’t be relevant to the story anyway.

But that definitely doesn’t mean they didn’t pepper in a few clues that hint at Andy’s father being a deadbeat. That most easily explains why he truly isn’t necessary for the Toy Story movies, especially to the characters who moved on without him.

Except for Buzz Lightyear, of course. Even he got a dad in Toy Story 2…

toy story andy's dad

Summary:

So here it is in a nutshell. Andy’s father most likely walked out on the family, which led to Andy’s mother deciding to relocate to a smaller house to save money and (hopefully) move on from the painful memory. She has removed any pictures she has of him, along with her wedding ring, and the father is never mentioned or seen, even in Andy’s graduation photos.

It’s sad and kind of depressing, but inevitably pointless to the story, which is really about a boy and his toys that somehow come to life and compete for his love and imagination.


Thanks for reading this. To get updates on my theories, books, and giveaways, join my Mailing List.

Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni

Disney & Marvel’s Next Crazy Experiment: ‘Big Hero 6’

Somehow, Disney decided to take one of the most obscure comic book franchises on the market and turn it into their next animated film.

Not only that, but Big Hero 6 is Disney’s first major attempt to adapt a Marvel comic book using their animation playbook. The trailer itself even advertises that the movie is “from the makers of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.”

As someone who is a huge fan of both superheroes and Disney, this is clearly a dream come true, but for those of you wondering just what the heck Big Hero 6 is, here’s a brief introduction that should get you pretty excited about this upcoming November release.

But first, here’s the trailer:

What you saw in the trailer is just a small part of the superhero team known as “Big Hero 6.” The character above is one of the main protagonists, Hiro Hamada, and the robot he is building is called Baymax.

The rest of Big Hero 6 will be introduced later on, and they’re a diverse bunch. Though we don’t have the full roster confirmed yet, we know that the team will consist of:

#1 Wasabi-No-Ginger: a highly skilled chef and swordsman who can materialize throwing knives (like Gambit, pretty much).

big hero 6

#2 Honey Lemon: a dimension-crossing woman with the ability to pull out almost anything from her purse.

big hero 6

#3 GoGo Tomago: once she utters her name, she can turn herself into a ball of energy that moves at incredible speed.

big hero 6

#4 Fredzilla: a tough guy who can transform into a Godzilla-like creature. He also has a major connection to S.H.I.E.L.D.

(with a connection to S.H.I.E.L.D.)

And then, of course, there’s Hiro and Baymax, who presumably make the 5th and 6th members of the team. Hiro is a 13-year-old prodigy who builds Baymax for a high school science project, not realizing that the synthetic behemoth would become his best friend and even father figure.

Aside from the interesting characters, the setting for Big Hero 6 is one of the most exciting aspects of the upcoming film. It takes place in San Fransokyo, a tonal combination of San Francisco and Tokyo. The rich themes borrow heavily from both Japanese and Western culture, making the world of Big Hero 6 stand out from other comic book offerings.

big hero 6
Silver Samurai

Speaking of comic books, you’ve no doubt noticed that this clearly takes place in the Marvel universe. In fact, two members of the team (in the comics) are actually from the X-Men universe, including Silver Samurai (the villain from The Wolverine) and Sunfire (a former X-Men). For legal reasons, they had to be left out of this film, at least until Fox allows Disney and Marvel to use X-Men characters.

As you can see, Disney is repurposing a lot of content from the original comic, and I’m expecting the final film to be a huge departure from what inspired it. It’s too early to know if that’s a good or a bad thing, but it’s for that reason I’m actually going to suggest that most of you go into this film without reading the comics.

Naturally, you should check them out if you’re curious and want to read a good story. All I’m saying is that if you want to look into them for the sake of knowing more about what the film is going to offer, than I suspect you may be disappointed, and the film may even be ruined for you.big hero 6

You may also be wondering why Disney would choose this as their follow-up to last year’s massive hit, Frozen. Well, it’s not really complicated. First, Disney had no idea that Frozen would be the moneymaker that it was, and Big Hero 6 has been planned since way back in 2011.

If you’re waiting to see how Disney truly tries to replicate the success of Frozen, just wait about two more years. Until then, we’ll get to enjoy the risky projects they’ve already been working on, and I couldn’t be more excited for this one in particular.

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

The Pixar Detective, Chapter 4: Here be Magic

Hey everyone! Welcome to The Pixar Detective, a serial novel I put together based on the Pixar Theory. The following is a fictional story that explains the theory that all of the Pixar movies are connected and exist within the same universe, using original characters and artwork. The story answers a lot of questions you may have about this theory, but through its own ongoing narrative.

The story originally launched in April, and we’ve recently completed Part 1!

It is available as an iBook on iTunes, which you can check out here. If you can’t use iBooks, you can also download the PDF version. 

Once you’re finished, check back to our Table of Contents, where we’ll be continuing the story through Part 2. A new chapter is released every two weeks on Tuesdays. And please be sure to leave your feedback in the comments for us to read through. Enjoy!

coffeeshopPreviously on The Pixar Detective: Stevin Parker and Wallaby Jones joined their mysterious teacher, Alec Azam, on their quest to find their missing friend, Mary. Their main clue at the moment is a purple hair Stevin and Wallaby found in Mary’s room, which was suspended in the air and resting on a tree.

 

randallandalecAlec, who has revealed himself to be some sort of wizard, was approached by an odd-looking man named Randall, who appears to know a bit about what’s going on. He petitioned Alec to find Mary for unknown reasons, and Alec has told Stevin and Wallaby (vaguely) about the world of magic they’re stumbling onto.

The boys were taken to a massive warehouse filled with rows of doors. Alec pointed out three in particular that Mary may have a connection to. Alec chose Wallaby to use his “imagination” to conjure a knock that would somehow change one of the doors into something completely different…

Use the prompt on the sidebar to subscribe for updates or just follow me and Kayla on Twitter to stay connected – @JonNegroni – @KaylaTheSavage

Thanks for reading!

If FROZEN Was A Horror Film

So yesterday, I shared a fun genre-bending movie trailer that turned X-Men: First Class into a High School comedy. Today, I thought it would be fun to extend that idea to 2013 new classic, Frozen.

Surprisingly, the film actually lends itself really well to being…well, creepy. The trailer actually had me fooled, even though I was aware of what it really was the entire time. Take a look for yourself (if you dare):

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

If ‘X-Men: First Class’ Was A High School Comedy, This Would Be The Trailer

x-men first class high school comedy

You know how we’ve always wanted X-Men: First Class to be more like a mid-2000’s teen comedy about getting through high school with a few laughs along the way? No?

Go on…If ‘X-Men: First Class’ Was A High School Comedy, This Would Be The Trailer

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