So, Disney Villains. There are a lot of them. The Evil Queen. The Wicked Stepmother. Scar. Frollo. Maleficent. Jafar. Ursula. We know them and we love/hate them in equal measure. But when it comes to Hans and Gaston, I can't help but wonder about them. They feel different from the other Disney villains.
Maybe it's the way they are drawn. When you look at certain villains, they are drawn and coloured in a way that we, the viewers, know instantly that they are the villain. Drawn in rather severe way or in a quite comedic way. We have Maleficent who is drawn with horns and Ursula is drawn with lavender-coloured skin. Scar is a different colour compared to the other lions and both Jafar and Dr Facilier are tall and drawn with sharp lines. All Disney villains have clear indicators that they are villains.
While Gaston is drawn in a comedic way (those muscles), Hans doesn't fit either. Hans is drawn to the hero, the dashing prince who (we are told in every Disney film) will come and save the day. Hans is, to Anna, the prince who came. It's not until much, much later that Anna sees his true intent.
And intent is another villain trait. In nearly all Disney films, the villains intent is always there. We see it from the off. We know they are the villains and we know why they're doing what they're doing. Both Gaston and Hans are, at the start of the films, don't reveal their intent. With Hans, he lies and pretends to be the wonderful person, but when his mask slips when he thinks Anna is going to die and, when he think she does, he spins more lies and becomes more ruthless in his pursuit of power, not pausing for a second before he tries to kill Elsa, while grieving for Anna after being told that she was dead and with her back to Hans.
But Gaston doesn't fit this. He doesn't lie to the viewer. He's not being deceitful. Not at the start of either the animated or the live action movies. He wants to marry Belle become she's the most beautiful and that makes her the best. He believes that, because he is the most handsome man in the village, marrying the most beautiful girl in the villain will make him happy. But as the story goes forward in both version, we see that he sees Belle as a object, a thing to be control and no one will stand in his way of getting what he wants, making his actions of trying to put Maurice in a mental hospital or, in the live action, tying him up to a tree and leaving him in the woods, hoping the wolves will eat Maurice because he said "No" when Gaston wants Belle's hand in marriage. Gaston, though no starting the movie as a villain, grows into one.
But this isn't the reason I think Hans and Gaston are scary villains, probably the scariest out of them.
My main reason is quite frightening and it's this: They exist out of their movie.
With most of the Disney villains, they live in a world of fantasy, with magic at their fingertips. We can separate fantasy from reality. We're never going to meet a witch, a woman who can turn into a dragon or a half-woman, half-octopus trying to steal our voices.
But Hans and Gaston can be so easily taken out of their movie and easily exist in our world. There are men and women out there who can easily be Hans and Gaston. They can be our friends, people we work with, people we're related to, people we're in relationships with. People who think it's ok to do the things they do and to have no one call them out on it because they are handsome or their status.
But - now this is a huge but - for every Hans and Gaston in the world, there are loads of princes and princesses. People who will have your back. People who will be kind, thoughtful, loving. People who will be there for you, no matter what. The Mulans, the Tianas, the Meridas, the Flynn Riders, the Prince Philip and the Beast/Prince Adam. These are the people who, when the Hans and Gastons appear on our lives, will always have our back.