25 Disney characters that are actually good role models

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23. Maleficent

Another villain? You may be starting to wonder what our motivations are, exactly. Now, I’m not trying to turn you or any kids into evil wrong-doers, but it doesn’t hurt you to entertain more uncertain definitions of “good” and “evil”. I’m not saying you should go out there and turn yourself into a monstrous dragon (though, now that I think of it, that would be pretty cool). Just try to consider things from another side.

Even Disney, it turns out, is willing to look at a villain’s story from different angles. The original presentation of Maleficent, in the 1959 Sleeping Beauty animated film, didn’t start off in a particularly flattering light. Maleficent was a powerful and evil sorceress who was upset about not receiving a party invitation. As with any early Disney movie, things end poorly for Maleficent.

With the 2014 live-action Maleficent, however, the story changed. There, Maleficent was a powerful fairy who was wronged by the human world. She was understandably angry and wanted to cause trouble for the people who harmed her.

However, upon meeting the grown Aurora (whom she had still previously cursed), Maleficent has a change of heart. She develops a maternal affection for the girl. Thanks to the growing love within her, she saves the princess and eventually restores peace and justice to the land.

Though critical reaction to Maleficent was so-so, it still holds some important lessons. Though she is initially taken hold of by grief and anger, Maleficent soon learns that innocent people should not suffer for wrongs done by someone else. Overcoming her tragic past without denying it proves to be a powerful solution.